Friday, February 29
7:30 PM ET
TD BankNorth Garden
All is well in Celtic land this week. The team has won three games in a row, has signed veteran big man PJ Brown for the remainder of the season, and is expected to sign guard Sam Cassell this coming Monday. It is now an understatement to suggest that this team is now "playoff-ready." With three superstars, leadership, an energetic group of young players, and added veterans to fill each hole off the bench, the possibilities are undeniable.
Oh, I’m sorry. There’s a game tonight, isn’t there? Maybe it’s time we put our Dr. Seuss books down and take our minds off Sam I Am for two and a half hours or so.
The 19-38 Charlotte Bobcats will pay their second and final visit to the TD BankNorth Garden tonight, with hopes to gain a 2-1 lead over the Celtics this season. On January 9, the last time the Celtics squared off against Charlotte, the ‘Cats shocked the green on their home floor with a 12-point victory to pay them back for Ray Allen’s game-winner from late-November. Jason Richardson went off, scoring 34 points on 14-22 shooting and simply had his way with Boston’s defense. Tonight, however, Richardson is unlikely to play with a right eye contusion that he picked up this past Wednesday in New York. In addition to Richardson and the preexisting season-ending injuries to Adam Morrison and Sean May, forward Gerald Wallace will also be out of action with a concussion.
Charlotte may be shorthanded, but they are one tough bunch to play against. They are one of the only bottom-feeding teams over the past couple of seasons that you can rarely blow out. It may be cliché to talk about an athlete, or group of athletes, and say "they give 110%," but the Charlotte Bobcats truly do. On paper, it looks as though Boston’s starters may only need to play three quarters, but that isn’t necessarily the truth.
Once again – the C’s have won three in a row, have inked PJ Brown, and are salivating at the mouth to add Sam Cassell to the roster in the coming days. Let’s cap off this wonderful week with a 4-0 record.
C Nazr Mohammed / Kendrick Perkins
PF Emeka Okafor / Kevin Garnett
SF Jared Dudley / Paul Pierce
SG Raymond Felton / Ray Allen
PG Jeff McInnis / Rajon Rondo
Key Matchup: Emeka Okafor vs. Kevin Garnett
Garnett traditionally has trouble with some of the bigger, wider bodies in the paint. He can hold his own against virtually anybody, but fatigue generally kicks in late in games if his man is bigger or heavier. He’ll get a long look at Emeka Okafor tonight, although Kendrick Perkins will as well. On the opposing end, Okafor is a terrific shot blocker, but does he have the speed and quickness to stick with Garnett? Will he step out to defend Garnett from mid-range? No, he doesn’t and won’t. KG has an opportunity to have another big game; let’s hope he continues to show steady progression.
Celtics X-Factor: Energy
Whether the Bobcats are healthy or not, you can always guarantee that they will give their all for the full 48 minutes. They may not have the overall experience to close out games, but they give maximum effort and will rarely ever hand the opposition an easy victory. The Celtics must take advantage of Charlotte’s missing pieces, match (and possible exceed) their energy level, and play the game remembering that they were defeated by the Bobcats on their home floor last month.
CHA – Gerald Wallace (concussion – out)
CHA – Jason Richardson (right eye contusion – doubtful)
CHA – Adam Morrison (recovering from knee surgery - out)
CHA – Sean May (recovering from knee surgery - out)
BOS – Brian Scalabrine (strained groin – day-to-day)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Match/Exceed Charlotte’s Energy Level
- Own the Boards
- Ball Movement
- Attack Their Perimeter "Defenders"