Time: 7:30PM Venue: TD Garden
Officials: Mike Callahan, John Goble, Scott Twardoski
TV: CSN-NE, FSO Radio: WEEI
The Line: The Celtics are 1-1 against the Cavs this season, losing their 2nd overall game after beating the Heat. The second game the C's beat the Cavs by 19
GAME THREAD | CHAT ROOM
The Celtics are coming off one of the most disappointing losses of the season. The loss to the Wizards was unfortunate for many reasons, among them that the Celtics led by 16 at one point, and also that Andray Blatche is a member of the Wizards.
I'm not saying this to make you relive potentially traumatic memories. I'm telling you this because frankly the Celtics are thinking about it. Kevin Garnett hasn't been back for 5 games yet, and suddenly they lay an egg against Andray Blatche and the Wizards? That's not going to sit well with the Big Ticket.
That storyline is going to be one of the larger contributing factors tonight. This season the Celtics are playing with a sense of pride I did not see towards the end of last January. They're 9-3 through the month, and when you look at that in the lens of the last year (6 wins, 9 losses in Jan) that is a pretty encouraging number, especially when you figure Kevin Garnett and Shaq have both missed time this month, and that's on top of injuries to Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, and Delonte West.
That pride has shown itself in the Celtics overall record, but there is one particular face of the record that is relevant here: The Celtics have never dropped a consecutive loss to a sub .500 team all season. The Celtics haven't always beaten up on the poorer teams like you'd hope they would, but they typically win those games.
On top of that Cleveland is on a 17 game losing streak that has involved losses to some of the worst teams in the league, including a loss to New Jersey last night. Normally I'd feel some sympathy for Cleveland, we all remember 2006-2007, but lets wait until they're playing someone else to root for the underdog.
Injuries And Stuff: Shaquille O'Neal (OUT), Jermaine O'Neal (OUT), Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West (OUT BUT COMING SOON!)
Injuries And Stuff: Andersen Varejao (OUT), Mo Williams (OUT), Leon Powe (OUT), Anthony Parker (QUES)
MATCH-UP OF THE NIGHT: Rajon Rondo V The Cavs Interior Defense
I choose an unorthodox match-up tonight to reflect the kind of match-up the Celtics face tonight. The Cavaliers pre-'decision' were headlined by one man, but as a unit they played pretty darn good defense. If the Cavs have a strong showing tonight, it will not be because Boobie Gibson comes through with a 7-9 performance from downtown or something. The Cavs will perform tonight, for better or worse, as a team.
That brings me to my next point: Rajon Rondo since he has returned from injury still hasn't looked 'right' to me. There are moments when he looks like he's regained his explosion off the dribble, but he hasn't seemed like a consistent threat into the paint like he was pre-injury. Tonight, Rondo faces a defense whose most capable interior defender is Ryan Hollins. I'd wager a solid 40% of our readers have no idea who he is, and with good reason. Rondo has a fantastic chance tonight to show us that he's an every possession threat on offense, jumpshot or no.
Only One Key For The Good Guys:
1) Play Up Not Down- The Celtics have a habit of sometimes not taking poor teams too seriously. They've needed overtime to beat a few sub .500 teams, and they've had their fair share of 1 or 2 point wins against poor opponents. They need to play the best they can play, not the best the Cavs can make them play.