Monday, February 25
10:30 PM ET
The bleeding has stopped. After four and a half days of agony, Boston broke a three-game losing streak last night with a 10-point victory in Portland and will close out the west coast swing tonight against the Clippers. In addition to the obvious absences to Elton Brand, Shaun Livingston, and Paul Davis, the Clips may be without Chris Kaman (sore lower back) and Sam Cassell (sprained right wrist) as well. Both sat out Saturday night’s loss against the Lakers and are listed as gametime decisions for tonight’s matchup with the C’s.
Speaking of Sam Cassell, will Donald Sterling just buy him out already? The 38-year-old veteran point guard has been the subject of many buyout and trade rumors over the past few weeks, but it seems as though the Clippers couldn’t get any reasonable trade offers, as they made it through Thursday’s trade deadline without making a move. Ever since, the buyout rumors have started to heat up again, with Boston continuing to be named his number one destination if a situation like that occurs. The catch is that he must be bought out by March 1 to be considered playoff eligible.
If Cassell does not make his way to the waiver wire, the Celtics may have a backup plan in place. Marc Spears of the Boston Globe has reported that the C’s have expressed interest in recently waived guards Brent Barry and Flip Murray, as well as center Jamaal Magloire. The next six days will be very interesting to see if the Celtics will be able to fill one of two holes on their bench – a backup point guard and another center.
In the meantime, let’s focus on winning tonight’s game and getting back on track before heading home for a five-game home-stand.
C Kendrick Perkins / Aaron Williams (?)
PF Kevin Garnett / Tim Thomas
SF Paul Pierce / Corey Maggette
SG Ray Allen / Cuttino Mobley
PG Rajon Rondo / Brevin Knight (?)
Key Matchup: Paul Pierce vs. Corey Maggette
Since we aren’t completely sure who will or will not be in the starting lineup for Los Angeles tonight, the safest pick here is Paul Pierce vs. Corey Maggette. Both are two of the strongest three’s in the league, who are very tough to contain off penetration with their mixture of size, skill, and strength. Maggette may even be one of the more underrated offensive players in the league, and is currently putting up 22 points per game. He won’t get those buckets easily tonight, however, and he’ll have to work extra hard on the defensive end as well.
Another fun fact about these two: trade rumors have circulated around the two of them over the past few years, as Pierce was involved in multiple rumors that suggested that he would be heading to the Clippers for a package involving Corey Maggette.
Celtics X-Factor: Energy
It’s the last game of the seven-day trip, and it’s only natural for a team to wear down a bit without proper amounts of rest. They need to put their fatigue behind them and gut out this last game. From Kevin Garnett down to Scot Pollard, the C’s need to play hard and out-hustle the shorthanded Clippers. On Wednesday, the C’s begin a five-game home-stand. It’d be nice to see the C’s get back on the winning track before that begins.
BOS – Brian Scalabrine (strained groin – out)
LAC – Elton Brand (recovering from ruptured left Achilles – out)
LAC – Chris Kaman (sore lower back – gametime decision)
LAC – Sam Cassell (sprained right wrist – gametime decision)
LAC – Shaun Livingston (recovering from knee surgery – out)
LAC – Paul Davis (sprained right knee – out)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Attack the Rim & Make Free Throws
- Ball Movement
- Own the Boards