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Celtics Try to Avoid Holiday Hangover Against Clippers

And Rondo shall lead them.
And Rondo shall lead them.
Boston Celtics (23-5) at Los Angeles Clippers (12-17)
Sunday, December 27th, 9:30PM EST
TV: CSNNE, FSN Prime Ticket (LA) Radio: WEEI
Venue: Staples Center
Game 29, Road Game 15 (road trip game 2 of 4)

The Celtics can’t dwell too long on their warm and fuzzy after glow from a big win in Orlando on Christmas Day. They’ve still got more than their own fair share of problems. The Celtics captain and leading scorer, Paul Pierce, is still out with a knee issue. His backup and one of the Celtics biggest offseason acquisitions, Marquis Daniels, is out with a wrist injury. Rasheed Wallace is the (alleged) victim of a mass referee conspiracy to give him technical fouls. Kevin Garnett was pulled at the end of the win in Orlando because he hurt his head, and on top of that, he’s still playing injured (but not talking about it).

On the bright side they’re strolling into the self hating Staples Center with their third win streak of three games or more for the season. They’re getting increasingly (and surprisingly) good play from Tony Allen, who has the second best points per 48 mins rate on the team. Christmas Day also brought a surprise present in the first Glen (don’t call me big baby) Davis sighting of the season.

Plus there are the things we’ve known all season. Rajon Rondo is playing like an All-Star. Kendrick Perkins is playing like a top tier center. Kevin Garnett is still more intense than Mountain Dew. Basically the Celtics are one of the best teams in the NBA. No big whoop.

The Clippers on the other hand are not in such a jovial mood. A dark horse for the playoffs when the season began, they’re now in the midst of their third losing streak of the season of 3 or more games. Bill Simmons, who is suddenly psychic, believes that ‘the Dunleavy Saga’ is over, and Mike Dunleavy Sr. is on his way out as Clippers coach/GM. Blake Griffin still hasn’t returned to action, and at the end of the day, they’re still the Clippers, which is probably the most serious of their problems.

Either way, every win the Celtics can hammer home during Paul Pierce’s absence is a real godsend to the C’s. There is a saying, that the really good teams ‘always win the games they’re supposed to win’, and this definitely falls in that category for the Celtics.

Probable Starters

Boston Celtics

PG Rajon Rondo 34.8 12.3 4.2 9.6
SG Ray Allen 35.8 16 3.3 2.9
SF Tony Allen 15.9 7.9 3.1 1.0
PF Kevin Garnett 30.7 15.1 7.6 2.6
C Kendrick Perkins 27.6 12.1 7.8 1.1
6 Rasheed Wallace 21.2 9.5 4.3 0.9
7 Eddie House 16.4 7.0 1.3 0.8
8 Brian Scalabrine 8.9 1.4 0.6 0.4
9 Shelden Williams 13.3 4.2 3.6 0.6
10 Glen Davis 4 0 3 0

Injuries and stuff: Paul Pierce (OUT), Marquis Daniels (OUT), Kevin Garnett (QUESTIONABLE), Lester Hudson (D-League)

LA Clippers

PG Baron Davis 33.6 16.0 3.5 7.6
SG Eric Gordon 36.0 17.2 2.8 2.8
SF Rasual Butler 28.4 10.2 3.0 1.2
PF Marcus Camby 32.4 8.3 11.5 3.2
C Chris Kaman 36.6 19.8 9.0 1.9
6 Sebastian "Bassy" Telfair 15.5 4.9 1.1 2.7
7 Al Thorton 32.1 13.2 4.6 1.1
8 Craig Smith 14.0 5.6 2.9 1.1
9 Ricky Davis 11.4 3.5 1.5 0.9
10 Mardy Collins 8.3 1.9 1.0 0.5

Injuries and stuff: Blake Griffin (OUT), Kareem Rush (OUT), Marcus Camby (QUESTIONABLE)

Matchup of the night: Kevin Garnett V Marcus Camby

Neither guy here is a real pinnacle of health at the moment. Both Camby and Garnett have missed time recently, and assuming both play (which is questionable), they'll both be playing injured.

However, with Paul Pierce out, Garnett's role on the court both as a player and as a leader has expanded. While Rondo, Perkins, and the Allens will all need to step up a little individually, it's Garnett that is going to be the guy who will be looked to when the team needs to dig out an important play late in the game.

Typically Garnett has played well against Camby, posting career averages in H2H matchups of 21 pts and 11 rebounds. That's not the worst of it though for the Clippers. The worst scenario is if Camby doesn't play, because then the player guarding Garnett will either be drastically undersized (Craig Smith, Al Thorton), or just flat out overmatched all over the floor (Brian Skinner). The Celtics should really be able to do some damage here.

Keys to the game for the good guys:

1: Salmon and Mashed Potatoes- This may sound strange, but Tony Allen's play is going to be a huge deal here again. Rasual Butler has been one of the lone bright spots for the Clippers this season, and if Tony isn't ready to defend hard, and be aggressive going to the basket, there could be trouble there for the Celtics. They're already working on a short rotation, so if Tony can't get it done, who can?

2: Perkules- Chris "So Easy a 7ft Caveman Could Do It" Kaman is currently the leading scorer and second leading rebounder for the Clips. Perkins is currently leading the league in being one bad bad motha (shut yo mouth!) in the paint. He shut down the Dwight. Can he shut down Alley Oop too?

3: Don't take off the first or third quarters- Christmas hangover is very, very real. Trust me. Couple that with a 3hr time difference, an obviously inferior opponent, and a Lazy Sunday, the Celtics have a 'trap game' stew cookin.

Bill Walker Watch: 1 game, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 life shattering Earth changing dunks
Probability of significant playing time: 5%

-Doc didn’t even suit him up last game but HEY! That is not the point. The Point is he’s with the Celtics now. It’s only a matter of time.

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