Hawks are first-round playoff opponent
The Bucks’ 106-95 victory over Boston on Wednesday, and Miami’s victory over New Jersey in double overtime, finalized Milwaukee’s playoff plans.
The Bucks had cleared out of the dressing room here by the time the matchups were set. But they were pleased with a season in which they finished at 46-36, a 12-game improvement over last season. That was the biggest in the Eastern Conference as the Bucks snapped a two-game losing streak and are in the playoffs for the first time in four years.
“We didn’t want to go into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak,” said Jerry Stackhouse, who tied Luke Ridnour with a team-high 17 points. “Winning your last game gives you a little bit of confidence.”
Even if it came against a team that didn’t use four starters—their big three (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen) plus center Kendrick Perkins. He has 15 technical fouls and another might have brought a one-game suspension in the playoffs. Rivers said a call to the NBA didn’t provide an answer as to whether a suspension would be served then or at the beginning of next season.
Milwaukee used its starters more sparingly than usual.
“That was our plan going into the game and yet still try to win,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We just wanted to play well and get some momentum and get focused.”
The Celtics would have played the Bucks in the first round had the Nets defeated the Heat. Allen said it made no difference to him.
“It has nothing to do with those two teams,” Allen said after the Bucks handed the Celtics their seventh loss in 10 games. “It’s all about us.”
“I’m glad the regular season is over,” Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings said. “Now we can get down to serious business. Every game matters.”
Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 15 assists for the Celtics.
“Everybody says they have three stars—KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce,” Jennings said, “but he’s the key.”
The other three, though, will be well rested.
On Wednesday night, they took their last lead, 72-71, on a 3-pointer by Michael Finley with 4:43 left in the third quarter. Then the Bucks finished the quarter with a 17-6 run that gave them an 88-78 lead going into the fourth. Milwaukee led by at least 10 points the rest of the way.