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Celtics Looking to Avenge Loss as Hornets Visit the Garden

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New Orleans Hornets (49-21)at Boston Celtics (56-15)
Friday, March 28
7:30 PM ET
Game #72. Road Game #37
TV:  NBA -TV , CST, CSN HD
Radio:  WEEI, Sirius 125
TD Banknorth Garden

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Hornets Blogs:   @ the Hive   l   Hornets 24/7       

The Hornets are now the only team that the Celtics haven't beat at least once this season.  These two teams met just 6 days ago and in that game, the Hornets outscored the Celtics 32-17 in the forth quarter to win the game 113-106.  The Celtics defense slacked off and they allowed the Hornets to shoot 51% in that game and they gave the game away by  turning the ball over 20 times.  They beat themselves more than anything.

The Hornets are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won 5 in a row, including a 1 point victory over the Cavs on Wednesday night.  The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 and are coming off a big victory over the Phoenix Suns, the only other team that they hadn't beaten before.   The Hornets are the top seed in the West but are just a game ahead of both the Lakers and Rockets. The Celtics are the top seed in the East with a comfortable 6 game lead over the Pistons. 

The Hornets have a lot of motivation in that they are still battling for top seed and they also would love to have bragging rights as the only team to sweep the Celtics this season.  The Celtics should be equally motivated in that they don't want to allow a team to sweep them.  Hopefully Doc won't do a lot of experimenting in this game since it is one the Celtics need to win.  .  Since they may very well see this team in the finals, the Celtics need to make a statement in this game as they did in the Suns game so as not to give the Hornets a mental edge against them should they meet for the title.  

More After the Jump

Probable Starting Matchups 

PG:   Rajon Rondo vs Chris Paul
SG:   Ray Allen vs Morris Peterson
SF:   Paul Pierce vs Peja Stojakovic
PF:   Kevin Garnett vs David West
C:     Kendrick Perkins vs  Tyson Chandler

Key Matchups
  Vs 
Rajon Rondo vs Chris Paul
Rondo has yet again another challenge facing him in this game.  He just proved that he was equal to guarding a two time MVP and now is going up against this year's possible MVP.    Rondo outplayed Paul in New Orleans and if he isn't bothered by the sore hamstring, he should do the same in this game. 

  Vs 
Kevin Garnett vs David West
Containing David West is going to be a big key to this game.   He scored 37 points in the first game against the Celtics and he hit the game winner against the Cavs in the Hornets' last game.  KG is going to have to play him like he did Amare and make him work hard on both ends of the court. They call West the 17 foot assassin and he certainly lived up to it against the Celtics in the first game.  KG will have his work cut out for him as he tries to shut him down in this game.  

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Tyson Chandler

Perk handled Shaq pretty well and we will need another big game from him to stop Chandler and to guard against the alley oop passes that we know are coming. 


Keys to the Game
Play 48 Minutes   Against both the Hornets and the Sixers, the Celtics lost a big lead and pretty much gave the games away in the 4th.  They need to play 48 minutes and not let up, even if they have a lead.  Good teams like the Hornets will take any let-up and run with it. 

Defense  The Hornets can hurt you both inside and out.  Peja is dangerous from beyond the arc.  Chandler can hurt you in the paint.  West is the 17 foot assassin.  Chris Paul can hit the outside shot as well as take it to the hoop or he will find the open man.  Jannero Pargo and Bonzi Wells are also dangerous and can't be left open.    The Celtics need to stick with the tough defense that got them here. 


Be Aggressive The Celtics need to be aggressive and come out strong to start the game.  They need to be aggressive in taking the ball to the hoop and not settling for jumpers.  They have to be aggressive on the boards and not allow the Hornets to get second chance baskets.  They need to be aggressive in going after looe balls and they need to be aggressive on the defensive end.  

X-Factor

Focus  The Celtics beat themselves when they played the Hornets last time.  They slacked off on defense and turned the ball over way too much.   The Celtics will need to stay focused on defense and  on taking care of the ball.