12/4 Game Preview: Bucks at Celtics
BOSTON -- The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics played each other twice in the first 10 days of the season, each winning on the other's home floor.
They play again at TD Garden on Monday night, but the Bucks have undergone a roster change since they the Celtics last saw them.
Exit Greg Monroe. Enter Eric Bledsoe, freed from his personal purgatory in Phoenix.
Milwaukee (12-9) is 8-3 since the deal.
"It's great. We still got a long way to go," Bucks forward Khris Middleton said after Milwaukee's 109-104 win over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Saturday night. "It's still only been 11 games. You never get to know a player or a team until a full season.
"We still have a lot to learn a lot about one another."
The Bucks held on to beat Sacramento after returning from a western trip that saw them go 4-1. They are a more-than-formidable opponent for the red-hot Celtics.
Boston (20-4) is 2-0 on its current four-game homestand. The Celtics have won 10 of their past 11 home games.
The latest two home wins came after coach Brad Stevens made a lineup change, inserting big man Aron Baynes in favor of Marcus Morris, whose knee has been a nagging problem. Morris isn't thrilled with the switch but has contributed two very productive games since it happened.
After the game Saturday, Stevens said Morris' production isn't what will make up his mind on a game-to-game basis.
"Doesn't really. Starting or when they play doesn't really matter," the coach said. "So, he's still going to start when we feel like the matchup ... is right.
"And the good news is ... that you're not as quick to pull him because of the ... minutes restriction as it's been lifted or increased. You know, having 25-30 (minutes) is much different than 20-22 when you're trying to manage a four-quarter game. So whether he starts, comes off the bench, that's only six minutes of the game. So, it's more important that we're able to put our best foot forward against every opponent.
"And I like the fact that we have some flexibility; I mean, there are some teams you just can't start big against, and some teams that it's hard to start small against. So it's good that everybody is able to play well through that."
The Celtics, winners of 20 of their past 22, became the first team in the league to 20 victories when they topped the Phoenix Suns 116-111 on Saturday.
"I'm not necessarily surprised," said Boston guard Kyrie Irving, who is playing like an MVP and will hear those chants from home crowd again Monday. "I think that the surprise is coming from outside of the locker room. ... We still have a long way to go to consider ourselves a great team, before anyone considers that, which we understand."
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Milwaukee win that came in the Bucks' season opener (and dropped the Celtics to 0-2). The Greek Freak had 28 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in a loss to Boston on Oct. 26. In the latter game, the Celtics' Al Horford had 27 points and nine rebounds, and Irving added 24 points and seven assists.
Antetokounmpo scored 33 points against the Kings on Saturday night as the Bucks posted their third win in a row.
"We came off a long road trip and this was a trap game," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said.