HighTops has the answers to questions you didn't know you had ...
Boston’s record of 46-25 leads the Atlantic Division by 10 games. That gives them a lock on 3rd place in the East, but they only have the 7th best home record in the East, 22-12. They’re 28-6 against sub .500 teams, and 18-19 against teams with a record above .500. For March they are 10-4 and averaging 101.1 PPG on 48.6% from the field, 38.8% from three and 77.6% from the FT line with 9.3 steals per game.
Two things I’d like to repeat from my last Boston scouting report; 1) because Boston plays at such a slow pace, 93 possessions per game 7th lowest in the NBA, their 99 PPG average is deceiving. They have an Offensive Efficiency that is more like that of a team that averages 105 PPG, and their eFG% ranks them 4th in the league. 2) Defense is the name of the game in Boston, and they are ranked 2nd in Defensive Efficiency and 6th in Defensive eFG%.
The Big Three (Garnett, Pierce & Allen) is now the Big Four with the addition of Rajon Rondo who just scored his 6th triple double. I don’t want to forget Kendrick Perkins who completes the starters for Boston. Besides having 3 All-Stars, Boston also has the player of the week for March 15-21. Pierce received the award after averaging 24.8 points on .630 shooting in 26.4 minutes with 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals, while leading Boston to wins over Detroit, New York, Houston and Dallas.
With the recent acquisitions of Michael Finley and Nate Robinson, Rivers now has a excellent bench that he can use in a variety of way. In the recent game against Denver, Rivers watched a 21 pt halftime lead dwindle down to 7 pts, with his starters on the court. So at the 9:26 mark of the fourth, Rivers went small and sent out a lineup of Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Michael Finley, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Two minutes and 40 seconds later, that lead was up to 17 and out of reach for Denver.
Finley who signed on as a FA in March has replaced Tony Allen in the rotation. Robinson who came over in the deal for Eddie House, also took over House’s 3pt shooting, hitting 5-6 against Indiana on March 12th. And completing the bench are Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Brian Scalabrine and Sheldon Williams.
With all his stars healthy and playing together, and with a bench that he’s more than willing to go deep into, Rivers has the Celtics playing their best ball. And, the Kings are the 6th worst team in the league and without their best players,
Back on Feb 16th before the Martin/Landry trade, the Kings gave Boston a run for their money, but lost by 3, 95-92. Both teams shot below 38% from the field, but Boston shot 83% from the FT line to the Kings 63%, and made 7 more FT’s to win the game. Casspi was our leading scorer, but based on recent performances that’s not likely to repeat. Our backcourt of Evans and Martin won’t even be playing, so there’s not much to discern from the last game, so I’m wondering if I should be mentioning it at all.
So, match-ups; Beno can’t defend Rondo, Cisco against Ray Allen is a definite win for Boston. We have no one to match up with Robinson’s quickness, and certainly no one who can hit the 3 on a consistent basis like Pierce, Robinson, Allen and Finley have.
JT & Spencer combined for 23pts and 19 rebs in the last game, so with the addition of Landry, we can be competitive at the PF/Center positions. But, the SF has been our black hole for several months, and even though Donte had a respectable game against the Nets, I can’t see anyone stepping up to challenge Pierce. This is a game where we could get beat at all 5 positions and by the bench.
With 6 consecutive quarters of poor shooting from the outside, it’s hard to believe that we’re not going to improve. Although even if we do improve, will it be enough to keep us close. With only one real PG, if Rondo and Robinson can put enough pressure on Beno to make him give up the ball, the offense will stagnate and we could end up shooting 38% from the field again, and the likelihood that the Celtics shoot 38% again is not existent. Let’s hope after the loss to the Nets that the Kings are going to give us their best effort in this game, and that’s the most we can ask.
THE KEY BATTLE
Carl Landry vs. Kevin Garnett. Landry struggled on offense against New Jersey, quite suprisingly. As one of two key scorers for the Kings in the absence of Tyreke Evans, the Kings cannot afford another off-night. Unfortunately, he meets the second best power forward of our time, admittedly past his peak but still world-changing.
Walt Williams is not walking through that door.
A 4:30 PM PT start. Two game threads (4:30, 5:45) and a post-gamer (7:15).