The humor of the question was not totally lost on Isaiah Thomas.
The 5-foot-9 guard was asked if he could imagine would it be like if he had the length of Milwaukee’s 6-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“Is that a short joke?” he quipped. “No, I can’t imagine that.”
Neither can most of the NBA, which has seen Antetokounmpo (pronounced ah-deh-toh-KOON-boh) evolve from the Greek kid with the name that’s hard to spell let alone pronounce, into being one of the most dynamic players in the league to date which landed him a starting spot in the Feb. 19 All-Star Game.
“He’s very talented,” said Thomas who will be Antetokounmpo’s All-Star teammate in New Orleans. “We know if he plays well, they [Milwaukee] usually play well.”
Which is makes this recent stretch of games so baffling.
The Bucks (21-24) come in having lost two in a row and seven of eight.
But in the last eight games, Antetokounmpo has delivered All-Star caliber numbers across the stat sheet: 24.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals.
While he is indeed the leader of a team whose greatest strength is their collective length, this team has a very limited supply of top-flight shooters.
And one of the best of the bunch, Khris Middleton, has been out all season following a hamstring tear shortly before the season was about to start.
There’s a chance that he’ll be back before the All-Star break.
But in the meantime, the Celtics will try to replicate the success they’ve had the past couple of games which has in part been fueled by good ball movement.
Doing so becomes even more important against the Bucks because of their length and ability to cut off passing lanes.
“We have to be ready to make that extra pass because they are long,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “You have to be ready to draw two [defenders] in and kick it out and trust those guys are going to be there to catch it.”
Milwaukee’s length manifests itself defensively, particularly when it comes to defending on the perimeter.
This season, nba.com/stats shows the Bucks defend a league-high 25.5 3-point shots per game, which is part of an overall defense that ranks seventh in contested shots (65.7) per game.
But the Bucks’ length may not be as big a factor as it has been in previous meetings.
Milwaukee lost 102-86 at Toronto on Friday, but played a small-ball lineup that at times had 6-8 Jabari Parker playing center.
The Celtics have had 6-10 Jonas Jerebko and 6-7 Jaylen Brown in the starting lineup the past two games, both providing energy and versatility on defense that has allowed Boston play the ability to better defend teams that decide to go with a smaller, non-traditional lineup and still be able to hold their own against dribble penetration or on the boards.
The goal tonight is pretty simple for Boston.
“We gotta try and sneak one out of Milwaukee,” Thomas said.