Shaquille O'Neal is expected to be in the starting lineup for the Celtics tonight, after missing the team's practice yesterday prior to the flight to Cleveland, due to a "miscommunication". Head coach Doc Rivers downplayed the incident, suggesting that Shaq does not have a history of missing practices without an excuse or reason.
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O'Neal
Cavaliers: Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Joey Graham, J.J. Hickson, and Anderson Varejao
For the Celtics, centers Kendrick Perkins (knee) and Jermaine O'Neal (knee) and guard Delonte West (wrist) are out tonight.
The Cavaliers are healthy.
For the Celtics, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O'Neal all scored in double figures while shooting over 50 percent from the field in the Celtics' win over the Raptors on Friday.
For the Cavaliers, Mo Williams tallied 25 points and 12 assists in the club's victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday.
For Boston, Marquis Daniels scored just one point in the team's win over Toronto on Friday while playing just under 13 minutes.
For Cleveland, Anderson Varejao was held to just three points in over 30 minutes of action against the Grizzlies.
Kevin Garnett vs. J.J. Hickson. In the first meeting between these two clubs, Garnett hauled in a season-high 15 rebounds, but had a difficult time containing Hickson, who shot a blistering 8-11 from the field as he tallied a game-high 21 points. Cleveland head coach Byron Scott holds high expectations for Hickson, and hasn't granted the young power forward any leniencies when he's felt like his game has been lacking. He benched Hickson for the final 18 minutes of a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this month. Since that benching, however, Hickson has averaged just eights points per game.
The Cavaliers sit third from last in the league in offensive efficiency (99.5 points/100 possessions) and are ranked in the bottom half of the league (18th overall) in defensive efficiency (105.2 points allowed/100 possessions). Despite their low offensive ranking, if the Celtics' defense isn't on point tonight, the Cavs will be capable of posting significant points on the scoreboard. Mo Williams, having fallen out of the shadow of James, has had a productive season offensively, as he's currently averaging 16.2 points and 5.4 assists. He posted at least 20 points in each of his last three games, and has shot at least 66.7 percent from three-point nation in two of those games. Rajon Rondo will have to be mindful of his location on the floor tonight. Williams is historically a pretty good mid-range shooter, so keep an eye on Boston's pick-and-roll defense, as Williams could use the screens to set up easier shots for himself.
The C's also need to be wary of Daniel Gibson, who provides Cleveland with a nice offensive spark off the bench. He scored 16 points against the Celtics back in October, and is currently shooting over 37 percent from the nation.