Bucks-Celtics Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks began the season's second half by ending long losing streaks.

The Celtics still aren't happy, but their mood may improve Wednesday night if they can open a four-game homestand by continuing their success against the Bucks.

Boston (16-17) emerged from the All-Star break to beat Cleveland 86-83 on Tuesday to snap a season high-tying five-game skid. The victory wasn't a thing of beauty, as the Celtics committed 18 turnovers, wasted a 16-point, first-quarter lead and needed a Ray Allen dunk with 48.6 seconds left to go ahead for good.

"It was a win, that's all it was for us," coach Doc Rivers said. "It was a good way to end the losing streak, but we have to be better than that. That was awful."

Boston, which is averaging 19.3 turnovers over its last three games, is tied with New York for seventh in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games ahead of a ninth-place tie between the Bucks (14-20) and Cleveland.

"We've got to fight through this," veteran big man Kevin Garnett said. "This is going to be a true grind right here, physically and mentally."

Milwaukee likely feels similarly after ending a six-game home losing streak with Tuesday's 119-118 victory over Washington, secured when Ersan Ilyasova tipped in a Brandon Jennings miss with 2.2 seconds left.

"We're glad to get the win," coach Scott Skiles said. "We're fortunate to win; we'll take it. We've struggled to make the last play several times this year."

Boston has had the upper hand against Milwaukee recently, winning 11 of the last 14 meetings overall and six of seven at TD Garden. The Celtics swept last season's three game series, which culminated in an 87-56 home victory last March 13.

Boston only needed 39 points from the Big Three of Allen, Garnett and Paul Pierce in that meeting. They could use more production from Pierce in particular Tuesday after he was limited to 12 points and six assists last March while committing six turnovers.

Jennings, who had 14 points and 10 assists for the Bucks in Tuesday's win, struggled in the last meeting with the Celtics, finishing with eight points and assists.

Milwaukee reserve Mike Dunleavy is coming off his best performance of 2011-12, scoring a season-high 28 points against the Wizards while hitting half of his 10 3-point attempts. That effort stood in stark contrast to his two points on 1-of-7 shooting in last Wednesday's 110-91 loss at Chicago, the Bucks' final contest before the All-Star break.

It's unclear if Milwaukee center Drew Gooden will be available after he left Tuesday's loss in the third quarter when he landed hard on his back. He'd been playing well, with 15 points and 10 rebounds after missing the previous four games with a sprained right wrist.

If Gooden is sidelined Wednesday, it will mark the third consecutive matchup with Boston that he has missed.

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