The Celtics are 2nd in the East behind Miami, but only by a few percentage points. They’re 28-9 and 16-3 in the Garden, but they’re only 5-5 in the last 10 and have lost their last 2 to the Bulls and Rockets. Kevin Garnett has been out since Dec. 29th and isn’t expected to play Wednesday against the Kings. Glen Davis is starting at PF, with Shaq at Center, Paul Pierce at SF, Ray Allen at SG and Rondo at the Point. Marquis Daniels, Germaine O’Neal, Nate Robinson and Luke Harangody are the main reserves.
From beyond the arc, Allen and Pierce are still the guys you can’t leave open. Robinson still puts up a lot of 3’s but he’s no Eddie House although he does average 36%. For January, the Celtics are only averaging 6-13 from 3pt range, so unless we leave them open this doesn’t look to be a 3pt shooting contest. Shaq isn’t the player that he once was, and that’s evident by Boston’s last place ranking in Offensive Rebounding although they are a top 10 defensive rebounding team. But, Shaq is only 5th in defensive rebounding on the team, and only averages 9.9 ppg. Garnett had been the leading rebounder at 9.5 per game, but in his absence no one has picked up the slack.
With Rondo averaging over 13 assists per game and half of them at the rim, Boston leads the league in Made Baskets at the Rim, and in FG% at the rim. Because they are so good at getting to the rim, they are last in Made Baskets inside 10ft. But, they still shot above the league average from that range, and over half of the made baskets are assisted which ranks them 3rd in the league in assists inside 10 ft. They are also 1st in FG% on mid-range jumpers, 7th in FG% from long 2’s, and 7th in FG% from 3pt range.
Boston ranks 2nd in defensive efficiency, but surprisingly have a higher turnover rate than the Kings. They’re below average in blocks but are 7th in steals. The Kings have the advantage on the offensive boards, and are one of the top teams in 2nd chance points which is the only way we can be at all competitive since were 2nd to last in TS%.
Really, there’s not a lot more to say, other than with only one of the Big Four expected to miss the game and with Tyreke not expected to play until Friday, the Kings winning this game would be the upset of the year. Our defense on this road trip has been abysmal. We haven’t been able or willing to stop penetration into the paint, we’ve left great shooters wide open beyond the arc, and still have no clue on how to defend off of screens and picks. I think we can compete down low. But without someone like Rondo to create easy baskets in the paint, we’re going to lose that battle baring some outstanding defensive performance. We haven’t had a lot of luck against many teams but especially teams that shot at a high percentage and that pretty much describes Boston.
With Tyreke out, I found it strange that PW choose to start Luther over Pooh, and didn’t play Donte all that much. Taylor did a decent job but I would have liked to see Garcia start at the 2 and Omri start at the 3 with Taylor and Donte coming off the bench. I think Allen and Pierce will posse a big problem for whoever PW plays at the 2 or 3. Beno and Pooh vs Rondo and Nate should be a couple of interesting matchups. In fact, all the matchups will be interesting, and probably the best reason to watch this game. I suggest you pick your favorite, and watch them for the entire game. Rooting for your favorite player may be more rewarding then rooting for the Kings. Go Sacramento!