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Short Handed Spurs Visit Short Handed Celtics

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San Antonio Spurs (32-16) at Boston Celtics (38-9)
Sunday, February 10
1:00 PM ET
Game #48, Home Game #26
TV:  ABC
Sirius 125
TD Banknorth Garden
  
 
Chat Game Thread     

Spurs Coverage    Spur of the Moment    l  Pounding the Rock     

The World Champion Spurs come into the Garden to face a depleted Celtics team.  In what would have been a big test for both teams has now become a test of which team can survive without their stars.    With KG, Perk and Pollard all doubtful,  the Celtics will be undersized as they face a big Spurs team.  The Spurs are playing without Tony Parker and Brent Barry and that puts a chink in their game as well.    In  spite of having only the 5th best record in the Western Conference, they are still a very dangerous team and have to be considered the team to beat.  Tony Parker didn't make the trip but the recently signed Damon Stoudamire will be manning the point for them and we can expect him to try to show the Celtics what they missed out on by not signing him.   
 
The Spurs bench is the second best in the NBA, scoring 37.5 points per game.  The Celtics bench will need to step up to keep pace with the Spurs bench.  With Perk's shoulder strain and KG's ab strain, it thins the bench out because two players from the second unit will have to start if neither can go.  Both are listed as day to day.  KG is not expected to play, but no word on Perk as yet.  
 
Last season, the Celtics got their first win against the Spurs since they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997.  It was Duncan's first loss to the Celtics and Pierce's first win against the Spurs. If last year's Celts could beat the Spurs at full strength, anything is possible but the key is going to be if one of the Celtics remaing bigs can step up and defend against Duncan.   This is the 7th game on the Spurs current 9 game road trip. They are 4 and 2 on the trip so far and have won their last 4 games including an overtime win in New York in their last game.   The Spurs are 12-11 on the road and are 13-3 against the Eastern Conference.  The Celtics are 15-0 against the West.  Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games. 
 

 

Probable Starters
PG:  Rajon Rondo vs Damon Stoudamire
SG:   Ray Allen vs  Manu Ginobili
SF:   Paul Pierce vs Bruce Bowen
PF:   Brian Scalabrine vs Tim Duncan
C:    Leon Powe vs Fabricio Oberto *
 
*No word has come out as to whether Perk can play or not.  I think that Powe has earned the start but Big Baby may also start here to bring Leon in to match up with Duncan.   
 
Injury Report
  
Kevin Garnett, ab strain,  day to day
Scot Pollard, ankle, day to day
Kendrick Perkins, shoulder, day to day
Tony Parker, ankle, out
Brent Barry, calf, out
 

Key Matchups: 
Vs
Rajon Rondo vs Damon Stoudamire
Damon Stoudamire is now the starting PG for the Spurs with Tony Parker out.  Expect him to try to show the Celtics what they missed out on.   Rondo has been on a roll lately and expect him to continue his aggressive play on both ends of the court.

  Vs 
Ray Allen vs Manu Ginobili
Ginobili is one of San Antonio's key scorers. Ray Allen is going to have to get it going on both ends of the court if the Celtics have any hopes of winning this.  He his going to have to limit Ginobili's scoring while making him work on defense as well.  This would be a good time for Ray to snap out of his shooting slump.

Honorable Mention
Scal vs Tim Duncan.  This could be a very tough matchup for the Celtics. In fact, it is enough to give Celtics fans nightmares.    If Perk and KG don't play, Powe could have the best chance of covering him with his long arms.  It would be good to see Baby and Powe playing together again. 

Keys to the Game
Hustle and Effort  The Celtics are short handed and undersized.  The only way they can win this is with hustle and effort.  They are going to have to hustle for every loose ball and rebound and harrass the Spurs on every possession.  There shouldn't be any lack of motivation so hopefully the effort will be there. 

Composure The Spurs are a tough defensive team and in the past the Celtics have struggled against teams that have played them tough defensively.  They need to keep their composure and not allow the defensive pressure to rattle them. 

Move the Ball Against the Wolves, there was too much dribbling and too many ISO's.  They weren't moving the ball like they usually do and because of that they struggled.  Against the Spurs defense, they will have to move the ball to find the open man, or they will be in big trouble. They also need to run and get up the court quickly and try to take advantage of their speed. 

Defense The Celtics will need to match the Spurs defensive intensity.  They have to play tough defense and crash the boards.  If they give the Spurs in inch they will take a mile.  The Spurs rank 6th in 3 point field goal percentage and so the Celtics need to guard the perimeter as well as the inside, where Tim Duncan is a force.