While the Boston Celtics are better known for some of their infamous rivalries with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers, a rivalry with the Milwaukee Bucks has gained much steam (and intrigue) in recent years. Of course, this is because the Celtics and Bucks are perennial top-contenders in the ever-competitive Eastern Conference, which has forced them to face each other in the playoffs multiple times over the past few seasons. Not to mention that each team’s best player (Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks and Jayson Tatum for the Celtics) plays the same position, and often find themselves guarding one another during games. This makes for an entertaining side-story to what is an already enthralling matchup between top-tier teams. Yet, only one of these teams has won an NBA Championship in recent years—and if either wants to win in 2023-24, they’ll first need to beat each other.
In this article, we’ll discuss the head to head history between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, the background to their rivalry, notable past matchups (namely, their series in the 2022 NBA playoffs) and what this rivalry will look like in 2023-24.
Celtics vs Bucks Head to Head History
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks have played each other a total of 272 times (226 times in the regular season, and 46 in the playoffs). The Celtics hold a slight 116-110 edge in the regular season series, as well as in the playoff series, 25-21.
Matchup #1 between the Celtics and the Bucks came on October 26, 1968, when the Celtics beat the Bucks 102-89. The most recent matchup between these two teams was on March 30, 2023, when the Celtics beat the Bucks 140-99. These two teams’ next matchup comes on November 22, 2023, in Boston.
The Bucks hold the longest winning streak in this series, having beat the Celtics 11 straight games from November 11, 1969, to February 28, 1971.
Here is a look at how they game log from March 2023 to November 2018
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics Game Log
|Game No.||Date||Home Team||Away Team||Result||Final Score||Overtime (OT)||Streak||Head-to-Head MIL-BOS|
|226||Mar 30, 2023||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||L||99 – 140||Celtics won 1||110 – 116|
|225||Feb 14, 2023||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||131 – 125||OT||Bucks won 1||110 – 115|
|224||Dec 25, 2022||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||L||118 – 139||Celtics won 1||109 – 115|
|223||Apr 7, 2022||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||127 – 121||Bucks won 2||109 – 114|
|222||Dec 25, 2021||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||117 – 113||Bucks won 1||108 – 114|
|221||Dec 13, 2021||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||L||103 – 117||Celtics won 3||107 – 114|
|220||Nov 12, 2021||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||L||113 – 122||OT||Celtics won 2||107 – 113|
|219||Mar 26, 2021||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||L||114 – 122||Celtics won 1||107 – 112|
|218||Mar 24, 2021||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||121 – 119||Bucks won 1||107 – 111|
|217||Dec 23, 2020||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||L||121 – 122||Celtics won 1||106 – 111|
|216||Jul 31, 2020||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||119 – 112||Bucks won 2||106 – 110|
|215||Jan 16, 2020||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||128 – 123||Bucks won 1||105 – 110|
|214||Oct 30, 2019||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||L||105 – 116||Celtics won 1||104 – 110|
|213||Feb 21, 2019||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||W||98 – 97||Bucks won 2||104 – 109|
|212||Dec 21, 2018||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||W||120 – 107||Bucks won 1||103 – 109|
|211||Nov 1, 2018||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||L||113 – 117||Celtics won 1||102 – 109|
Celtics vs Bucks Rivalry Background
Although both the Celtics and Bucks have long been Eastern Conference foes (and have had a number of intense playoff series), their modern rivalry really begins when the aforementioned Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum were drafted to the Bucks and Celtics. After being drafted by the Bucks in 2013, Antetokounmpo gradually became one of the NBA’s best players—allowing the Bucks to become a top team.
Same story goes for Jayson Tatum, who immediately made the Celtics a championship contender after joining the team in 2017. In fact, the Celtics and Bucks met in the first round of the playoffs during Tatum’s rookie season, in 2018. The series was extremely even matched and tightly contested — but the Celtics ultimately won the series in seven games (before ultimately losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Finals). This Celtics-Bucks playoff matchup birthed a rivalry that has produced many fascinating games in recent years.
Celtics vs Bucks Notable Past Matchups
After that loss in the first round to the Celtics in the 2018 playoffs, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks clearly spent all summer thinking about getting revenge. Just one season later, the Bucks and Celtics rematched in the 2019 playoffs, during the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bucks were able to flip the script in this series, beating the Celtics in five games. Then the Bucks lost in the Conference Finals that season to the Toronto Raptors.
While these two teams have each made the playoffs every single season since then, they have only faced each other in the 2022 playoffs. It is worth noting, however, that the Milwaukee Bucks won the 2021 NBA Championship, while the Celtics haven’t yet won a Championship during the Jayson Tatum era.
The 2022 NBA regular season finished with the Boston Celtics securing the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and the Milwaukee Bucks securing the #3 seed. After each team won their first round series with relative ease, they were matched up in the second round.
Game 1 of this 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals series took place in Boston. Led by a 24-point triple double by Antetokounmpo, along with 25 points from Jrue Holiday, the Bucks were able to come to Boston, set a physical tone to the series, and win Game 1 by a score of 101-89.
Game 2 was a much different story. Still in Boston, the Celtics blew the Bucks out of the water in the first half, entering the locker room with a 65-40 lead. Ultimately, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 59 points in the game, and the Celtics completed their Game 2 blowout of the Bucks by a score of 109-86.
Which brought the 1-1 series to Milwaukee for the first time. In what ended up being the most exciting game in the entire series (the lead changed between teams 12 times, and the game was tied 12 separate times, too), the Bucks were able to withstand a late-game comeback by the Celtics, and won Game 3 by a score of 103-101. It also helped that Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 42 points in the victory.
Game 4 was also in Milwaukee — but this one belonged to Boston. Al Horford erupted for 30 points for the Celtics, and Boston outscored Milwaukee 43-28 in the 4th quarter to steal Game 4 by a score of 116-108, making series even once again.
Game 5 returned to Boston. In another absolute thriller, extremely impressive defense by the Bucks in crunch time (and a 40 point, 11 rebound effort by Antetokounmpo) was enough to offset 34 points from Tatum and 26 from Brown, and the Bucks won the away game 110-107 and took a commanding 3-2 series lead.
Game 6, however, was Boston’s from start to finish. They outscored the Bucks every quarter, and cruised to a 108-95 victory to set up Game 7 in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t show up in Game 7. They were once again dominated throughout the entire game, and the Celtics — led by 27 points from Grant Williams — won 109-81 to win the series and eventually advance to the NBA Finals (where they’d lose to the Golden State Warriors.)
Since the Celtics and Bucks didn’t meet in the 2023 playoffs, this is where their rivalry stands today.
Celtics vs Bucks 2023-24 Matchup Analysis
The Celtics and Bucks are set to face each other four times in the 2023 NBA regular season: on November 22 (in Boston), January 11 (in Milwaukee), March 20 (in Boston), and April 9 (in Milwaukee).
The biggest difference in this rivalry from recent years is the Bucks trading for superstar point guard Damian Lillard. This — combined with the fact that the Celtics lost Marcus Smart, their best defensive player who would have guarded Lillard, during the offseason — makes it so the Bucks might have the advantage against the Celtics this season. Yet, with the star players on both sides all in their respective primes, the Bucks and Celtics each look poised to finish the regular season atop the Eastern Conference once more — which will hopefully mean that they’ll face off in the 2024 NBA playoffs. How that potential series will go remains a mystery. But what’s for certain is that each game the Bucks and Celtics plays is guaranteed to be top-tier TV.
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