Wednesday, November 24, 2010
TV: Comcast SportsNet  Radio: 850 AM WEEI
Location: TD Garden - Boston
Okay, okay, we all remember what happened the last time the Boston Celtics played the New Jersey Nets in Boston. It was arguably the low point of a rather dismal regular season. After all, the Nets were the laughing stock of the NBA last season, totaling a mere 12 wins.
The outcome tonight will hopefully be a little bit different. In a scenario typically reserved for the Celtics, the Nets are playing the second half of a back-to-back. Last night they clipped the Atlanta Hawks in overtime, 107-101 behind a season-high 32 points from center Brook Lopez, and 27 points points from point guard Devin Harris.
The Celtics' latest win also came against the Hawks - a 99-76 drudging that included a 39-point first quarter. The Hawks just can't catch a break against Atlantic Division teams this week.
The Nets currently rank 23rd in offensive efficiency (100.9 points/100 possessions) and 20th in defensive efficiency (105.6 points allowed/100 possessions).
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who has missed the last two contests with a strained left hamstring, is currently listed as a gametime decision. More updates on his status should be available as we get closer to tip-off. If Rondo cannot go again tonight (not necessarily a bad idea holding him out again) expect to see Nate Robinson start the game at point guard. Starting in Rondo's place the last two games, Robinson's averaged 19 points and six assists.
Celtics: Nate Robinson, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O'Neal
Nets: Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez
For the Celtics, centers Kendrick Perkins (knee) and Jermaine O'Neal (knee) are out, while point guard Rajon Rondo (hamstring) is currently a gametime decision.
For the Nets, guard Quinton Ross (calf) is listed as questionable, while guard Terrence Williams (suspension) and forward Troy Murphy (foot) are out.
For the Celtics, forward Kevin Garnett shot a blistering 80 percent from the field against the Hawks on Monday (8-10). He finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in just 24 minutes of action.
For the Nets, Brook Lopez has averaged 26 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last two games.
For the Celtics, Marquis Daniels has averaged just 3.14 points per game over the course of his last seven games.
For the Nets, Jordan Farmar shot just 1-8 against the Hawks last night (1-4 from three-point nation). He's shot just 25 percent from the nation in his last five games.
Shaquille O'Neal vs. Brook Lopez
Lopez is shooting just 33.3 percent from 10-15 feet this season and just 32 percent from 16-23 feet, according to Hoopdata. It would seem like the Celtics' best chance of limiting him offensively would be to turn him into a jump shooter. He could have trouble banging inside against the much heavier O'Neal (Shaq's got about 60 pounds on him). Interestingly, Lopez is shooting only 46 percent at the rim this season, compared to 61.4 percent last season, and 66 percent the season before.
While the Nets are certainly an improved team compared to last season, they're still a bottom feeder in the Eastern Conference that the Celtics should be able to take care of tonight. It'll be interesting to see how the Celtics start the game, as they're coming off of a very inspired effort against the Hawks (particularly defensively), which came on the heels of a not-so-inspired effort against the Raptors on Sunday. Will the defense we saw against the Hawks be present again tonight? Or will we see the effort that allowed the Raptors to drop 44 points in the paint?
The Celtics have clear advantages at the small forward (Pierce vs. Outlaw) and power forward spots (Garnett vs. Humphries) tonight. I'm expecting Garnett to take care of business against Humphries in the paint. It would help the Celtics' cause tonight if the ball found its way into Shaq early on, to see if he can draw fouls on Lopez and send New Jersey's big man to the bench.