The Milwaukee Bucks have been the best team in the NBA all season. At the halfway point of the 2019-20 campaign, Milwaukee has a 6.5-game lead on the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Bucks may as well hang the Central Division banner already. They are 9.5 games ahead of the Indiana Pacers, and the next three teams in the division are all more than 20 games behind the Bucks. Milwaukee is out to win its first conference championship since 1974, and its toughest foe will likely be Boston. The Celtics beat the Bucks once already this season, and they will look to be the first team to beat Milwaukee twice this season on Thursday night.
This game will take place at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on January 16, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on TNT.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
Every Boston fan remembers what happened between these teams in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last year. The Celtics hammered the Bucks in Game 1 of their series, but they were largely lifeless in the next four games. Milwaukee won those four games by an average of 16.3 points to knock Boston out of the postseason.
Boston dealt Milwaukee its second loss of this campaign the day before Halloween in the first meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics topped the Bucks 116-105 thanks to a strong second half that saw Boston outscore Milwaukee 74-47. Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, and Jayson Tatum all scored at least 20 points in the victory, and the Bucks struggled to find their mark aside from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo and Middleton combined to go 18-28 from the floor, but the rest of the team went 20-54.
Center Robert Williams won’t be available for Boston for another two weeks after he injured his hip last week. Power forward Daniel Theis is dealing with a knee injury, and he is considered questionable to play for the Celtics.
Milwaukee might be without center Robin Lopez for this game as the Bucks look to give the veteran big man some time off in anticipation of the long playoff grind to come. He is the only player listed on the injury report for the Bucks though.
Player to Watch
Antetokounmpo is the favorite to win the MVP award for the second straight season. The Greek Freak continues to mesmerize fans on a nightly basis with his incredible skillset, and he can do whatever it takes to lead Milwaukee to wins. He is averaging 29.8 PPG, 12.8 RPG, and 5.5 APG while shooting an incredible 55 percent from the floor. His touch from range still leaves something to be desired as he is a 32.5 percent three-point shooter and 61.5 percent free throw shooter, but his athleticism makes it easy for him to get off good looks no matter who is tasked with guarding him.
The Celtics have the second-best defense in the NBA, allowing just 104.3 PPG. Brad Stevens is one of the smartest coaches in the game, and he continually gets his players to buy in on the defensive end, helping make Boston a title contender after a disappointing 2018-19 campaign. His strategy was to force other players on Milwaukee to beat Boston when these teams met earlier in the season, and they will likely do whatever they can to force the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands.
Milwaukee is 18-2 at home this season, and the Bucks have won eight of their last ten. They will have a night off before hosting Boston, while the Celtics host Detroit on Wednesday night before flying to Milwaukee. That will give the Bucks all the edge they need to get the win.
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