The short-handed Boston Celtics gave the Milwaukee Bucks all they could handle but fell just short in their battle for the two-seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston was without three starters but that didn’t stop them from putting up a good fight against one of the league’s best teams. Here are three takeaways from the 127-121 loss.
Depth will prove crucial for a deep playoff run
Despite the absence of Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, the Celtics held a lead over the Bucks with less than three minutes to go. Although they gave up a 9-0 run to close out the game, they will be glad they had a test like this without some key players as the playoffs approach. Celtics head coach Ime Udoka believed this game provided a ton of value for the role players.
Everyone had the chance the step and some players welcomed the challenge with open arms. Jaylen Brown recorded his second career triple-double, Derrick White scored 19 points and knocked down four triples, Daniel Theis scored 22 points, and rookie Sam Hauser got a chance to showcase his shooting ability.
Marcus Smart was also incredible knocking down seven triples and scoring 29 points while dishing out seven assists. If the bench depth can play like that when the lineup is fully healthy, this team is primed to make a deep playoff run.
Another great offensive display
The Celtics’ offense is clicking at just the right time and pairing that with their elite defense, they will have a lethal combination in the playoffs. They had another great assist night by tallying 30 assists on 43 made baskets. They also shot 21-for-50 from the three-point line to keep them in the game.
It is not a coincidence that the C’s’ shooting numbers are peaking as the assists are piling up. Good ball movement will lead to better looks and the Celtics are putting on a clinic on that side of the ball lately.
No intention of manipulating the standings
It seemed like the Celtics would concede the two-seed to the Milwaukee Bucks when the team announced that both Horford and Tatum would be out for the game. It was clear, however, that once the game started the Celtics had no intention of rolling over.
It is common to see teams rest guys late in the year in order to manipulate the standings so they can finish with a favorable playoff matchup. That seemed even more likely this year with the looming threat of the Brooklyn Nets getting the seventh seed along with the recent struggles of the sixth-seeded Chicago Bulls.
Although the Celtics will likely finish with the three or four seed after tonight’s loss, they still went for it all and showed that they are ready for any challenge in the playoffs.
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