Game Preview: Celtics at Bucks
A week ago, a home meeting with the Boston Celtics might have looked like an ideal opportunity for the Milwaukee Bucks to end their longest losing streak in more than 16 years.
But with Boston playing better of late, Milwaukee could come even closer to matching its worst skid ever when it hosts the Celtics Saturday night.
The Bucks suffered their 11th straight loss with a 92-76 setback at Charlotte on Friday. They showed little sign that the slump will end soon, shooting a season-worst 33.3 percent from the field.
Four more losses would equal the club's 15-game skid set March 4-30, 1996.
"We've just got to be professional, we've got to be men and we've got to stand up," coach Larry Drew said. "This is the NBA, and this is life in the NBA. There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves. The only way we get out of this hole is if we make up our minds to go out there and get out of this hole."
While Friday marked the Bucks' seventh straight road loss, home hasn't been too welcoming either. They've dropped five straight in Milwaukee, scoring 81.6 per game during that stretch on 39.1 percent shooting.
Leading scorer O.J. Mayo (14.6 PPG) continues to struggle, shooting 30.8 percent while averaging 8.8 points over his last six games. He was 2 of 11 on Friday with five points.
Milwaukee managed a 105-98 win in Boston on Nov. 1 despite just eight points from Mayo on 2-of-9 shooting.
The Celtics have won two straight on the road and look improved recently, winning three of four overall, including a 103-86 home victory over Cleveland on Friday.
Boston raced out to an 18-2 lead and limited the Cavaliers to 37.2 percent shooting for the night. Opponents are shooting 41.1 percent over the last four games.
"We got great defensive stops to begin the game with. That's how we got that lead," said Jeff Green, who had 31 points after scoring 26 in Wednesday's loss to Memphis. "We are finally putting everything together. We've had our ups and downs throughout the season ... but it was good to put an all-around good game together."
Jordan Crawford also turned in his third-career triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. His 18.3 scoring average in eight career meetings with Milwaukee is his highest against any team.
Boston could look to exploit a weakened Bucks front line on the glass. The Celtics are averaging a plus-5.3 rebounding margin in their last four games after averaging a minus-3.1 margin in the previous 14 contests. Already without Larry Sanders, Caron Butler didn't play for Milwaukee Friday after his knee swelled up in warmups. Ersan Ilyasova was also limited in the second half due to a hamstring injury.
The Bucks rank near the bottom of the league with 39.4 rebounds per game.
Boston had won seven of nine in Milwaukee prior to losing the teams' second meeting there last season.