Two of the NBA’s best teams will tangle Tuesday night when the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics are at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Bucks.
The game will also feature two of the NBA’s marquee players in Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Boston’s Jayson Tatum. Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.4 points, third best in the NBA, and 12.3 rebounds per game. Tatum is averaging 30.5 points, sixth best, and 8.6 rebounds per contest.
Tatum had 41 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals when the Celtics beat the Bucks 139-118 at Boston on Dec. 25. Antetokounmpo had 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists in the loss.
Milwaukee beat the Los Angeles Clippers 119-106 on the road Friday to extend its winning streak to 10 games. It’s the franchise’s first double-digit-winning streak since winning 18 in a row during the 2019-20 season.
“The guys’ focus has been good,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’re obviously in a good rhythm, so it’s good that we have a couple of days without a game. Catch up on our bodies and things like that.”
Antetokounmpo, who received the most votes among Eastern Conference players for Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game, led Milwaukee with 35 points in the victory over the Clippers. Brook Lopez added 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday finished with 19 points for the Bucks, who have won 12 of their last 13.
“We’re all playing confidently, playing together and clicking,” Lopez said.
The Celtics have been without some key pieces lately, but will enter Tuesday’s matchup on a four-game winning streak. Boston was missing Jaylen Brown (facial contusion), Marcus Smart (ankle) and Malcolm Brogdon (Achilles soreness) in Sunday’s 119-109 home triumph over Memphis. Brown and Smart could be out until after the All-Star break.
“Another big team win with guys out,” Tatum said. “So we’ll take it.”
Tatum struggled from the field against Memphis — 3 of 16 for 16 points — but the Celtics received a 23-point performance from Derrick White, who also had 10 assists.
“That’s the beauty of this team,” White said. “We’re just so deep. We’ve got a lot of guys that can do a little bit of everything.”
Boston’s Sam Hauser tied his career-high by making six 3-pointers and finished with 20 points.
“We have some of our top dogs out now and it’s just an opportunity for guys to showcase what they can do,” Hauser said. “Try to fill that void of the guys that were out. They bring a lot to the table. We try to do our best to do whatever we can to help the team win.”
The Bucks and Celtics both were active before last week’s trade deadline. The Celtics gained frontcourt depth by picking up center Mike Muscala in a trade with Oklahoma City, and the Bucks landed veteran forward Jae Crowder in a three-team deal with Indiana and Brooklyn.
Phoenix first shipped Crowder to Brooklyn earlier in the week after he had been at odds with the Suns and had yet to play this season. Crowder is not expected to make his Bucks debut until after the break.
“(Crowder) can space the floor for us,” Antetokounmpo said. “He brings veteran leadership, toughness to the team. Obviously two years ago we had that with P.J. (Tucker). I think Jae could definitely bring that for us.”
–Field Level Media