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Sam I Am and Clippers Come to Town

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Los Angeles Clippers (15-30) at Boston Celtics (36-9)
Wednesday February 6
Game #46,  Home Game #25
TV:  NBA LP ch 754, CSN HD, KTLA
Sirius 140, WEEI
TD Banknorth Garden
 
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Clippers Coverage:     Clips Nation    l    ClipperBlog    

Sam Cassell comes to town amid rumors swirling everywhere about a possible buyout and move to Boston.   While Danny has maintained that he isn't interested in bringing in another player who could disturb the chemistry,  the fact remains that the Celtics need a back up point guard, especially for the playoffs.  Expect a big game from Sam I Am as he looks to impress the Celtics brass enough to bring him to Boston. 
The Clippers swept the season series with the Celtics last year and in their second matchup on February 2, Rajon Rondo got his first career start.  Doc played for the Clippers in the 1991-92 season.   Dan Dickau, who played 19 games for the Celtics in the '05-06 season before tearing his Achilles, is coming off the bench for the Clippers. 

The Clippers are 6-15 on the road and are 4-6 in their last 10 games.  They  lost 2 in a row that they played without Kaman or Maggette who were out with the flu.  Both were back for the game against the Knicks, which the Clippers won 103-94.  They came off the bench in that game, but expect them to be back in the starting lineup for this game.  Paul Pierce is having his own battle with the flu although he played 35 minutes against the Cavs. 

Long time Clippers announcer, Ralph Lawler, has put out his Lawler's Law that says that the first team to 100 points wins.  Lawler's Law has a 25-0 record for the season.  This is yet another reason for the Celtics to play tough defense.   The Celtics played no defense against the Cavs and will need to find their defensive intensity again for this game. 
 
Probable Starting Matchups
PG:  Rajon Rondo vs Sam Cassell
SG:  Ray Allen vs Cuttino Mobley
SF:  Paul Pierce vs Corey Maggette
PF:  Brian Scalabrine vs Tim Thomas
C:   Kendrick Perkins vs Chris Kaman 
Injury Report

Kevin Garnett, abdominal strain, day to day
Scot Pollard, ankle, day to day
Paul Pierce, flu, probable


Elton Brand, Achilles, out
Shawn Livingston, knee, out
Paul Davis, ACL, out
Key Matchups
Vs
Rajon Rondo 6'1"  PPG 9.7 | APG 4.6 | SPG 1.8
Sam Cassell   6'3"  PPG 13.2 | APG 4.5 | SPG 0.7
I am sure that both Rondo and Cassell have heard the rumors of the Celtics wanting to add Cassell to the team.  This should be an interesting matchup with the young up and coming PG vs the wise veteran PG.  Rondo should be able to use his quickness to get past Cassell but also needs to keep his focus as Cassell is a very smart player and has a 2" height advantage over Rondo.  Before the end of the season, these two may be going at each other in practice. 

Vs
Paul Pierce  6'6"  PPG 20.3 | RPG 5.7 | APG 4.9   
Corey Maggette   6'6"  PPG 20.9 | RPG 5.9 | APG 2.7
Interesting that Hollinger gives Pierce as the player most like Maggette.    They have similar stat lines and similar games and if both have a good game, this could be a very good matchup.  I expect to see both driving to the basket and drawing fouls as well as hitting open shots.  Pierce is the better defender of the two and may be able to keep Maggette at bay.  Pierce played through the Cavs game with the flu and will probably play in this one, but may be a step slow as he was against the Cavs.  

Honorable Mention:
Perk vs Kaman
Chris Kaman is having a very good season being 3rd in the league in rebounds at 13.9 and blocks at 3.0.   Kaman has 29 double doubles and among centers, only Dwight Howard has more.  Perk needs to have a strong game defensively and keep Kaman off the boards. 
Keys to the Game
Defense
  The Celtics need to defend both inside and on the perimeter.  They need to keep Kaman off the boards and limit drives from Cassell and Maggette.  The Celtics played little or no defense against the Cavs and need to find their defensive intensity once again.  They won't many games in which they don't play defense.  It is obvious that they are missing KG's defensive intensity. 

Rondo's Speed The Celtics can use Rondo's speed to their advantage and push the ball up the court on every opportunity.  Rondo also has to remain aggressive driving to the hoop without going out of control as he did several times against the Cavs.  

Team Play With KG still out the Celtics need to play team ball and team defense.  They need to pass the ball and find the open man.  They need to help on defense and play aggressively on both ends of the floor. 
Rebounding   The Celtics were out rebounded 39-29 against the Cavs.  Many of those rebounds led to second chance points.  The Celtics need to put out a much better effort on the boards in this game. 

X-Factors
Fatigue - The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games and so fatigue may be a problem especially if Ray Allen has played big minutes the night before.  Doc needs to monitor the minutes on his club both nights to prevent the Celtics from running out of steam in this game.
Pierce's Health  - Paul Pierce is suffering from the flu and was seen on the bench last night with a towel on his head and a garbage can in front of him.  If he is unable to play or is limited tonight, it could make a big difference with KG already out.