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Celtics Visit Cavs for a Matinee Game

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(41-23) at (51-15)
Boston Celtics (41-23) at Cleveland Cavaliers (51-15)
Sunday, March 14
3:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #65, Road Game #34
TV: ABC
Radio: ESPNR, WTAM, WEEI
Quicken Loans Arena
Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics have recently lost games they should have easily won and they were booed off their home court after a lackluster effort against the Grizlies. With their pride on the line, they came through with a blowout win over the Pacers on Friday. That was a good start, but still, that was just the Pacers. The Celtics need to show that they are still a contender by beating a top team and in this game they have that chance.

On opening night, the Celtics got their first win in Cleveland since 2004. The Cavs returned the favor on the Celtics home court in February with a come from behind 20 point victory over the Celtics who were playing without Paul Pierce. Last season, the Cavs danced on the sidelines and taunted the Celtics in a win at the Q. The Celtics have to be motivated for this game if they have any pride at all.

The Cavs haven't faltered very much this season. They have the best record in the league and even with LeBron sitting out 3 games and with both Shaq and Jamison both out and Ilgauskas unable to return to the team yet they still have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Celtics, on the other hand, with everyone healthy, are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Cavs are tough to beat on their home court with a 28-4 record While the Celtics are 28-11 on the road.

Antawn Jamison has been out with a knee injury and will be a game time decision. He has said that he is targeting this game to return to the lineup. If he is unable to go, Leon Powe will probably get the start once again. With Shaq still sidelined with the thumb injury, courtesy of Big Baby, JJ Hickson has been starting at center with Varejao coming off the bench.

In their last game against the Pacers, the Celtics finally blew out a team that they should have blown out. They were finally moving the ball, grabbing rebounds, playing as a team, and playing with energy. If they carry that mentality and focus over to this game, they have a good chance of winning. But if they go back to their lackluster play of the previous games, then it will be another long night.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen vs Anthony Parker

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James

Power Forward
vs
Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison

Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs JJ Hickson

Key Matchups
vs
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
This is one of the premiere matchups in the league. Playing LeBron seems to bring out the best in Pierce and he covers LeBron about as well as anyone in the league, when he is healthy, that is. Pierce seemed to shake off whatever had been bothering him with a good game against the Pacers. Let's hope that he continues his aggressive play in this game.

vs
Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams
The Celtics success depends a great deal on Rondo. In the last meeting between these two, Rondo was aggressive in the first half, helping the Celtics to build a lead. In the second half, Rondo allowed Williams to get hot while cooling off himself, which led to a big loss for the Celtics. Rondo needs to keep Williams from getting hot, especially from beyond the arc. At the same time, he needs to be aggressive in running the Celtics offense.

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison
Jamison has been out with a cyst behind his knee and has targeted this game to return, but it will probably be a game time decision. Leon started in the last game and is listed as the starter in this game as well. KG is familiar with Leon's game and vice versa but KG would have a height advantage and should be able to get his shot off over Leon. Hopefully if Jamison does return, KG can take advantage of any rust he may have from the injury.

Keys to the Game
Defense
-The Celtics are capable of playing lock down defense but they have rarely done so this season. If they hope to win this game, they have to commit to 48 minutes of tough defense.

Energy - The Celtics can't hope to sleepwalk through this game and pull out a win. They need to come out with energy and play with energy for 48 minutes.

Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, the offense hits on all cylinders. When the offense gets stagnant and players try to do too much on their own, then we lose to teams like the Nets and Grizzlies.

Rebound - The Celtics can rebound when they put out the effort to do so. They can't win if they allow teams to get twice as many rebounds as they do. Crashing the boards will prevent easy put backs and fast break points by the Cavs.

X-Factor
Who wants it more?