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Celtics Set to Take on Revamped Division Rival


Boston Celtics (3-1) at New Jersey Nets (2-0)
Preseason Game #5 – Road Game #3
IZOD Center
East Rutherford, NJ
Thursday, October 16, 2008
7:30 PM ET
Radio:  WEEI
Game Thread     l     Chat  

The Celtics take on the completely revamped New Jersey Nets tonight at the Izod Center. The Nets have changed as much as any team over the past season. They broke up their starting lineup and Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson are gone and only Vince Carter remains as a cornerstone of this franchise. They have gone into full rebuilding mode and are hoping to hit the jackpot with one of the big free agents in the 2009-10 off season. Because of this, they aren't expected to win a lot of games this season.

However, they are a surprising 2-0 so far in this preseason. The Nets swept their 2 game series with the Heat during NBA Europe Live. They played in Paris and then in London. Just as with the Celtics' wins, the games have been close with each of the Nets wins coming by just 2 points.
It is hard to tell what starting lineup the Nets will use because in two preseason games they have used two different starting lineups. The only positions that seem set are the guard spots and everything else is up for grabs. They started Ryan Anderson, Bobby Simmons and Sean Williams in their first game and Yi Jianlian, Trenton Hassell, and Brook Lopez in their second game. With so many new players, expect to see a lot of experimentation with their lineups.
The Celtics starters are set, but there is no telling who the Nets will start other than Vince Carter and Devin Harris. Even the game notes on their website have "to be determined" for the other 3 positions in their preview.

It is always a good thing to try to beat division rivals, even when the games don't really count. It gives a certain psychological edge to the winners going into the season. Just as we have seen with the Celtics' first 4 preseason games, every team will have it out for the Celtics this season and I expect New Jersey to be no different. Expect the game to be physical and for the Nets to give the Celtics their best shot. The Celtics have a target on their backs and tonight the Nets will be aiming for it. 

  More After the Jump

Probable Starting Matchups
PG   Rajon Rondo vs Devin Harris
SG   Ray Allen vs  Vince Carter
SF   Paul Pierce vs Trenton Hassell
PF   Kevin Garnett vs Yi Jianlian
C     Kendrick Perkins vs Brook Lopez  
Players to Watch    
[image]  [image] [image]  Gabe Pruitt Darius Miles
Tony Allen  The team is counting on Tony to pick up a lot of the slack left by James Posey's departure.  He has been somewhat inconsistent so far with a very good game and then one not so good.  The Celtics need him to be consistent so that they know what they will get from him when he comes into the game.
Patrick O'Bryant  O'Byrant looked very good in his starting role but seemed to struggle coming off the bench.  He will need to find his role with the second unit to be effective on this team.
Bill Walker   Bill Williams sat out the last game with soreness in his knee, but was impressive in the first 3 games.  He is definitely fun to watch and if he plays, it will be interesting to see if he continues his aggressive play. 
Gabe Pruitt - Gabe has been showing some good things so far in the preseason.  If he continues to improve and shows he can contribute to the team, they may decide that they don't need Sam after all
Darius Miles   Darius is still on the bubble and needs to show that he can play and that he will fit on this team.  He has shown some good things, but also still looks very rusty. 

Vince Carter Brook Lopez Jianlian Yi Chris Douglas-Roberts
Vince Carter  Vince Carter is still their best player and will have to get used to playing with an entire new cast this season.  It will be interesting to see how long he can be patient with the rebuilding project. 
Brook Lopez Lopez got the start in the Nets' last game and had 8 points and 13 rebounds.  He is a rookie though and is bound to be somewhat inconsistent. 
Yi Jianlian The Nets have two 7 footers up front and this could be a formidable front line if they can develop chemistry and develop an NBA game.  Yi had 19 points and 4 rebounds in his last start.  Celtics can look at Yi and think of what might have been as he came close to being the Celtics' draft pick. 
Chris Douglas Roberts   The Nets other rookie has looked rather impressive so far, scoring 18 points in his last outing for the Nets.  

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