One potential playoff preview did not go well for the Milwaukee Bucks, who hope for a better showing against another possible postseason opponent.
A loss to visiting Atlanta on Monday night would increase the Bucks' chances of facing the Hawks in the first round, while a victory would give Milwaukee the season series.
With two games against Boston along with Monday's matchup with the Hawks the last three contests on its schedule, Milwaukee (45-35) is in the uncommon position of having the chance to feel out two teams it may draw in the postseason.
Atlanta (51-29) leads the Celtics by one game for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Bucks are jockeying with Miami for the fifth and sixth positions.
After winning its first three games following the season-ending injury to center Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee lost 105-90 to the Celtics on Saturday night, getting outscored 37-25 in a fourth quarter that featured some physical play.
"You'll see a lot more of that as the season goes on," veteran Jerry Stackhouse said. "At this stage, things are getting a little more intense right now, so you're going to have some moments like that. Hopefully we can stay away from fouls and technicals that cost us points."
The Bucks are 21-7 since acquiring John Salmons from Chicago on Feb. 18, splitting two games with Atlanta in that stretch. Salmons scored 32 points in each game, a 106-102 overtime loss at Atlanta on Feb. 28 and a 98-95 home win March 22.
The loss in Milwaukee was the Hawks' 18th in 21 visits.
Atlanta has won its last 11 home games but continues to have problems on the road, where it had dropped six straight before dominating the final nine minutes of a 105-95 win at Washington on Saturday night.
"That's how we played earlier in the year when we were winning games on the road," coach Mike Woodson told the NBA's official Web site. "We've just got to get back to that, buckle down at home and then we'll see what happens."
Guard Jamal Crawford led the way with 28 points Saturday, going 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Crawford tops the NBA in bench scoring with 18.0 points per game.
"He's been huge for us all year," center Al Horford said. "He's the sixth man of the year. I don't think there is any question about that."
Horford has recorded a pair of double-doubles against the Bucks this season, averaging 14.5 points and 11.0 rebounds, and both games featured matchups with the 7-foot Bogut.
With its Australian standout sidelined, Milwaukee has been starting journeyman Kurt Thomas at center, but the team used a smaller lineup at times against Boston.
"We tried going totally small to see if we could get something going," coach Scott Skiles said. "It seemed like we did for a few minutes, but we just weren't able to sustain it."