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Celtics @ Hornets Preview with At The Hive

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As part of this preview I had the good fortune of getting some insight from the New Orleans Hornets blog At The Hive. You can also check out how I answered their questions here. Enjoy.

Boston Celtics
Record: 55-13
Last Ten Games: 9-1
Points scored per game: 100.4
Points allowed per game: 90.0   
Pace Factor: 91.0 (17th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 110.0 (10th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 98.6 (1st of 30)

New Orleans Hornets
Record: 46-21
Last Ten Games: 7-3
Points scored per game: 100.1
Points allowed per game: 94.8
Pace Factor: 89.6 (27th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 110.8 (7th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 104.9 (6th of 30)

Hat tip to basketball-reference.com for info on the Celtics and the Hornets.

Rajon Rondo vs. Chris Paul
Ray Allen vs. Morris Peterson
Paul Pierce vs. Peja Stojakovic
Kevin Garnett vs. David West
Kendrick Perkins vs. Tyson Chandler

Schedule Notes
After following the Celtics lead and running all over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday the Hornets have been off for two days. Meanwhile, the Celtics were off on Wednesday, beat Dallas on Thursday and took Friday off. I'd give New Orleans the edge because they are home and the Celtics are at the tail end of a 5 game road trip.

Last Time They Met
New Orleans won 106-88. Of course the year was 2007.

Come Get Some
Do yourself a favor and check out Tyson Chandler's photo on NBA.com. Doesn't it look like he's saying come get some? Random aside: In Paul Shirley's strangely depressing Can I Keep My Jersey? the basketball vagabond does not fondly recall his brief time with Chandler in Chicago. In fact he talks about Chandler ordering him around despite only a few years of NBA service at the time. But then you wake up one day and Chandler is in his 7th NBA season. Which brings me to a question I had for the guys from At The Hive.

Green Bandwagon: How good are Chandler and David West. I respect their games but always feel they are incredibly fortunate to play with Chris Paul? Is he inflating their value the same way Jason Kidd did with Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson and company on the Nets teams that made the Finals?

At The Hive: I agree with that sentiment as far as Chandler's offensive game goes. The guy hasn't developed any sort of post game in his 7 years in the League, and without CP throwing him lobs, there's absolutely no way he averages double figures. However, his rebounding dominance is for real; the guy leads the NBA in offensive boards and he'd still be up on the leader board without Chris Paul.

David West is a different story. Obviously, he gets a few easy shots every night simply because that's what happens when you play with CP. The reason West is so important to our offense is because he's our best "Chris Paul is not involved in this play" scoring option. He's got a tremendous back to the basket game, a great jab and drive move, a quick first step, and an accurate turn-around fall away jumper- all things that would well from team to team, regardless of point guard. So to answer your question, Tyson is not a 12 PPG kind of player, but David West is a 19-9 guy anywhere else (eh, maybe not in New York).

David West
Even though he made and All Star Game this season and as the above response explained, his game is legit, West is a somewhat anonymous guy for a NBA player. And from what I've seen of him in interviews, he is okay with that. Meanwhile, I liked him at Xavier and for whatever reason have followed his NBA career, culminating in his arrival on my fantasy basketball team this season. However, having said all that, can he hang with KG? That's a tough match up because West is only 6-9. In fact I wonder if the Hornets will throw Chandler at Garnett.

Once and For All - Deron Williams or Chris Paul?
You see what I did there? I made a rhyme. Yeah I'm pretty proud of it. But back to the issue at hand. I'm a big fan of Williams' game, except for when he drops 32 points on Boston - see Celtics last loss. And word on the street is that he handles Chris Paul whenever they play. Once again let's see what the enemy has to say about it.

Green Bandwagon: I think a law was passed that any blogger exchanging questions and answers with a Jazz or Hornets blogger must ask a variation of the following question: If you were GM of New Orleans for a day and Utah offered you Deron Williams for Chris Paul, would you accept the deal?

At The Hive: Statistically speaking, CP blows Williams away in terms of PER (28.8 to 20.9), Offensive Rating (125 to 117), Defensive Rating (103 to 110), Turnover Rate (7.9 to 11.7), Assist Rate (51.8 to 42.9), Steal Rate (3.9 to 1.5), FT% (86 to 79)... you get the picture. On top of all that, the two are neck and neck in the stat everyone had as a lock for Williams- shooting. Paul has an Effective FG% (eFG%) of 53 this year while Williams is at 54. Staying on the topic of shooting, I'd say Paul's slightly lower figure is more impressive because only 20% of his field goals are assisted, while 41% of Williams' are. That speaks to a lot more self-created shots and a higher degree of difficulty. Of course, the one thing still clearly in Williams' favor is the head-to-head matchup. Williams uses his size better against Paul than anyone I've seen (Baron and Chauncey included) and CP seems to be in permanent foul trouble against Utah. But I think the knowledge of how to guard Deron and where to be on the court is something that comes over time, and in a couple of years this defensive matchup shouldn't be that much of a problem.

One More Question for At The Hive:

Green Bandwagon: By now everyone knows Chris Paul is excellent. Yet every team seems to have a player that is only truly appreciated by the people who watch the team on a day-to-day basis? Fans and media from other parts of the country don't understand that player's value. Who is the most underrated player on the Hornets?

At The Hive: Obviously the last couple years, it would have been PF David West. However, he's been covered well by The World Wide Leader and others this year, and even the coaches recognized him with an All-Star selection. So, my new pick for most underrated player on the Hornets might be surprising since he's a well known player- Peja Stojakovic. Pretty much everyone forgot about him when he headed to Indy (myself included) and even more so when he came to New Orleans and sat out an entire year. Everyone knows he's a terrific shooter, but I don't think anyone outside of Hornets' fans realize what kind of year he's having right now. He's on pace to become the second player ever to hit 200 3's (or more) at a 45% (or better) clip. Reggie Miller never did it, Mitch Richmond never did it, Ray Allen hasn't done it...it's just an incredible (and incredibly non-media covered) feat. By the way, mad props if you can guess who the only guy ever to do it was.

That's Going to Bother Me
Who was the first player to hit 200 3's (or more) at a 45% (or better) clip? My guess is Dale Ellis, because he was awesome in NBA Live 95. Check that. He was lights out.

That's it for now. These teams play again next Friday so I'll save some information for then. In the meantime let's make sure to enjoy watching the Celtics.