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Celtics Look To Avoid Second Straight Loss To Team Named After Animal With Claws

Charlotte Bobcats (28-42, 11-25 away) @ Boston Celtics (50-20, 20-7 home)
Time: 7:30 PM EsT, Friday, March 25th, 2011
Venue: TD Garden
Officials: David Jones Kane Fitzgerald Michael Smith
The Line: This is the 4th meeting between the two teams this season, and the winner will decide the series.

Game Thread | Chat Room

And, we're back to 2-2 over our last 4. I recall reading a few posters a in late February saying things like "Well its .500 ball from here to the end of the season, get used to it", and thinking that it was complete garbage. Well so far the joke has been on the optimists. For every record setting win against the Bucks, there has been a loss to the Nets or the Clippers. For every hard fought win against the Knicks or Hornets there has been a hard fought yet futile loss to the Grizzlies or Sixers.

The up and down play has got more going for the fan base than motion sickness. It leaves us in a bit of a nebulous space without anything solid to stand on. Will the O'Neal's get back? Will Rondo's play even out? WIll Pierce look to shoot more? WIll Troy "Horse-face" Murphy ever turn the corner?

The up and down performances don't leave you with many answers. Those prone to optimism will be optimistic, while those prone to pessimism will infuriate those prone to optimism. Without much consistency I think we're approaching "its just a game, there isn't a larger trend here, if they win, great..if they don't..great" territory.

If our recent play has been a trend, I expect a win tonight. Of the 9 losses the Celtics have endured since Feb 1st, only two of them have come following another loss. Typically the Celtics bounce back after a 'not-victory', so I expect that to be the case against an under-talented visiting Bobcats teams. The Celtics seemed to have real solid segments of cognizant thought on Wednesday night, so I'm hoping that between that and the outrage after the loss, the Celtics can string together 48 minutes of decent play tonight to bring home the Dub-ya.

Probable Starting Lineups, Team Connections, Key Matchups, Keys to the Game, and X-Factor all courtesy of FLCeltsFan, who set a world record for being awesome earlier this month, and is now trying for the universal title.

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo.....Ray Allen ..... Paul Pierce.....Glen Davis..... Nenad Krstic

Boston Bench Mob
Glen Davis
Jeff Green
Delonte West
Sasha Pavlovic
Carlos Arroyo
Avery Bradley


Von Wafer (calf) day to day
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Troy Murphy (ankle) day to day

Probable Starters
PG......SG.....SF.....PF ..... C
DJ Augustin........Gerald Henderson....Dante Cunningham........Boris Diaw........Kwame Brown

Bobcats Bench

Shawn Livingston
Dominic McGuire
Eduardo Najera
Matt Carroll
DJ White
Garrett Temple

DeSagana Diop (Achilles) out
Joel Pryzbilla (knee) day to day
Stephen Jackson (hamstring) day to day
Tyrus Thomas (ribs) day to day

Team Connections
D.J. Augustin and Avery Bradley both attended the University of Texas
Troy Murphy and Matt Carroll were teammates at Notre Dame from 1999‐2001
Tyrus Thomas, Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal all attended Louisiana State University
DeSagana Diop, Stephen Jackson and Rajon Rondo all attended Oak Hill Academy
Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Shaun Livingston were teammates in Oklahoma City from 2008‐2010
Green, Krstic and DJ White were teammates in Oklahoma City from
Nenad Krstic and DeSagana Diop were teammates in New Jersey during the 2007‐08 season
Shaquille O’Neal and Boris Diaw were teammates in Phoenix during the 2008‐09 season
Kwame Brown and Von Wafer were teammates on the 2005‐06 Los
Angeles Lakers
Shaun Livingston and Von Wafer were teammates on the 2006‐07 Los Angeles Clippers
Eduardo Najera and Von Wafer were teammates in Denver during the 2007‐08 season
Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal were teammates in Indiana
from 2004‐07
DeSagana Diop and Sasha Pavlovic were teammates on the 2004‐05 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs DJ Augustin
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. We have seen that time and again this season, especially lately when Rondo has been struggling. When Rondo is aggressive in running the team and playing his game, the Celtics as a team are more aggressive and tend to play well. When Rondo is passive, the Celtics tend to be also and that is when they get beaten by teams that they should beat. Augustin has benefited from the coaching change more than any other Bobcat and has emerged as a very good point guard. He will challenge Rondo and Rondo needs to have his head in the game.

KG has been playing very well and acknowledged the need for the Celtics to begin playing with some urgency and intensity after their loss to the Grizzlies. He should come out strong and hopefully will be able to lead the Celtics by example to be more aggressive in this game. He should be able to get the better of this matchup.

Honorable Mention

Paul Pierce vs Dante Cunningham (or Stephen Jackson)
If Jackson plays this will be definitely be a key matchup as Jackson is the focal point of the Bobcat's offense, especially since the Bobcats traded Gerald Wallace. Whoever plays for the Bobcats, Pierce has to find his shot and be aggressive in going to the hoop and leading the Celtics. After the Grizzlies game, Doc said that he had to find ways to get Pierce the ball more. It would be great to see him get on a hot streak.

Keys to the Game
Focus and Energy - The Celtics have to especially come out to start the game with energy and focus. They can't keep digging a hole and expect to climb out of it. They also have to play 48 minutes and close out the game. They have played well in spurts but they have to play well throughout the game. This includes taking better care of the ball and limiting turnovers. They turned the ball over 20 times vs the Grizzlies and some of those were due to a lack of focus.

Defense - The Celtics need to make defense their priority. They have struggled since the trade to play defense on a consistent basis. The defense has been especially problematic in first quarters when the C's have let their defense lapse. The Celtics must find that defensive cohesion if they expect to win the title. Defense becomes more important in the playoffs and with all the new faces, the Celtics must work on getting their defense back on track now.

Rebound - Good things happen when the Celtics crash the boards. When they show energy in rebounding, that energy spreads to other areas of the game. They prevent second chance points and fast break baskets by grabbing the rebounds as well. They allowed the Grizzlies to grab 11 offensive rebounds. The Celtics must do better on the boards.

Be Aggressive - When the Celtics are the more aggressive team they usually win. They need to be aggressive in going to the basket, in grabbing rebounds, and in hustling after loose balls. This goes for the Celtics as a team and for each player as well.

Move the Ball
There have been long periods in games recently where the ball just seems to stick and players try to do too much on their own. When they move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man, they are tough to beat. They have to get back to playing team ball and not hero ball.

Losing at Home
The Celtics lost their last game at home and hopefully that will give them the extra boost they need to come out strong in this one and avoid a 2 game home losing streak.

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