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Rajon Rondo and the Celtics visit Paul Pierce and the Nets looking for 2nd straight win

The Celtics travel to Brooklyn for the 4th and final meeting of the season with Paul Pierce and the Brooklyn Nets.

Boston Celtics (23-46) at Brooklyn Nets (35-31)
Friday, March 21, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #70, Road Game #34
TV: CSNNE, YES, NBA-LP 757(DTV), 754(xfinity)
Radio: WZLX 100.7, WFAN
Barclays Center
Referees: Ron Garretson, Steven Anderson, Sean Wright

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics travel to Brooklyn for the 4th and final meeting of the season with Paul Pierce and the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn won the first meeting between these two teams in Brooklyn 104096 and they also won the first meeting in Boston 85-79. The Celtics won the second meeting in Boston 91-84.

This will be Rondo's first game in Brooklyn as he missed their first visit there in December. He averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds in the two games in Boston. Kevin Garnett has been out for the past month with back spasms and is expected to miss this game. Paul Pierce has struggled against his former team in the first three games averaging just 6.7 points on 6-24 shooting.

Brooklyn has won 10 straight games at home and have pulled to within 2.5 games of the Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead. They are the 5th seed and are 2 games behind Chicago for the 4th seed and just 1/2 a game ahead of Washington for the 6th seed. The Celtics have lost 7 in a row on the road and have moved up to the 6th worst record in the league.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Shaun Livingston

Small Forward
Jeff Green vs Joe Johnson

Power Forward

Brandon Bass vs Paul Pierce

Kris Humphries vs Mason Plumlee

Celtics Reserves
Joel Anthony
Chris Johnson
Phil Pressey
Chris Babb
Jared Sullinger
Kelly Olynyk
Jerryd Bayless

Keith Bogans (personal) out
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Gerald Wallace (knee) out

Nets Reserves
Andray Blatche
Mirza Teletovic
Andrei Kirilenko
Marquis Teague
Jason Collins
Alan Anderson
Marcus Thornton

Brook Lopez (foot) out
Kevin Garnett (back) out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
This should be a good matchup between two veteran point guards. Williams has been playing with a lot of confidence lately and is averaging 14.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 6.4 assists this season. Rondo has struggled on the road in recent games, shooting just 27.8% on the road, including 1-17 from beyond the arc.

Brandon Bass vs Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce has moved to the power forward and has been playing well there. He is averaging 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. In spite of playing very well at the PF position for the Nets, he has struggled against the Celtics, averaging just 6.7 points on 6-24 shooting in their 3 meetings this season. This should be an interesting matchup to watch.

Keys to the Game

Defense -
The Celtics must play tough team defense in order to get a win on the road. They were able to clamp down on defense in the second half against the Heat and got the win. They will need more of the same in this game.

The Celtics must crash the boards to give themselves extra possessions and to prevent second chance baskets for the Nets. The Celtics will need to put out extra effort if they want to win the rebounding battle.

Take Care of the Ball -
The Celtics need to keep their focus and take care of the basketball. Turnovers lead to easy baskets for the opponents. The Nets are very good at forcing turnovers and so the Celtics have to be very careful not to give them easy opportunities.

Be Aggressive
The Celtics were aggressive against the Heat, diving for loose balls, driving to the hoop, defending and just playing like they wanted the game more. They need to keep that aggressiveness in this game.

Focus -
The Celtics must keep their focus and play through all of the distractions that come with playing on the road.

Home Court Advantage and Motivation
The Celtics have lost 7 in a row on the road and have won just 8 games on the road this season. The Nets on the other hand have won their last 11 games at home. Will these streaks hold up in this one?
The Nets are playing for playoff position while the Celtics are playing for pride. Which motivation will be stronger?

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