Tuesday, February 12
7:00 PM ET
TV: CSN, The Score
Since Kevin Garnett strained an abdominal muscle on January 25, many basketball fans across the nation have anticipated the first real road block to the Celtics’ season. Without the seven-foot defensive anchor and emotional leader, there is no way the Celtics can keep this up, right? Wrong. In Garnett’s absence, the Celtics have won five of seven games and have taken down two Western Conference powerhouses, Dallas and San Antonio, in order to maintain their undefeated record against the illustrious conference (16-0).
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Boston’s recent play isn’t Paul Pierce, although he absolutely went off for 35 points on Sunday, and it isn’t Ray Allen. It’s the play of the role players night in and night out. Every night, one or two different guys have stepped up and given the C’s a big lift. Rajon Rondo, in particular, has been the most impressive. In this seven-game stint without "The Big Ticket," the second-year guard has held averages of 16.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per contest while shooting over 52% from the field. In addition, he has been much better on the defensive end in pick and roll situations ever since he had major problems defending Sebastian Telfair on the night KG got hurt. Rondo is flourishing right before our eyes, and New England fans couldn’t be happier at the fact that we’ve finally found our point guard. The best part about it? In 10 days, he’s turning just 22 years old.
The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, have not had as peachy a story as the C’s lately. They’ve won just six of their last 20 games and have experienced a plethora of concerning injuries to key players, such as Jermaine O’Neal (as usual) and Jamaal Tinsley (once again, as usual). They currently stand at 21-30, which is the tenth-worst record in the NBA. Ironically, they are still just one game behind New Jersey (22-29) for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. That, along with the fact that there are only four worse teams than them out west, tells you all you need to know about the depth of the Eastern Conference. It’s downright awful.
C Leon Powe / Jeff Foster
PF Brian Scalabrine / Troy Murphy
SF Paul Pierce / Danny Granger
SG Ray Allen / Kareem Rush
PG Rajon Rondo / Travis Diener
Key Matchup: Paul Pierce vs. Danny Granger
Indiana has recently gone through a rough stretch, but Danny Granger has been a huge bright spot for the organization and Indiana faithful. The third-year forward is quietly and almost unnoticeably having a breakout year, as he has held averages of roughly 18 points and six rebounds per game and has established himself as much more of an outside threat. In addition, he’s a terrific defensive player for a third-year guy, and has the anticipation skills and length to disrupt Paul Pierce. Granted, Pierce went off for 31 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in their first meeting at Conseco Fieldhouse this season, but Granger is not to be slept on.
Celtics X-Factor: Role Players
As mentioned earlier, one or two different role players have largely stepped up in each meeting since Garnett went down. That needs to continue to happen, even against a relatively depleted Indiana Pacers team. Will it be Leon Powe? "Big Baby?" James Posey? Tony Allen? Eddie House? Heck, maybe "Air Intangibles" will have a big game. Whoever it may be, the role players need to continue stepping their games up.
BOS – Kevin Garnett (strained abdomen – out)
BOS – Kendrick Perkins (strained left shoulder – day-to-day)
BOS – Scot Pollard (score left ankle – day-to-day)
IND – Jermaine O’Neal (bruised left knee - out)
IND – Jamaal Tinsley (sore left knee – doubtful)
IND – Mike Dunleavy Jr. (bruised right knee – day-to-day)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Close Out On Shooters
- Role Players: Continue to Step Up
- "Take It To ‘Em" Inside
- Don’t Take Them Lightly