Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: No Freak accident - Bucks could surprise

30-teams-in-30-days-milwaukee-bucks-giannis-antetokounmpo-83017.jpg

30 teams in 30 days: No Freak accident - Bucks could surprise

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Milwaukee Bucks.

When Kobe Bryant was doling out expectations for some of the NBA’s brightest stars, there was a noticeable omission: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
 
So, Antetokounmpo reached out to Bryant via social media basically saying, ‘what about me?’

https://twitter.com/Giannis_An34/status/900767397556232192
 
The Black Mamba responded with a pretty cut-and-dry challenge – become the league’s MVP.

https://twitter.com/kobebryant/status/901798191766450176
 
Antetokounmpo will be in the conversation for sure, especially after being named an All-Star last season.

 
He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game.
 
The 6-foot-11 point forward became the first player since LeBron James in 2008-2009 to lead his team in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.
 
But for the Greek Freak to come away with the league’s highest individual honor, Milwaukee will have to rack up a few more wins than last season’s 42-40 finish and likely advance past the first round of the playoffs, which they have not done since 2001.
 
They should benefit from a roster that remains relatively intact and seems poised to build off of last season’s postseason berth, where they were eliminated in the first round by Toronto in six games.
 
Despite not having a bona-fide, knockdown shooter (although Khris Middleton is pretty darn close), the Bucks were among the league’s best shooting teams in connecting on 47.4 percent of their shots which ranked fourth in the NBA.
 
However, the Bucks had their share of issues defensively despite having the kind of length at every position that, on paper at least, would lead one to believe they were one of the league’s better teams defensively.
 
But the numbers tell a different story, with the most noticeable being their defensive rating of 106.4, which ranked 19th in the NBA, tied with Houston and Philadelphia, a pair of defensively-challenged teams from last season.
 
Still, through the playoff series loss and the defensive challenges come growth, the kind that has the Bucks poised as one of the potential surprise teams in the East this season.
 
In addition to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks return a lineup that includes rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon (the first second-round pick to ever win the award), Jabari Parker, Middleton, as well as increased depth with Tony Snell, John Henson and Thon Maker.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: None.
 
Key losses:  Michael Beasley (free agent to New York).
 
Rookies of note:
D.J. Wilson.

Expectations: 48-34 (Second in the Central Division, fourth in the East)
 

Theis travels with Celtics, but broken nose leaves status up in air

Theis travels with Celtics, but broken nose leaves status up in air

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics don’t need to watch the film from Friday's 107-95 loss to Utah to know they need bring better energy when they return to action tonight at Memphis.

The status of one of the Celtics’ better high-energy players, Daniel Theis, was up in the air after Friday night's game after suffering a broken nose injury just 34 seconds into the loss to Utah. The team initially announced Theis would not travel to Memphis for Saturday night's game, but a last-minute decision to include him on the trip has left the door ajar for him possibly playing.

There are others who log more minutes off the bench than Theis, but it was evident on so many levels the impact of his absence had on Boston’s overall play.

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Utah shot 48.2 percent from the field, and out-rebounded Boston by a decisive 55-31 margin. 

No one is saying Theis' presence would have totally reversed those numbers. But there's a very good chance Theis would have helped to bring both of those numbers down a bit which would have given the Celtics a much better shot at escaping with a win. 

“We miss a lot of defense and energy and rebounding with Theis being out,” Boston’s Terry Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “But it’s the next-man up mentality.”

Celtics' guard/forward Jaylen Brown echoed similar sentiments about Theis.

“We’ve had that next-man-up mentality all year,” Brown said. “We want Theis to come back and have a speedy recovery. Obviously, it’s a need for somebody else to step up.”

Theis has appeared in 29 games this season with two starts. He is averaging 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 12 minutes per game.

The numbers fail to show just how much the 25-year-old rookie’s presence has benefited the Celtics this season.

“I just want to come in, bring energy, defend, rebound, do whatever to help the team,” Theis recently told NBC Sports Boston. “Whatever to win, I want to do.”

It’s unclear when Theis will return to action for the Celtics, but he will in all likelihood get fitted for a mask akin to what Kyrie Irving wore recently.

But between now and then, the Celtics could find themselves looking for someone off the second unit to fill the void left by Theis.

“We got a lot of guys who can play,” Rozier said. “Everybody has to be ready to play. Everybody has to be ready to step in, and be ready to fill in for him.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stars, studs and duds: Rough second quarter took Celtics out of rhythm

Stars, studs and duds: Rough second quarter took Celtics out of rhythm

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are no stranger to having bad quarters of basketball.

All NBA teams go through this throughout the season.

But for the Celtics, it’s rare that one bad quarter of play significantly hinders their chances of winning as was the case on Friday when the Celtics’ second-quarter struggles were literally the difference in their 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz.

In the second quarter, Boston was outscored by 12 points (25-13) – the margin of Utah’s victory.

“Yeah, second quarter kind of sent us … took us out of our rhythm,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Didn’t play well the rest of the game, I didn’t think.”

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And while you have to credit the Jazz (14-15) for playing one of their best games of late in order to get the win, Boston didn’t play with the kind of force or resistance we’ve seen them exude when their backs are to the wall as was the case in the fourth quarter on Friday.

Rather than rising to the occasion, they simply rolled over for a Utath team that had lost nine straight to Boston, and came into the game riding a four-game losing streak.

“We weren’t playing as hard as they were,” Steven said. “We weren’t as organized as they were … everything. And it bit us.”

Boston’s Al Horford thought the Celtics’ offense got really stagnant in the second quarter.

“From the beginning of the quarter, we came into the game talking about executing, moving the ball side to side,” Horford said. “We started the game great I felt, and then in the second we just got away from that. We started playing more one-on-one and it’s hard when you go against a team like that because they’re solid defensively. They make you earn everything you get. We got away from the plan, and I feel like it was a snowball effect from there.”

To have struggles is nothing unusual for this Celtics team.

But Friday was one of the rare games this season when Boston couldn’t overcome those early setbacks and rally for a win.

“Usually for us, we are able to weather that storm,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “But tonight they just wouldn’t let us back in it. It’s a tell-tale sign of a good team, and playing poised and understanding what they want to run and execute at a very high level.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz.

 

STARS

Ricky Rubio

His overall playmaking as both a scorer and facilitator was a huge factor in the game’s outcome. He had a team-high 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting along with seven rebounds and five assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Kyrie Irving

This was one of the rare games this season by the Celtics in which Irving got little support offensively. He led all scorers with 33 points on 11-for-25 shooting along with six assists and four rebounds.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Having a game off did a lot of good for Horford who looked refreshed on the floor for Boston. He had 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting which included knocking down three of his five 3-point attempts. Horford also tallied six rebounds and seven assists.

Jonas Jerebko

Was anyone surprised that the former Celtic had one of his best games this season against his former team? Jerebko came off the Jazz bench to score a season-high 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting with seven rebounds.  

Donovan Mitchell

The top scorer among rookies this season, Mitchell didn’t make a ton of shots but the ones he hit were impactful, for sure. Mitchell had a near double-double with 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting to go with nine assists.

 

DUDS

Jayson Tatum

Tatum’s first points didn’t come until the fourth quarter, which tells you just how rough a night this was for the 19-year-old rookie. He would finish with seven points while missing six of his seven shot attempts.

Celtics bench

Boston needed a spark of some sort from their second unit … and it never came. They collective scored 26 points on 10-for-29 shooting and never seemed to collectively swing the game’s momentum in their favor.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE