7:30 PM ET
TD BankNorth Garden
Just three days ago, Doc Rivers decided to throw his "B team" into the fire in Milwaukee. He sat all of his starters throughout the entire fourth quarter, and the second unit blew the lead to allow Milwaukee to force overtime. In the extra period, Rivers stuck to his guns and made his bench win the game on their own. Luckily, they came away with a three-point victory. The next day, Doc decided to play his big guns 30+ minutes to try and send a message to Washington. That backfired, and the Celtics were crushed by 14 on national TV.
Tonight, I’d expect a similar plan to Tuesday’s Milwaukee visit, where the starters play half of the game or less and the bench players get a lot of burn. One reason to expect that is the simple fact that the C’s shouldn’t have to bring this game down to the wire and/or send a message; the other reason is that they also play in Atlanta tomorrow night, where we’ll get an early preview of Boston’s likely first round matchup. If the C’s play their cards right, the game should be well in hand when "rest time" comes. Let’s hope the aforementioned "B team" doesn’t blow it in the waning minutes, once again.
C Andrew Bogut / Kendrick Perkins
PF Charlie Villanueva / Kevin Garnett
SF Desmond Mason / Paul Pierce
SG Michael Redd / Ray Allen
PG Ramon Sessions / Rajon Rondo
Key Matchup: Charlie Villanueva vs. Kevin Garnett
Charlie Villanueva got off to an extremely rough start this season, averaging under 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Since the break, he has completely turned his year around. In the month of April, the former lottery pick has held averages of 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest on 45.5% shooting from beyond the arc. Villanueva’s roughest game of the month, however, came three days ago against the Celtics, where he shot 1-6 from the floor and only played 15 minutes of basketball. The next night, he managed to come back with a 38-point, 12-rebound effort against his old club in Toronto. He’ll be up for quite a challenge tonight, as Kevin Garnett will not give him anything easy regardless of how many minutes he plays.
Celtics X-Factor: Tony Allen
Once again, Tony Allen is the one guy on this roster that absolutely must have a high level of confidence going into the postseason. Overall, he has had a good week. This past Saturday, he scored 12 points and was a huge factor in holding Jason Richardson to just nine. On Tuesday in Milwaukee, TA was extremely efficient offensively and was really the only Celtic that stood out throughout the game. His 17 points gave the C’s a big lift, as he scored off penetration and perimeter shooting. Wednesday, however, was nothing to write home about. He played limited minutes (12) due to the circumstances of trying to beat Washington, which failed. It is unlikely that Ray Allen will play 36 minutes again, like he did on Wednesday, so look to see a lot of TA. Let’s hope he makes the best of it and boosts that confidence even more. Let’s also hope he doesn’t fly over Michael Redd before he even shoots the ball.
MIL – Mo Williams (abdominal strain - doubtful)
MIL – Yi Jianlian (sprained left knee - out)
MIL – Charlie Bell (sprained right knee - out)
MIL – Jake Voskuhl (sprained left ankle – doubtful)
BOS – Sam Cassell (sore back – day-to-day)
BOS – Scot Pollard (torn tendon in left ankle – out for season)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Contain Redd
- Ball Control
- Attack, Don’t Settle