Blakely: Celtics-Bucks preview

Blakely: Celtics-Bucks preview
November 10, 2012, 4:16 pm
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MILWAUKEE Rajon Rondo is a marked man every time he steps on the court.

The fact that he's a three-time All-Star has a way of making most of his point guard brethren try and step their game up.

That was certainly the case with Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings who delivered a dominant performance in handing the Celtics a 99-88 loss in their home opener on Nov. 2.

Rondo and the C's will get a shot at redemption tonight as they travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks.

Milwaukee did a number of things well against the Celtics last week, but few stand out as much as Jennings' mastery of the C's defense as he poured in 21 points and 13 assists.

"I just wanted to attack Rondo more and make him work because I knew he would do the same to me on the defensive end," Jennings said at the time.

Jennings, who will become a restricted free agent this summer, has plenty of reasons to be more fired up than usual this season.

He is trying to exorcise a few basketball demons from his past, specifically players who lit him up ... players like Rondo.

"He (Rondo) didn't just have good games, he owned me," Jennings said. "But this is a different year and I have to be more aggressive. You know we missed the playoffs two years in a row so it started from (Nov. 2) and I'm just trying to go out there and compete every night. Whether I shoot bad or not, just as long as they know I gave it my all."

Getting a better handle on how to contain Jennings will be central to Boston's chances at coming away with a win that would even their overall record up. Here are some other keys to the Celtics (2-3) getting back to .500 this season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Bucks have made a point of getting out in transition as often as they can, which poses a legitimate threat to the Celtics. Milwaukee ranks second in the league with 18.8 fast break points per game while the Celtics defense is giving up 17.2 fast break points per game that ranks 28th in the NBA.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs. Tobias Harris: You can bet Pierce and the C's haven't forgotten Harris' 18-point breakout game in the season opener last week. "He's another kid, because of my son (Austin Rivers, a first-round of the New Orleans Hornets in June), I got a chance to see him," Rivers said. "I've watched him in AAU basketball for several years. He can play. "He's a matchup problem for 3s (small forwards) because of his size and his quickness. You see him a ton, but you don't see him in that way. He's pretty good."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee had a strong first quarter against Philadelphia, tallying all six of his points. But like the rest of his teammates, consistency remains an issue of sorts for him.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston is connecting on 38 percent of its 3s this year, which ranks eighth in the NBA. However, the Celtics are in the bottom 10 - No. 28 actually - on 3-point attempts with 14.2 per game. The C's are due for one of those nights when the 3-ball is launched repeatedly. But it won't be easy against a Milwaukee team that gives up a league-low 16 3s per game.