Celtics

Let's go, Milwaukee!

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Let's go, Milwaukee!

For most of this season, Celtics fans have kept a distant eye on the Clippers.

Not only for Blake Griffin's highlights, Chris Paul's wizardry and Vinny Del Negro's hilarious impression of an NBA coach, but because Boston owns LAC's first round pick. So, as it goes, the worse the Clippers play, the better the Celtics draft position; the better the Celtics draft position, the more Danny Ainge will have to offer for Dwight Howard.

Or whatever.

But as we head down the stretch this season, aside from getting wrapped up in the Celtics resurgence and outwardly rooting for the Clippers to crumble, there's another team on Boston's radar.

The Milwaukee Bucks.

Why the Bucks?

Two words: Keyon Dooling.

As you know, the Celtics acquired Dooling from Milwaukee in January in exchange for the rights to Albert Miralles (a 29-year-old Spanish center who Boston acquired from Miami in 2005 and will very likely never play an NBA game). In other words, they traded Dooling for nothing. They said, "Hey, Danny. We don't really want to pay this guy. Do you?"

And Danny did.

But there was one little twist: A conditional second-pick (Top 44 protected).

The Bucks were so ecstatic to free up Dooling's roster spot and cap space that they said: "OK, tell you what, if we finish with one of the 16 best records in the league, you can have our second round pick." And that was that.

Keyon Dooling and a conditional second round pick for the rights to the Badalona Butcher.

Fast forward to today and here's a look at the middle of the NBA Standings:

14. Denver 31-26
15. (t) New York, 29-27
Philadelphia, 29-27
Phoenix, 29-27
18. Utah, 29-28
19. Milwaukee, 28-28

Translation: Milwaukee's only game out of the Top 16, and the Celtics are only one game out of another draft pick.

Maybe it's not as exciting as the Clippers No. 1, but when you consider that Boston's had about as much luck in the second round as they have in the first, and the fact that an extra second round pick is better than no extra second round pick, I'd say Milwaukee's push to the Sweet 16 is worth keeping an eye on.

As is this: The Celtics host the Bucks on the last day of the season.

If JaJuan Johnson and E'twaun Moore are in the starting line-up, you'll know why.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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