Preview: Bucks vs. Celtics
With their seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs wrapped up, the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics don’t have much to play for as they meet in their finale Wednesday night.
The Bucks do have the chance to clinch their first winning record in five seasons while the Celtics can close out the regular season with a pair of lengthy win streaks.
Locked into the sixth spot in the East, Milwaukee will face Chicago or Toronto in the opening round. It can enter that series with its first above-.500 finish since going 46-36 in 2009-10.
"We’re just trying, with our foundation, to get better with that. We’re young. We’re learning how to play hard. We’re learning how to play together," coach Jason Kidd said.
Milwaukee, a franchise-worst 15-67 in 2013-14 before hiring Kidd, clinched its playoff spot by beating Brooklyn – his former team – 96-73 on Sunday. Michael Carter-Williams then got the best of his former club by matching a season high with 30 points in a 107-97 victory over Philadelphia on Monday.
That victory was Milwaukee’s third in a row, but Boston (39-42) is on an even longer streak after a dramatic 95-93 win over the Raptors on Tuesday. Jae Crowder gave the Celtics the No. 7 seed by hitting a last-second fall-away jumper.
The Celtics, who face Central Division champion Cleveland in the opening round, will try for a sixth consecutive win and seventh in a row on the road.
"We’ve got to go play Milwaukee (on Wednesday) and try to finish off the season right," guard Evan Turner said.
Boston hasn’t won six in a row since a seven-game run Jan. 27-Feb. 10, 2013, and hasn’t taken seven straight away from home since a nine-game streak Nov. 22-Dec. 25, 2009.
Coach Brad Stevens indicated that he might rest some players Wednesday. Starting guard Avery Bradley will sit out after limping off with an ailing left leg Tuesday.
"We’ll play some guys a lot less," he said. "I assume we’ll go deep into our bench (Wednesday) night."
It’s uncertain if Kidd will do the same as the Bucks try for their first season sweep of the Celtics since 2005-06.
O.J. Mayo had 24 points, one shy of matching a season high, and Ersan Illyasova scored 11 of his 17 during a key 18-2 run in the third quarter of a 110-101 victory in Boston on April 3.
A 96-93 victory Feb. 7 was Milwaukee’s third in four home games against the Celtics.
Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points for Boston in the April matchup. He’s averaged 23.4 and 59.0 percent shooting in his last five matchups, going 14-of-24 from 3-point range.