San Antonio Spurs (12-3) at Boston Celtics (9-6)
Friday, November 24, 2016
1:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #16 Home Game #7
TV: CSN-NE, FSSW, NBA-LP 751(DTV)/751(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WOAI 1200 AM
Referees: Marc Davis, Kane Fitzgerald, Justin VanDuyne
The Celtics come home from a successful road trip to host the Spurs for their only visit to Boston this season. The Spurs are closing out a 3 game road trip after wins over Dallas and Charlotte. The Spurs have won 7 straight while the Celtics have won 3 straight for the first time this season.
The Spurs have beaten the Celtics 9 straight times going back to the 2010-11 season when the Celtics swept the series. The Spurs are a perfect 8-0 on the road so far this season. The Spurs are without Tim Duncan for the first time since he was drafted in 1997. They are still loaded with talent including MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard.
The Celtics have no one on the injured list, but that doesn't mean that they are 100% healthy. Jae Crowder is still experiencing pain from his recent ankle sprain. Isaiah Thomas is playing with a sprained finger on his shooting hand. Marcus Smart suffered a bone bruise two games ago and is playing through it. For the Spurs, DeWayne Dedmon (knee) is a game time decision.
PG SG SF PF C
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Al Horford
C: Amir Johnson
PG SG SF PF C
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Pau Gasol
Dewayne Dedmon (knee) Game Time Decision
Jae Crowder vs Kawhi Leonard
Leonard has become a star for the Spurs and is an MVP candidate this season. He leads the team in points with 25.1 points per game. He is also a top defender. This should be an interesting battle between two very good defenders.
Al Horford vs LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is averaging 18.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.15 blocks. Al will have his hands full with Aldridge's length and mobility. But then again, Aldridge will have his hands full trying to stay with Al as well.
Amir Johnson vs Pau Gasol
Gasol is averaging 12.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.27 blocks. The Spurs are very long with Aldridge and Gasol up front and Amir and Al will have to work hard on defense to keep both big men from having a big game both on offense and on the boards.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball, and they will struggle when constantly giving up second and third chance points. The Celtics are averaging 43.3 rebounds per game while the Spurs are averaging 41.9 rebounds per game. The Celtics need to continue to work extra hard on the boards.
Defense - The Celtics' defense has looked much better since The Spurs have good scorers on their team up and down the roster and so the Celtics must lock down on defense if they want to get a win. The Spurs are shooting 40% from beyond the arc and so the Celtics must especially defend the perimeter.
Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball they get good shots and play very well. When the ball stops moving, the Celtics struggle to score and the rest of their game slows down as well. They need to keep moving the ball especially against a team like the Spurs.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to play hard and be the more aggressive team. They have to go after rebounds, loose balls, and 50/50 balls. They have to be aggressive in defense and in getting to the basket. They have to be the team that works harder and wants it more.
Home Game - The Celtics are once again at home where they should get a boost from the home crowd and from the familiarity of their home court.
Coaching - Gregg Popovich is considered by many to be the best coach in the league. Brad Stevens is considered to be the best young coach in the league and the heir apparent to Popovich's crown. Matchups and coaching strategy will come into play in this game.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Each referee crew has their own way of calling the game. Will they let them play or call every little bit of contact? Will they call it even or will they favor the Spurs because of their stars or the Celtics because they are at home? With Marc Davis as the lead official it's anyone's guess. He can be good or he can be very bad.
The Spurs bring their 7 game win streak to the Garden to take on the Celtics in a matinee game.