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PREVIEW: Milwaukee Bucks face Boston Celtics, look for 8th straight win

Mar 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson (3) during the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson (3) during the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks are enjoying their best run of the season, even if their top player didn’t step foot on the court in their most recent game.

Winners of a season-best seven in a row and 12 of their past 13, the Bucks will try to continue their ascent on Wednesday night when they host Boston in the first of two consecutive games against the Celtics. Milwaukee also will be out for revenge after losing to Boston 122-121 in the season opener.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo’s availability is in question for Wednesday because he has a sprained left knee, an injury that prevented the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player from playing Monday against Indiana.

“We’re hoping it’s shorter rather than longer, but we’ll see how these first 48 to 72 hours go, and we’ll know more then,” coach Mike Budenholzer said before the Bucks’ 140-113 victory over the Pacers.

Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton made their presence felt in Antetokounmpo’s absence. Holiday had 28 points and 14 assists, and Middleton collected 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

“When somebody like our best player is not playing that night, we kind of lock in,” Holiday said. “Everybody has to do a little bit more. It’s a testament to the team we have.”

Pat Connaughton stepped in for Antetokounmpo to add 20 points and nine rebounds. Connaughton also delivered from 3-point range, making 6-of-7 attempts as the Bucks shot 61.5 percent (24 of 39) from beyond the arc.

The Celtics have been misfiring of late, losing four of their past five to drop below .500 for the season at 21-22. Boston fell to 8-15 on the road after opening a four-game trek with a 132-126 overtime setback to Memphis on Monday.

Jaylen Brown scored 27 points and Jeff Teague added 26 on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor for the Celtics, who played without the team’s Nos. 1 and 3 scorers. All-Star Jayson Tatum (team-leading 24.9 points per game) dealt with “dizziness,” per coach Brad Stevens, and Kemba Walker (17.7 ppg) sat out the second game of a back-to-back set.

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“Not having Kemba and Jayson is pretty tough, but the guys who had an opportunity to play (Monday) played hard,” Teague said. “We’ve got winners in this locker room, so guys are going to compete at a high level and try to do their best and do their job to get us a win.”

Brown had 33 points in the first encounter with Milwaukee, and Tatum highlighted his 30-point performance with six 3-pointers, including the winning shot over Antetokounmpo in the final second.

Antetokounmpo finished with 35 points and 13 rebounds in that game, and Middleton had 27 and 14, respectively.

–Field Level Media