The Bucks are very thin in the backcourt right now and that could be tested in a big way Friday night at TD Garden.
Monta Ellis sat out Friday's shootaround with a back injury, according to coach Scott Skiles. And point guard Brandon Jennings participated in part of the session while nursing a sore right ankle.
After shootaround, Jennings said he rolled his ankle in the third quarter Wednesday while trying to defend Memphis forward Rudy Gay.
Jennings said the ankle was fairly swollen.
Ellis and Jennings have been playing huge minutes in recent games with guard Beno Udrih still sidelined by a right ankle sprain. Rookie Doron Lamb has been the primary backup to both guards, and Skiles can use Marquis Daniels or Mike Dunleavy in the backcourt.
Skiles said he wasn't sure if Ellis would be able to play or not.
"He hasn't gotten any treatment or anything," Skiles said. "He just said his back was sore so that's all I know."
Ellis was 1 for 14 in the Bucks' 90-80 loss in Memphis and Jennings was 9 for 26, a combined 10 for 40.
The Bucks lead the season series with Boston, 2-1, and have a rare opportunity to win the series. The last time Milwaukee beat Boston in a season series was in 2005-'06 when the Bucks went 3-0.
"We need a much more energetic effort," Skiles said. "The other night (in Memphis) we just kind of trotted around the floor and didn't execute, still got a bunch of good looks but didn't make them. Defense was acceptable, good enough to win a game. We just couldn't get anything going offensively."
Paul Pierce scored 40 points Wednesday in the Celtics' 103-91 victory over Cleveland as they snapped a three-game skid.
"I watched the game," Skiles said. "He looked like Paul Pierce to me. The guy has been a great player for a long time and if you're not sharp, he's going to burn you.
"It's pretty much that simple."
The Bucks beat Boston at TD Garden in Milwaukee's season opener, 99-88, on Nov. 2. Jennings had a solid game with 21 points, 13 assists and six steals. He also hit a three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining to put the Bucks ahead in their 91-88 victory over the Celtics on Dec. 1 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Boston won in Milwaukee, 96-92, on Nov. 10 as Pierce led the way with 25 points and nine rebounds.
The Bucks will have Luc Richard Mbah a Moute available to defend both Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Mbah a Moute returned to the lineup from off-season surgery in the Dec. 1 game against Boston.
"You've got to be smart about your pace with them," Skiles said. "You don't want to get in some real harem-scarem type game. Your cuts have to be sharp; you have to come off pick-and-rolls hard; you've got to dive hard.
"You're hoping you can have a little bit more energy than their veteran guys. That's kind of the formula to compete against them. You just hope you can accomplish that."
Playing an Eastern Conference rival four times before Christmas is an odd situation. But that's what the schedule-makers gave the Bucks and Celtics.
"If you're thinking longer term, four months down the road, tiebreakers and all kinds of things come into play," Skiles said. "It's a big game. If you can put in a series in your pocket before Christmas against an Eastern Conference team, that's a good thing to be able to do."
The Bucks are 13-11 entering Friday's game and the Celtics are 13-12. Milwaukee will host Cleveland on Saturday night as it ends a stretch of four games in five nights.