Bucks face Celtics, aim to finish winning trek

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Khris Middleton and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to complete a winning road trip as they face a returning Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

Middleton’s 24 points paced the Bucks in a 112-97 win at the New York Knicks on Sunday. The victory was Milwaukee’s second straight after the team opened its four-game trip with a loss to Miami on Wednesday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo notched his first triple-double of the season with 20 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Jrue Holiday contributed 13 points and five assists in a team-leading 34 minutes for Milwaukee.

“Your veterans, your leaders kind of set the tone early, and I thought (Middleton) did that,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I really thought the focus of the team (Sunday) was good, but I think it starts with he and Giannis and Jrue.”

Bobby Portis totaled 19 points and 10 rebounds while Grayson Allen added 12 points as all five Milwaukee starters scored in double figures. Rodney Hood chipped in 14 points and Pat Connaughton scored 10 off the bench to complete a well-rounded Bucks’ scoring attack.

Milwaukee never trailed and led by as many as 21 points in the second quarter. Overall, the Bucks have won 12 of their past 14 games.

The Bucks were without Wesley Matthews against the Knicks after the veteran guard entered the league’s health and safety protocols following Friday’s win at Houston.

Boston will return to its home court Monday after a disappointing West Coast trip. The Celtics dropped four of their five games on the trek, including a 111-90 decision against shorthanded Phoenix on Friday for their third consecutive loss.

The team played all five of its games out West without All-Star Jaylen Brown, but the swingman is set to make his return against Milwaukee on Monday. Brown had been sidelined by a nagging right-hamstring injury.

“I’m feeling good,” Brown said Sunday. “I’m feeling like myself, like how I started the season and how I was starting to feel coming back from COVID. … It’s been difficult to watch, especially wanting to be out there.”

Overall, the Celtics have dropped six of their previous nine games.

Jayson Tatum had 24 points and seven rebounds to lead the Celtics in the 21-point loss against the Suns. Dennis Schroder added 15 points and Robert Williams III 10 for a Boston team that shot just 37.6 percent from the field (35-of-93).

Despite having one of their best offensive performances during the trip in a 145-117 rout at Portland on Dec. 4, the Celtics couldn’t keep up with a Phoenix squad that played without stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

On Monday, Boston will be without guard Josh Richardson as he remains in the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Guard Marcus Smart is probable with a non-COVID illness, according to Boston.

Celtics forward Bruno Fernando also will miss the game with a back injury.

It will be the second meeting of the season between Milwaukee and Boston. On Nov. 12, the Celtics earned a 122-113 overtime win at home against a Bucks team that was without Antetokounmpo and Middleton.

Schroder had a season-high 38 points to lead the Celtics in that victory while Portis’ 22 points paced the Bucks.

–Field Level Media

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