Sacramento Kings(8-27, 2-12 Road) @ Boston Celtics (28-9, 16-3 Home)
Time: 7:30 PM EST Venue: TD Garden
Officials: Bob Delaney Curtis Blair Derrick Collins
TV: CSN-NE, CSN-CA, League Pass Radio: WEEI
The Line: The Celtics are 4-4 over the past 8. The Kings have the second worst
record in the league. The Celtics were 0-2 against the Kings last year.
GAME THREAD | CHAT
The first time the Celtics met the Kings last season, the C's were in the beginning throes of a regular season swan dive, that took them from the best record in the league in December to a 3rd overall seed in the Eastern Conference. The dropped both games to the Kings last season, and the Kings were pretty bad then.
The Kings are worse now, but that does not matter. Not at all. Last season's post-December mediocrity was not because every team was just suddenly 'better' when they played the Celtics. It was a mixed bag of inconsistent effort from aging veterans, injuries to key players, and a team that played with what a lot of fans regarded as a sense of undeserved entitlement and ennui.
Well, say hello to 2011. Key players (Garnett, Perkins, Delonte West) are injured.BBD's questionable shot selection (and FG%) have fans are turning on him like he is some sort of green plus-sized ogre with a sassy sidekick, and at this point in the article last year, I'd have Bill Murray mention something about dogs and cats seeking a domestic partnership.
A loss tonight would prove all those sassy sportswriters right who said in December that "the Celtics are x-y after Christmas though, so look for their play to drop in January", and somewhere someone would suggest we bring back Antoine Walker and trade Baby.
But, there is another way. There is an easy solution to solve all this mess. It'll make people forget about that ugly, ugly loss to the Pistons. We won't even care about the awful game 2 nights ago against the Rockets. We might all wake up tomorrow with a new sense of direction and focus, with a refreshed zest for life, and heck, we won't even mind shoveling our walk tomorrow. All it takes is a blowout win tonight. I'm talking nearly doubling their score mid-way through the second quarter. I'm talking Luke Harangody with a double-double**, and Von Wafer really "being the Fro-Hawk" out there with 12 points. I'm talking about the second unit extending the lead, not just holding it, and I'm talking Jermaine O'Neal getting 25 mins of dominating D without fouling out twice.
I'm talkin' Celtics basketball...whaddya say Boston?
Probable Starting Lineups
Injuries And Stuff: Kevin Garnett (Doubtful), Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins (OUT)
Injuries And stuff: Tyreke Evans (QUEST)
Match-up Of The Game: Shaq V Boogie (Demarcus Cousins)
Shaquille O'Neal was a senior in hikeschool when DeMarcus Cousins was born. Shaq is old enough to be the boy's father, and if the Celtics are going to really get on the Kings tonight, Shaq is going to need to display some tough love parenting.
Cousins is a physical beast. He's 6'10, over 270 lbs and stronger than 90% of the guys in the league. But, he's also got the kind of athleticism that most 3's and 4's in the league would kill for. In 4 or 5 years we could well be talking about DeMarcus Cousins in the same way we now talk about Dwight Howard.
But this is today, and today DeMarcus Cousins is a promising yet inconsistent rookie. Shaquille O'Neal is a wiley veteran, and he's been in the league long enough so that probably a significant portion of you readers out there weren't even born yet when the big diesel was a rookie. On top of that Shaq is still big enough, strong enough, and smart enough to use what little athleticism he has left as good as anyone in the league.
Shaq won't play more than 20-ish minutes tonight, but every single one of those minutes should be a personal torture for DeMarcus Cousins. If we get the ball to Shaq early and often, I don't expect Cousins to leave the floor in the first quarter with less than 2 fouls.
**Re: Luke Harangody's Dbl-Dbls: Who doesn't like seeing that? If he does it enough, we should make a T-shirt that says "double-doubles..so easy a Caveman can do it!"