Since Boston’s new Big Three were united before last season, home losses for the Celtics have been rare.
Back-to-back losses, however, have been even less frequent.
The reigning NBA champions will try to rebound from their first home loss of the season on Saturday night in Milwaukee, where the Bucks are looking for their third straight win despite being without star Michael Redd.
In addition to ending a six-game winning streak, Friday’s 94-85 loss to Denver was only Boston’s eighth in 61 home games including the postseason since the beginning of the 2007-08 campaign.
After trailing by six at halftime, the Celtics (8-2) allowed just 16 third-quarter points to take a 65-64 lead, but their typically tough defense softened in the fourth as they allowed 30 points.
Paul Pierce had averaged 35 points in his previous two games, but he was just 4-of-12 from the field and scored 19, while former Bucks star Ray Allen had 18 in the first quarter but only eight the rest of the way.
“We had our chance to win the game,” forward Kevin Garnett said, “and we didn’t take advantage of that.”
Last season, the Celtics rarely passed up a chance to bounce back. In the regular season, they followed 12 of their 16 losses with victories, including all six of their home defeats. After a 110-92 home loss to Utah on March 14, they visited Milwaukee the next night and posted a 99-77 win.
Redd was in the lineup for the Bucks that night, but he may not be on Saturday as he’s missed the last six games with an ankle injury.
Milwaukee (5-5) dropped three of its first four without him - including a 101-89 loss at Boston last Friday - but the Bucks have rebounded with back-to-back wins. They beat San Antonio 82-78 at home on Wednesday, then went on the road and outlasted Memphis 101-96 in overtime Friday night.
“It was another hard-fought win, a professional win,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.
Richard Jefferson had 26 points and Ramon Sessions added 20 off the bench, including a key 3-pointer to tie the game at the end of regulation and two go-ahead free throws in the final minute of overtime.
“Our young guys are stepping up for us, which is a great thing to be part of,” center Andrew Bogut said.
Not only is Sessions averaging 16.1 points in his second season, but the Bucks also got 19 points and 17 rebounds from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Friday in the rookie’s second career start, contributing to their dominating 62-36 edge on the boards.
“Pretty soon we should stop being surprised by anything he does,” Skiles said of Mbah a Moute. “He is clearly a good player and able to play at this high level. He works hard. It’s nice to see people like that get rewarded.”
The Celtics were the only ones reaping rewards against Milwaukee last season, winning all four meetings, including a pair in April during which Boston’s starters played limited minutes while resting up for the playoffs.