Wednesday, March 10, 2010
TV: Comcast SportsNet; Radio: WEEI
Venue: TD Garden
The Boston Celtics, fresh off a disappointing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last night, look to get back to their winning ways against the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at 7:30pm.
The Celtics fell, 86-84, at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks last night, as Paul Pierce shot just 3-13 from the field and Ray Allen only managed to take three shots. The C's had been on a modest four-game winning streak, and will look to start a new one tonight against an upstart Memphis Grizzlies squad.
Memphis sports one of the best young rosters in the NBA, with proven guys like Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and Marc Gasol all serving as integral parts to the team's fair amount of success this season. The Grizzlies were in the playoff picture the first time these two teams met in Memphis back on December 14 (remember Ray's three-pointer with 17.5 seconds left off the broken Pierce-Kevin Garnett pick-and-roll play?), but now reside four games behind eighth place Portland.
Nevertheless, if the Celtics are susceptible to any specific type of team, it's certainly the young, athletic, and feisty ones that pose the most problems. Unfortunately for Boston tonight, Memphis fits that bill practically better than anyone. While Memphis might not preach defense (the Grizz are allowing 102.81 points per game) they're more than capable of getting out on the break and creating easy transition buckets for guys like Gay and Mayo - their athletic wing players.
All-Star Zach Randolph is listed as questionable for tonight's game, after missing Monday's game against the Nets with "lower back tightness". If he does play, however, his bulk could prove troublesome for Kevin Garnett, who will also have to be extra aggressive on the boards, as Randolph rips down 11.8 rebounds per game - good for second in the entire league.
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Grizzlies: Mike Conley Jr., O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph
Health Check: The Celtics are healthy.
For the Grizzlies, guard Ronnie Brewer (hamstring) is listed as doubtful, while center Steven Hunter (knee) and forward Zach Randolph (back) are listed as questionable.
Keep It In Mind: Kendrick Perkins has not recorded double-digit rebounds in a game since February 18.
Who's Hot: For the Celtics, Rajon Rondo scored 20 points on 6-10 shooting last night against the Bucks.
For the Grizzlies, Mike Conley scored 21 points on 9-18 shooting against the Nets on Monday.
Who's Not: For the Celtics, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen shot a combined 3-16 against the Bucks last night.
For the Grizzlies, O.J. Mayo shot just 2-8 and finished with eight points in 40 minutes against the Nets on Monday.
Key Matchup: Ray Allen vs. O.J. Mayo
Honorable Mention: Paul Pierce vs. Rudy Gay
Skinny: O.J. Mayo should get the defensive assignment on Ray Allen tonight, and he sticks to screens the way used gum sticks to the undersides of school desks. Ray should have no problem skirting around the court and finding openings for shots, meaning the Celtics' offense might flow primarily through him tonight. Paul Pierce's job starts on the defensive end tonight, as Rudy Gay's a 20-plus point kind of scorer who needs to be held in check. On the other end, despite Gay's lackluster defensive reputation, Pierce could struggle against his quickness and superior athleticism.
The starting five need to lock in on defense early, in an effort to slow down Memphis' fast-paced offense before it has the chance to shift into high gear. On top of that, both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol need to be kept off the glass, particularly on the offensive end. Randolph and Gasol combine to average over seven offensive rebounds per game, and the C's need to be ready to match the energy Memphis' inside tandem are sure to bring.