Boston Celtics (12-10) at San Antonio Spurs (18-6)
Saturday, December 15, 2012
8:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #23 Road Game #11
TV: NBA-TV, NBAC, CSN-NE, KENS
Radio: WOAI, WEEI
Referees: Rodney Mott, Tony Brown, Kevin Fehr
The Celtics continue their road trip with a stop in San Antonio to face the ageless Tim Duncan and the Spurs. The Spurs are a very good home team with a 7-2 record at the AT&T Center. The Celtics are 4-6 on the road.
The Spurs have lost their last 2 games and so will come out strong in this one looking to get back on track. The Celtics are coming off a loss to the Rockets in their first game of the road trip. They also need to get back on track but in the second of back to back games on the road, it's hard to say if they will have the focus or the energy to do so.
Doc started Courtney Lee against the Rockets and moved Jason Terry back into his 6th man role. The results of the move weren't all that positive as the Celtics got off to a very slow start. I'm thinking that Doc may go back to JET in the starting lineup but he may also stick with Lee.
PG SG SF PF C
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Jason Terry
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kevin Garnett
Celtics ReservesJared Sullinger
InjuredAvery Bradley (shoulders) out
Red ClawsFab Melo
PG SG SF PF C
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Gary Neal
SF: Danny Green
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Dejuan Blair
Reserves Matt Bonner
Nando De Colo
Injuries Kawhi Leonard (knee) out
Stephen Jackson (finger) out Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Tony Parker
When Rondo is aggressive and focused, he can pretty much take on any point guard in the league, including Parker. Rondo usually gets up for big games and this is a big one. Hopefully aggressive Rondo shows up for this one.
Brandon Bass vs Tim Duncan
Brandon will have his hands full in this matchup. Duncan still brings a lot to the table, especially defensively. He is great at getting position for rebounds and tip ins and Bass and the other Celtics bigs need to concentrate on keeping him away from the basket.
Kevin Garnett vs Dejuan Blair
I expect KG and Bass to switch on assignments from time to time and so we will see KG on Duncan, at least part of the time. Duncan is having a very good year so far and the Celtics need to try to slow him down.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics must make defense a priority in this game.
The Spurs are a good offensive team, ranking 2nd in the league and averaging 104.8 points per game The Celtics are 12th in scoring, averaging 98.3 points per game. Both teams have slipped a bit on defense with the Spurs allowing and 44% FG%. The Celtics have slipped even more, allowing teams to shoot 45% against them. The Celtics must lock down the Spurs on defense because chances are, they won't win a shoot out against them.
Focus - On the road against a team like the Spurs, the Celtics must keep their focus from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The Spurs are very capable of taking advantage of any lack of focus on the Celtics part. The Celtics need to put in a strong effort for 48 minutes in spite of playing in a hostile environment. The Spurs won't let up and neither can the Celtics if they want to win this one.
Rebound The Spurs are 10th in the league in rebounding with 42.9 rebounds per game. The Celtics are still last with 38.5 rebounds per game. Rebounding is all about effort and desire. The Celtics need to crash the boards as a team and if they put out the effort in this area, it will translate to the rest of their game. The Spurs will translate rebounds into points and so the Celtics must beat them to the boards.
Be Aggressive When the Celtics are aggressive in going after loose balls, taking the ball to the hoop and playing in your face defense, they are very tough to beat. When they get lazy and allow teams to beat them to loose balls and rebounds and when they settle for jumpers and don't go to the basket, they are very beatable. They must stay aggressive and that starts with Rondo. Hopefully he comes out aggressively in this game.
Bench Play - The second unit must come through for the Celtics. They need quality minutes from everyone in the second unit. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games on the road and in this situation, bench play is even more important than usual.
On the Road and Fatigue The Celtics need to keep their focus playing on the road even though it's easy to loose focus in a hostile arena and with the travel and all that goes with it. Also, playing in the second of back to back games on the road isn't usually a strong point for the Celtics. Fatigue could be a factor down the stretch.