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C's Hoping to Get Back On Track Against the Nets

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Boston Celtics (47-14) at New Jersey Nets (26-33)
Regular Season Game 62 – Road Game #32
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
7:30 PM ET
IZOD Center

Game Thread l Chat

After two games at home, the Celtics hit the road again to take on the New Jersy Nets at the Izod Center. The Celtics are coming off a disappointing loss at home to the Detroit Pistons and would love to get back on track against the division rival Nets.

The Nets are 5-5 in the division while the Celtics are 12-1 vs teams in the division. The Nets are 13-18 at home while the Celtics are 22-9 on the road. The Nets won a tough game last night in Milwaukee but the game went right down to the wire and 3 of their starters had to play well over 30 minutes to get the win.

The Nets have struggled this season, but the Celtics shouldn't expect them to be a pushover. Vince Carter and Devin Harris are the league's highest scoring backcourt duo with Harris averaging 22.3 ppg and Carter averaging 20.5 ppg. Also, rookie center Brook Lopez is proving to be a force in the center for them.

The Celtics have been off since their Sunday afternoon game vs the Pistons while the Nets are playing in the second of back to back games. The Celtics are 12-1 in games after having at least 2 days off. The Nets are 10-7 in the second of back to back games.

Needless to say, this is an important game. The Celtics have fallen half a game behind the Cavs for home court advantage and face those Cavs on Friday. The Celtics need to take this one seriously and not overlook the Nets on the way to the showdown with the Cavs.

ProbableStarting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Devin Harris

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Vince Carter

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Trenton Hassell

Power Forward
Glen Davis vs Yi Jianlian

Kendrick Perkins vs Brook Lopez

Injuries Boston CelticsTony Allen (thumb) out
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (neck/head) out
Paul Pierce (thumb) will play

New Jersey NetsEduardo Najera (ab strain) out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo PPG 11.7 RPG 5.40 APG 8.5 EFF + 19.22
Devin Harris PPG 22.3 RPG 3.20 APG 6.6 EFF + 20.71
Rondo has held his own vs Harris in their two meetings so far this season. Devin Harris has been playing very well and got the nod for the All Star game over Rondo. Rondo should take that personally and use it as motivation to come out and play aggressively in this one.

Ray Allen PPG 18.4 RPG 3.40 APG 2.8 EFF + 17.20
Vince Carter PPG 20.5 RPG 5.10 APG 4.8 EFF + 19.40
Ray had an off game vs the Pistons and hopefully will bounce back in this one. He will have a tough job on the defensive end trying to contain the explosive Carter.

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins PPG 7.8 RPG 8.00 APG 1.2 EFF + 13.67
Brook Lopez PPG 12.5 RPG 8.00 APG 0.9 EFF + 16.50
Perk will have his hands full with Brook Lopez who has been playing very well this season. Lopez has the size advantage and Perk has an experience advantage.

Biggest Mismatch
Glen Davis vs Yi Jianlian
Big Baby has size and strength but Yi has the height. It will be interesting to see how this one works out. Will strength and width be able to make up for 4+ inches in height?

Team Connections
Brian Scalabrine played for the Nets from 01-05
Josh Boone and Ray Allen are former UConn Huskies
Stromile Swift and Big Baby both went to LSU
Ryan Anderson and Leon Powe are both former Cal Bears
Eddie House played for the Nets in the 06-07 season
Nets assistant coaches Doug Overton (99-01) and Roy Rogers (97-98) both played for the Celtics
Eddie House and Keyon Dooling were teammates on the Clippers

Keys to the Game
Focus The Celtics seem to be losing focus in games recently. Whether they are tired, or missing the injured players or for some other reason, they look almost disinterested at times. They need to get that focus back and get back to playing Celtics' team ball.

Defense The Celtics' success has come from their intensity on the defensive end. Against the Clippers and then the Pistons, that defense was no where to be found for most of the game. They lose some of that defensive intensity without KG, but even without him, they need to get back to what won them the title, and that is playing lock down defense. The Nets are 16-5 when allowed to reach 100 points so it is important for the Celtics to defend them well.

Be Closers Twice recently the Celtics have had problems closing out a game and have allowed teams to outscore them down the stretch. They need to get that killer instinct back and keep their focus right until the end of the game and not allow teams to outscore them at the end.

Rest vs Fatigue
The Celtics have been off since their Sunday afternoon loss to the Pistons while the Nets are playing in the second of back to back games. The Celtics have typically played very well when given two days off before a game. Paul Pierce especially will benefit from the days off and will hopefully be able to shake off the thumb injury.