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James Posey and the Hornets Roll into Boston

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New Orleans Hornets (12-6) at Boston Celtics (21-2)
Friday, December 12
8:00 PM ET
Game #24, Home Game #14
TV: ESPN, CSN HD
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

Hornets Blogs At The Hive l Hornets Hype l Hornets 24/7

The Celtics have won 13 in a row and have set a franchise record for victories to start a season. Is there anyone who can stop them? James Posey and the New Orleans Hornets hope they will be able to halt the Celtics win streak tonight.

Much has been said about the Celtics' loss of James Posey over the summer. In the preview magazines, several used that fact to pick New Orleans to win it all and the Celtics to drop to 4th behind the Hornets, Lakers, and Cavs. So far, the Celtics have proved that they still have what it takes to win, even without James Posey, and the Hornets' 12-6 record has been somewhat disappointing to this point.

There are dangers to this game. The Celtics are riding a high after their big win in Washington. The Celtics' bench played very well in Washington and to date they have been somewhat inconsistent so it remains to be seen if they can play at a high level on a consistent basis. KG had a noticable limp at times in last night's game and we don't know how much that will affect his play in this game and he will be needed at a high level of play for this game. There will be a distraction with Posey being awarded his ring before the game. And possibly most of all, the fact that Posey knows this team so well and the Hornets will be very prepared for whatever the Celtics throw at them. This game is a gauge for both teams.

Probable Starting Matchups
PG: Rajon Rondo vs Chris Paul
SG: Ray Allen vs Rasual Butler
SF: Paul Pierce vs Peja Stojakovic
PF: Kevin Garnett vs David West
C: Kendrick Perkins vs Tyson Chandler

Injuries
Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett (leg) will play
New Orleans Hornets None

Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo 10.3 PPG 7.6 APG 4.9 RPG, 2.3 SPG
Chris Paul 20.6 PPG, 11.8 APG, 5.6 RPG, 2.8 SPG
This is one of the more exciting point guard matchups we will see this season. Chris Paul is considered by most as the best PG in the league and has been at the top of MVP talks. Rondo has gotten little respect as evidenced by the All Star voting so far and so the matchup with Chris Paul will be a big test for Rondo.

vs
Kevin Garnett 16.4 PPG 9.4 RPG 1.4 BPG
David West 19.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.1 APG
With KG limping from time to time last night against the Wizards, we have to wonder how effective he will be against David West, one of the more exciting and young power forwards in the league who mostly flies under the radar. This will be a key matchup as West averaged 25.5 points against the Celtics last season, even with a healthy KG.




Honorable Mention
vs
Tony Allen 9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 20 MPG
James Posey 8.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 27.6 MPG
The Celtics hope that Tony Allen can help to fill the void left in James Posey's absence. He won't be able to hit the big 3 consistenly like Posey does but Eddie House has been filling that role. Tony's defense and leadership are considered crucial for the bench to be a success this season and going against James Posey will be a big test of that leadership and defense.


Team Connections
Hilton Armstrong and Ray Allen are former UConn Huskies
Julian Wright and Paul Pierce are former Kansas Jayhawks
Sean Marks and Leon Powe are former Cal Golden Bears
Hornets asst. Paul Pressey was an asst. for the Celtics from '04-'06
Scal was coached by Byron Scott in New Jersey
Melvin Ely and Eddie House were teammates on the Clippers
Peja Stojakovic and Eddie House were teammates in Sacramento
James Posey was instrumental in helping the Celtics win the championship last season.

Key Facts:

The Hornets are 9-0 when scoring 100 points or more
The Hornets are 9-0 when shooting 22 or more free throws
The Hornets are 11-1 when leading after 3 quarters

The Hornets Big Three of Chris Paul, Peja Stojakovic and David West are averaging 59.3 of the Hornets' 98.7 points per game. They are shooting 52.9% from the field and 51.3% from beyond the arc.

These two teams split the series 1-1 last season.

James Posey will receive his championship win in a ceremony before the game.

Keys to the Game
Defense The Celtics have to guard both the perimeter and the interior. The Hornets have good 3 point shooters as well as players who can take the ball to the basket, not to mention the alley oop passes from Paul to Chandler. The Celtics have to defend both the paint and the perimeter and can't forget one or the other. The Hornets can be a dangerous team if you let them get going.

Focus The Celtics need to keep their focus and not be distracted by the hoopla surrounding Posey's return. They have to take care of the ball and play team ball. Rondo has to focus on the task at hand of stopping Chris Paul and not get lost in the hype of the matchup. Tony can tend to lose focus at times, and he has to keep his focus on the task at hand as well. As a team, the Celtics must keep their defensive focus and not just try to outshoot the Hornets because the Hornets will be playing some good defense themselves.

Pedal to the Metal The Celtics have to come out strong and not let up until the end of the game. They can't let a team like the Hornets get a big lead and they also can't let them hang around and keep it close. The Celtics have to play all out the entire 48 minutes.

Bench Play The Celtics bench has to keep up the level of play when they come into the game. They had a very good game vs the Wizards and can't have a let down in this one. They have to be more consistent from game to game.

X-Factor
Home Court and Focus
The Celtics will be playing on their home court and hopefully that will work to their advantage in this one. They have to keep their focus and not lose that defensive intensity that has been their calling card. They also have to keep their team focus and not have any one player try to do too much because of the individual matchups.