Celtics-Bucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 01, 2012
The Boston Celtics are missing Rajon Rondo for one more game, but Courtney Lee will try to soften the blow of that absence again. Visiting the sputtering Milwaukee Bucks may also help. With Lee expected to start at the point again, the Celtics attempt to continue their success against the Bucks by getting another win at the Bradley Center on Saturday night. Rondo, the NBA's leader with 12.9 assists per game, will serve the second of his two-game suspension for shoving Brooklyn's Kris Humphries into the stands in retaliation for a hard foul on Kevin Garnett in Wednesday's 95-83 loss. Boston (9-7) didn't seem to miss the All-Star guard Friday, when it never trailed in a 96-78 victory over Portland, winning for the third time in four tries. "(Rondo's) our leader, so it's tough when he's not here," said forward Jeff Green, who had a season-high 19 points. "So everybody as a group has to pull together as a team and try and take his place." Specifically, it'll be Lee who fills in for Rondo again. Acquired in a three-team trade from Houston over the summer to add depth, Lee had 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals against the Trail Blazers, finding extra motivation after coach Doc Rivers called his team "soft" following the defeat to the Nets. "Nobody wants to be called soft," Lee said. "I took that personal because I know that I'm far from being soft and I think our team took it personal, too." Lee averaged 16.3 points while making 8 of 16 shots from beyond the arc in his first four career visits to Milwaukee (7-7), but he missed all three field-goal attempts in 28 minutes off the bench in a 96-92 win Nov. 10. The Celtics have won 15 of their last 19 games against the Bucks, including seven of nine at the Bradley Center. Paul Pierce had 25 points and nine rebounds in the latest meeting after being held to 11 and six in a 99-88 home loss Nov. 2. He's spurred Boston's four-game winning streak in Milwaukee, averaging 24.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting - 7 for 12 from beyond the arc. The Bucks have dropped five of six after opening the season 6-2, and their latest shooting performance was their worst of the season. They made just 36.6 percent of their attempts - 5 of 18 from beyond the arc - in Friday's 95-85 loss at Minnesota. "I think as a unit it doesn't matter who takes the shots, we just have to keep playing through whatever," guard Brandon Jennings said. "You see a lot of heads go down when guys are missing shots, but it's still 48 minutes so you still have to play through the whole game no matter what's going on." Jennings had 18 points in each of the last two games, but was 6 for 19 from the floor Friday. He connected on just 1 of 11 shots - 1 of 7 from long range - to finish with four points in the latest meeting with the Celtics, but he had a team-high 21 points with 13 assists at Boston on Nov. 2. Monta Ellis, who matched Jennings' 18 points against the Timberwolves, has averaged 25.3 over his last six games against the Celtics, getting a season-high 32 on Nov. 10. Larry Sanders is coming off his first triple-double after tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise-record with 10 blocks while adding 10 points and 12 rebounds Friday.
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