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Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets to make history

The Celtics face off against the Brooklyn Nets today in a game that will make history. For the first time ever, fans get to see what a 44 minute game would look like.

Rajon Rondo defends Nets SG Joe Johnson
Rajon Rondo defends Nets SG Joe Johnson
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (3-3) at Brooklyn Nets (3-0)

Sunday, October 19, 2014, 3:00 PM ET

Preseason Game #7

TV: NBATV (National), CSNHD (Boston), Yes HD (New York)

Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

The Boston Celtics face off against the Brooklyn Nets this afternoon in what will be a truly historic game. For the first time ever, the game will consist of 4 11-minute quarters in a 44-minute game. The NBA is currently in a state of flux with the new commissioner Adam Silver tinkering with several possible rule changes. Silver is trying to figure out a way to reduce the wear and tear on NBA stars, and one of his ideas was to make the game 4 minutes shorter. This idea hasn't been well-received by the players. Most of the players who have discussed the possible change would rather decrease the overall number of games instead of decreasing the time of each game. As a fan, I would obviously prefer neither change to take place, but having a 44-minute NBA game just doesn't seem right. However, this doesn't change the fact that Stevens and Hollins will have to game plan for a 44-minute game, and that probably means that the non-guaranteed guys won't get much run.

While the 44-minute game makes this matchup very interesting, something else that stands out is that the Celtics play the Nets in their next 3 games. The Celtics will finish off the preseason with two match ups against the Nets (the first in Brooklyn and the second in Boston), and then the Nets will stick around Boston for the Celtics season opener. It will be interesting to see the adjustments that Stevens and Hollins make between the first and third matchup. I can't remember ever seeing the Celtics match up against the same team 3 games in a row, but this is a great opportunity for Stevens to put his best foot forward against Lionel Hollins. Stevens will go toe-to-toe with a veteran coach in 3 straight games, and the coach who makes the best adjustments will probably come away with a series win.

Possible Starters:

Evan Turner, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk

Since Jeff Green has been back, Stevens has gone with this starting lineup. I assume that he will stick with this lineup until Rondo gets back and takes Turner's spot as the starting point guard. While I would like to see Smart get the start here to see how he matches up with another strong point guard Deron Williams, Evan Turner has been the better player so far this preseason.

Injury Report:

  • Rajon Rondo (hand) - Out
  • James Young (hamstring) - Questionable
  • Vitor Faverani (knee) - Out
  • Will Bynum (hamstring) - Out

Possible Starters:

Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mirza Teletovic, Kevin Garnett

With Brook Lopez out, Kevin Garnett will likely start at the 5 next to Teletovic at the 4. However, Garnett has missed the last few days of practice with a stomach bug, so Mason Plumlee may get the start if Garnett is unable to go. The Celtics were supposedly high on Plumlee going into the 2013 draft, but they moved up to get Olynyk instead of waiting to take Plumlee at 16. Plumlee slipped all the way to the Nets at 26, and his rookie season proved to a lot of teams that they made a mistake by passing on him. I'm interested to see how Olynyk and Plumlee match up against one another. Olynyk is much more versatile offensively and spaces the floor much better, but Plumlee is a far superior defender and rebounder. If Garnett's stomach bug keeps him out, we should get a good look at how the two second year studs match up against one another.

Injury Report:

  • Brook Lopez (foot) - Out
  • Kevin Garnett (stomach bug) - Questionable

Keys to the Game:

  • Pace and Space: This is one key to the game that has been a constant in every preseason matchup. So far this preseason, the Celtics have shot the ball extremely well from the three-point line (other than the second matchup with the Raptors), but they haven't run the floor as much as I would like to see. Against the older starting lineup of the Nets, it will be really important to push the pace and pick up easy buckets in transition.
  • Defending the Three-Point Line: The Nets have shot a blistering 41.3% from the three-point line so far this preseason. They have also scored a ridiculous 112.3 points per game in the preseason. These 2 numbers give a good indication of why they have won all three of their preseason match-ups. If the Celtics want to win their first matchup with the Nets, it will be extremely important to defend the three-point line. So far, the Celtics have held opponents to 34.1% from three in preseason play. If we can hold the Nets to around that number, it will take away a huge part of their offense, and it will give us a tremendous advantage.

Key Matchup: Jared Sullinger vs. Mirza Teletovic

While this may not be the matchup most fans expected to see, these two players will be the leading scorers in each of their starting lineups. Marcus Thornton has been the Celtics leading scorer in preseason, but he isn't a starter. Brook Lopez has been the Nets leading scorer in preseason, but his foot injury will keep him out of this game. Therefore, when it comes to the most important matchup between starting lineups, these are the two guys who will be responsible for manufacturing offense. These guys also happen to be the leading rebounders for both of their teams. Also, they are both shooting right over 52% from the three point line. This will truly be a battle between stretch fours. These guys will both be firing away from both inside and out, so both guys will also be tasked with defending inside and out. Jared Sullinger should be able to win the rebounding battle, but Teletovic is definitely a guy he will need to box out and out hustle. If Sullinger can out-shoot, out-score, and out-rebound Teletovic, he will give the Celtics a tremendous advantage in their most important matchup of the night.

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