Celtics

Bucks' Jennings makes his presence known

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Bucks' Jennings makes his presence known

BOSTON With so many talented point guards in the East, it's not that hard to overlook Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings.

But performances like the one he delivered on Friday night against Boston Celtics just might change how the fifth-year guard is seen by others.

Jennings turned in a masterful 21-point, 13-assist night in leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 99-88 win over the C's.

For most of the game, Jennings dominated play by simply being aggressive at both ends of the floor.

"Playing a team like Boston, you have to be aggressive of course," Jennings said. "If not, they'll just take over the game right away. So our whole role was to just come out aggressive."

Jennings didn't try and hide the fact that facing Rajon Rondo only served as added motivation for him to play so well.

And the only way Jennings felt he could hold his own against Rondo, was to try and put Rondo his heels defensively.

"I just wanted to attack Rondo more and make him work because I knew he would do the same to me on the defensive end," Jennings said.

His strong play in the opener bodes well not only for the Bucks, but also for his chances of landing the lucrative long-term contract he's seeking.

The Bucks declined to work out an extension for him, which means he will be a restricted free agent this summer. With a number of teams having significant salary cap space, Jennings could potentially play his way into a max or near-max contract.

He will earn 3.2 million this season.

"You never know how that's going to affect today's player," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "Some guys can play right through stuff like that. Some guys succumb to it. You never know how it's going to affect somebody."

While a more lucrative contract is certainly motivation, Jennings appears to be just as driven to enter that upper echelon of point guards.

Having a big game against Rondo, one of the game's best, is a start after acknowledging that Rondo had out-played him often in previous matchups.

"He Rondo didn't just have good games, he owned me," Jennings said. "But this is a different year and I have to be more aggressive. You know we missed the playoffs two years in a row so it started from tonight and I'm just trying to go out there and compete every night. Whether I shoot bad or not, just as long as they know I gave it my all."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

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Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

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