Tuesday, January 29
7:30 PM ET
TV: NBA TV, CSN, & The Score
American Airlines Arena
After a heart-breaking loss at Amway Arena to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Hedo Turkoglu, the Celtics will attempt to bounce back tonight in Miami. Kevin Garnett sat out Sunday’s loss to Orlando due to an abdominal strain, and he Celtics struggled mightily in spurts on both ends of the floor. The ball movement was nowhere near at the level it should have been, the defense only came sporadically, and the intensity level was as low as it has been all year long. Garnett was not happy that Doc put his foot down the refused to let him play on Sunday, but the leading vote-getter for this year’s All-Star game is listed as a gametime decision tonight. Should he sit out another game, however, many have suggested that Leon Powe may get the nod as the starting power forward, as he matches up almost perfectly with bruiser Udonis Haslem of the Heat.
The Heat have come as close as you can get to hitting rock bottom. The 9-33 club had gone nearly a full month without winning a game at one point (December 25-January 24), until finally breaking out of that devastating 15-game funk with a 98-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers this past Saturday. Ironically, Celtics fans laugh at a 15-game losing streak. Last season, C’s fans went 35 days without witnessing a Celtic win. Boy, it’s amazing how quickly times have changed.
A turnaround is quite possible for the Miami Heat, as well. It is very unlikely and nearly impossible for that turnaround to take place this season, but Miami has a lot to look forward to this summer. In addition to the likely top five draft pick in this year’s extremely deep and top-heavy draft class, Miami has over $20 million in salary coming off the books this summer. While many young stars may be available for Miami to select in this June’s draft, the 2008 free agent class is stacked with quality basketball players, including some All-Star caliber assets such as Elton Brand (if he declines his player option), Ron Artest (if he declines his player option), Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas (if he declines his player option), and more. This basketball team may presently be brutal to watch for Heat fans, but with Dwyane Wade, this year’s lottery pick, upcoming cap room, and a great location for free agents, things are destined to take a turn for the better in no time.
With that said, here in the Boston area, we don’t feel any sympathy. Garnett or not, let’s knock ‘em dead, green.
C Kendrick Perkins / Mark Blount
PF Leon Powe / Udonis Haslem
SF Paul Pierce / Dorell Wright
SG Ray Allen / Dwyane Wade
PG Rajon Rondo / Jason Williams
Key Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. Mark Blount
The head-to-head matchup of Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen may be a bit more intriguing to the average fan, but for Celtics fans, there aren’t too many things more tasteful than getting a chance to beat up on Mark Blount. If you walk up to any Celtics fan and mutter the name "Mark Blount," you will never receive a smile or positive reaction in return. Kendrick Perkins wouldn’t shell out many kind remarks about the former bubble-gum popping disaster, either. It was well known that Perkins wasn’t too fond of Blount back when the two were teammates – let’s hope the big fella can show skipper who’s boss tonight.
Celtics X-Factor: Forwards
Although Garnett may give it a go tonight, as long as he is out of the lineup, every fill-in forward on this team needs to make sure they all step up and bring something to the table. Scalabrine needs to make sure he brings the hustle plays and stretches the defense. Posey needs to play hard-nosed defense, keep the defense honest with his outside shot, and help out on the boards. Leon Powe needs to muscle around with Haslem and continue to grab rebounds at a high level. Glen Davis needs to get position and give the team a little offensive lift off the bench. Everybody has an increased role, as long as KG is on the pine. The C’s can’t afford for these guys to break rotations or make multiple mistakes. Doc doesn’t have the luxury of pulling them and replacing them with an 11-time All-Star anymore. It’s time for the role players to step up.
BOS – Kevin Garnett (strained abdominal muscle – gametime decision)
BOS – Scot Pollard (sore ankle)
MIA – Shaquille O’Neal (left hip, quadriceps inflammation)
MIA – Alonzo Mourning (torn tendon in right knee)
MIA – Joel Anthony (strained right quad)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Play Tough Inside
- Own the Boards
- Ball Movement (don’t force things)
- Perimeter Defense
- Play 48 Minutes