Bucks Bring New-Look Rotation To Boston

BOSTON – Tonight will mark the third meeting of the young season between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, after the two teams faced off twice during the first 10 days of the campaign. This time, however, the Bucks will be featuring a much different look when they hit the parquet floor at TD Garden.

After a 4-6 start to the season, the Bucks revamped their roster by acquiring Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Greg Monroe and two future draft picks. The shake-up has worked in Milwaukee’s favor so far, having gone 8-3 since adding their new starting point guard.

“I think making the trade for Bledsoe was something where we felt that he fit what we were trying to do offensively and defensively,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said following his team’s shootaround this afternoon. “His speed is something that we didn’t have, and he’s making the adjustment.”

Bledsoe’s run-and-gun style has provided new life to Milwaukee’s starting unit, and his offensive skills have given the Bucks a more balanced attack. Much of the load on that end had been on the shoulders of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was averaging 31.9 points per game before trade. After the trade, Antetokounmpo has averaged 26.8 PPG, while Bledsoe has chipped in with 16.9 PPG.

“It makes us a better team now when we don’t have to rely on Giannis going big to give us a chance to win,” explained Kidd.

The Bucks also don’t have to rely on Antetokounmpo handling the ball as much, now that they have a true point guard in Bledsoe. This makes them a bit more unpredictable on their offensive possessions.

“Whoever gets the rebound brings it up,” said Bledsoe, who has replaced reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon in the starting lineup. “And coach Kidd draws up plays in timeouts on who’s handling it and who doesn’t, so we just go with it.”

Bledsoe’s addition has also made a great impact on Milwaukee’s defense. The team is allowing 9.2 fewer PPG since the trade went down, largely thanks to the pressure that he has applied (2.1 steals per game) on opposing guards.

With that being said, Kidd admits that Bledsoe will likely need some help tonight when going up against Kyrie Irving.

“Kyrie is a tough cover no matter who you have,” said Kidd. “We’ve just gotta try to throw a lot of different bodies at him and make it tough. He’s one of the best finishers, and then we all know he can shoot the ball extremely well. So you just try to wear him down, make him try to play on the other end defensively. But he’s going to make shots. He’s one of the best players in the world. And you just try to make him work for everything.”

The plus side of the trade for Boston is that Monroe is no longer in a Bucks uniform. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound bruiser has always been a nightmare matchup for the Celtics, having put up career numbers of 15.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game against them.

The negative side is that the Bucks are rolling behind their new point guard, and should present the Celtics with a whole new list of challenges this time around.