Bucks 106, Celtics 95
With the Big Three and Kendrick Perkins all watching from the sideline, Boston put tonight's game into the hands of Rajon Rondo and the Celtics reserves. They delivered for nearly three quarters, but in the end, the Bucks were too much to handle down the stretch.
That notion became particularly visible in the final minutes of the third period -- the final 2:42, to be exact -- when Milwaukee put together a spurt that put the game away.
With Shelden Williams and Rasheed Wallace on the floor as Boston's frontcourt duo, the Celtics lacked an athletic big man who could keep up with Milwaukee's bigs on the perimeter and around the basket. Yes, Williams finished with three blocked shots tonight, but he is certainly not the fleetest of foot. With the Williams-Wallace pair on the court, the Bucks used a combination of Ersan Ilyasova and Dan Gadzuric to give the C's a headache.
Ilyasova finished the game with 15 points, and eight of those came in this critical run to close out the third. After Gadzuric used his quickness to maneuver around Boston's bigs and tip in a missed shot, Ilyasova scored those eight points in succession to bring Milwaukee's lead up to eight. Rondo answered with a quick reverse layup, but a Luke Ridnour mid-range jumper and another athletic move from Gadzuric, this time a nice reverse layup, put the Bucks up by 10 heading into the fourth period.
The deficit never dropped below double-digits from that point on, helping Milwaukee notch its 46th win of the season and effectively put loads of pressure on the Miami Heat to knock off New Jersey to grab the fifth seed in the East. Miami was able to do so -- in double-overtime nonetheless -- and will be in Boston to take on the Celtics this weekend in Round 1 of the playoffs.
Key Box Score Line
Being the only Boston starter participating in tonight's game, Rajon Rondo knew that he had to put together a solid performance in order for the C's to have a chance at winning this game. He also needed a bounce-back performance after a forgettable game in Chicago Tuesday night. He achieved the latter, and did his best to achieve the former.
Rondo finished with game-highs of 21 points and 15 assists while also tying for the team-high with six rebounds. He took 12 of Boston's 21 free throw attempts, making seven, and showcased a piece of his game that not many knew existed: posting up. With the smaller Brandon Jennings defending him, Rondo put his back to the basket often throughout the game and did so effectively. We know he won't be doing that against Jennings in the first round of the playoffs now that the Heat are coming to town, but at least we all know now that the post-up game is part of his repertoire.
Box Score Nuggets
- Rajon Rondo recorded game-highs of 21 points and 15 assists.
- Shelden Williams blocked three shots in the game, while Milwaukee totaled only two blocks as a team.
- Each team had as least as many reserves score in double-figures as they did starters
- John Salmons led Milwaukee's starters with 12 points.
- Oliver Lafayette finished with seven points, four rebounds and two assists in his Celtics debut.
- Milwaukee's bench scored 69 points and had four players score at least 14 (Jerry Stackhouse and Luke Ridnour each had 17, Ersan Ilyasova had 15 and Dan Gadzuric had 14.
- Rajon Rondo and Rasheed Wallace tied for the team-high in rebounds with six apiece.
- Boston outscored Milwaukee 44-28 in the paint.
- Marquis Daniels scored 13 points for Boston, while Shelden Williams and Nate Robinson added 12 apiece off the bench.
- The teams tied in second chance points with 13 apiece.
- Milwaukee outrebounded Boston 41-34.
- Luke Ridnour dished out eight assists and shot 6-of-6 from the field en route to his 17 points off the bench for the Bucks.
- Dan Gadzuric recorded a game-high nine rebounds.
- The Big Three and Kendrick Perkins did not play for Boston.
- The Celtics committed only nine total turnovers, while the Bucks committed only eight.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers relays the confidence he has in this team heading into the playoffs: "Yeah, yeah. We're ready. Definitely." He continuned, "What part of 'We're ready' don't you understand? We're ready. I believe we're ready. We'll find it out anyway, but, I do... I believe we're ready to play."