BOSTON -- Figuring out how to slow down Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo will be priority number one for the Celtics when they host the Bucks tonight.
But just as big a concern for the Celtics should be how to get points because as talented as the Bucks have proven themselves to be this season when it comes to scoring, their defense has been among the league's best as well.
The Celtics (18-12) will see this first-hand tonight as they try and snap a two-game losing streak while facing a Milwaukee (21-9) team whose strong play defensively compliments an offense which averages a league-best 117.8 points per game.
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That strong defense more than anything else has made it difficult for teams to generate any kind of offense, which is evident by them allowing 107.9 points per game, good for the ninth-best scoring defense in the NBA, along with a defensive rating (103.0) which is fourth in the NBA.
But a deeper dive into their defensive stats reveals the various pieces that make up a well-put-together defensive puzzle.
According to NBA.com/stats, the Bucks come in tops in the league defensively in fewest points allowed on turnovers (14.2); second-chance points (10.9); fast-break points (9.3); and points in the paint (40.4).
As for the Celtics, an already challenging Bucks team becomes even more difficult to contend with as Boston finds itself trying to overcome a rash of injuries to several key players.
What really hurts the Celtics on the injury front, is that most come at the big forward/center position.
Al Horford (left knee) will miss his seventh consecutive game. His backup, Aron Baynes, suffered a broken right hand in a loss to Phoenix on Wednesday. Baynes has since had surgery and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
Boston has also been without Guerschon Yabusele since he sprained his right ankle against New Orleans on Dec. 10. He was left off the team’s injury report for tonight’s game, which means he’s available.
Still, even if they get a chance to welcome Yabusele back to join the only two healthy bigs in Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III, it doesn't take away from the huge challenge awaiting them.
Limiting Antetokounmpo will be a chief concern for Boston, but finding ways to get buckets against the Bucks... that might be an even bigger challenge.
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