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Jan 11, 2024 7:36 am

Bucks look to reverse losing trend against Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks will try to avoid a third straight loss when they face the visiting Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

The Bucks are coming off a 132-116 home defeat to Utah on Monday. It was Milwaukee’s fourth loss in five games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for the Bucks against Utah, but the Jazz made 20 of 44 3-point attempts (45.5 percent).

“That’s a lot 3s, man, I’m not going to lie,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve got to do a better job of defending the 3. But at the end of the day, if you don’t defend the 3, don’t defend the drive, you don’t get rebounds … just got to find our identity.”

Milwaukee guard Damian Lillard didn’t play Monday for personal reasons. Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said Lillard practiced Wednesday and will be available to play against Boston.

Lillard is averaging 25.1 points, 6.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season, his first in Milwaukee since the Bucks acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Celtics trailed by nine late in the fourth quarter, but rallied to beat Minnesota 127-120 in overtime Wednesday. Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 45 points in the win, 26 of which came in the fourth quarter (14) and overtime (12).

“You live for those moments and want to do whatever you can to help your team win,” Tatum said. “That was a fun ballgame toward the end.

“I know we’re a really good team. There’s a lot we can work on, but when we play the right way on both ends of the floor … pretty tough to beat.”

Jaylen Brown added 35 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday win, which improved the Celtics to 18-0 at home this season. Boston coach Joe Mazzulla also praised Brown’s defense after the game.

“It goes back to greatness looks different on different days,” Mazzulla said. “Tonight I thought his defense was elite. His in-traffic rebounds were elite, and I thought he did a great job at the free throw line (13 of 13).

Kristaps Porzingis didn’t play Wednesday because of a knee injury, but Mazzulla said Porzingis will be available to play against Milwaukee.

Thursday’s matchup will be the second game between the Bucks and Celtics this season. Boston prevailed 119-116 at home on Nov. 22. The Celtics built a 21-point first-half lead in that game and fended off a late Milwaukee rally.

Tatum had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Brown finished with 26. Brook Lopez led Milwaukee with 28 points. Lillard had 27 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The Bucks lost back-to-back games against Indiana before they won at San Antonio on Jan. 4. Houston beat Milwaukee on Saturday, and then the Bucks lost to Utah.

“I think we have to keep telling one another we have to stay together,” Antetokounmpo said. “Through bad, through good you just gotta stay together. If you try to go your way or do it yourself, it’s not going to work.

“We’ve been in this position before. It’s OK to be in this position, because I’ve said facing adversity brings out the best in you. But then again, at the end of the day, we have to get better. We have to realize that we have to keep on doing the little things.”

–Field Level Media

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