Tuesday, February 5
7:00 PM ET
Quicken Loans Arena
Kevin Garnett has missed three straight games since straining an abdominal muscle against his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, on January 25. The Celtics fell short in Orlando in their first game without Garnett, but managed to rack up back-to-back victories following the heartbreaker against the Magic. Two days after that loss, they blew out the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena without Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen (flu) in uniform. Shortly after, in Allen’s return to the lineup, the men in green did what everybody was waiting for them to do – take out a Western Conference powerhouse. They did just that, beating the Dallas Mavericks 96-90, and they got the job done without their best player – Kevin Garnett – in uniform. If that doesn’t open your eyes and tell you that this team is for real, I don’t know what to tell you.
These Cleveland Cavaliers are no slouch, either. Winners in eight of their last 10 games, they are currently the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. There are many small reasons why, but the biggest reason is very obvious – LeBron James. In those last 10 games, James held averages of 33.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. Within that time, he also completely took over the fourth quarter in Portland on January 30. James got irritated with a fan sitting courtside, who was in the NBA All-Star’s ear all night long. By the time the fourth quarter hit, "King James" had finally had enough. He exploded for 17 fourth-quarter points, including three three-pointers and the game winning power-drive that gave Cleveland the 84-83 victory. Let’s face it, LeBron James is downright scary.
The shorthanded Celtics will have their work cut out for them tonight. Let’s hope they can get payback on LeBron and spark up another winning streak.
C Kendrick Perkins / Zydrunas Ilgauskas
PF Brian Scalabrine / Drew Gooden
SF Paul Pierce / LeBron James
SG Ray Allen / Ira Newble
PG Rajon Rondo / Larry Hughes
Key Matchup: Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James
There really is no explanation needed. These two are arguably the top two small forwards in the game, and both are among the top natural scorers in the NBA. They’ve had their duels in the past, and while we don’t want tonight’s game to turn into a 1-on-1 matchup between James and Pierce, it sure will be fun to watch these two go at it.
Celtics X-Factor: Energy
The C’s have to out-hustle Cleveland tonight. They are on a roll and the Celtics are shorthanded up front, meaning that "Big Z" could cause a lot of problems. As long as they outwork the Cavs, however, they should be OK. Let’s go Celtics, show some heart.
BOS – Kevin Garnett (strained abdomen – out)
BOS – Scot Pollard (score left ankle – doubtful)
CLE – Sasha Pavlovic (sprained left foot - out)
CLE – Anderson Varejao (sprained left ankle - out)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Don’t Let LeBron Dominate
- Win the Rebounding Column
- Consistent Ball Movement (48 minutes)
- Limit Turnovers