Celtics Take on Nets in Matinee Game

Boston Celtics (15-4) at New Jersey Nets (6-14)
Sunday, December 5
1:00 PM ET
Game #20,  Road Game #10
TV:  CSNNE, YES, NBA-LP 751/752
Radio:  WEEI
Prudential Center

Referees:  Joey Crawford (UGH!), Josh Tiven, Sean Wright 

This is the second meeting between these two division rivals.  In the first meeting between them, the Celtics  lost Delonte West when he came down hard after a dunk and broke his wrist.  The Celtics won that game 89-83 but losing Delonte was a big blow to the team. 

This is the second afternoon game for the Celtics this season.   Their only other matinee game was in Toronto and the Celtics came out flat and they ended up losing the game 101-102.  The Celtics haven't lost since and hopefully they will fare better in this early game than they did in that one.

The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 6-3 on the road while the Nets are 2-8 in their last 10 games and 4-5 at home.  The Celtics have won their last 6 games while the Nets have lost their last 3.    In spite of their record, the Celtics can't afford to take this team lightly.  One of the Nets' 12 wins last season came at the expense of the Celtics and they are capable of beating any team that underestimates them.  

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo.....Ray Allen ..... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett..... ShaquilleO'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Semih Erden
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist)  out
Rajon Rondo (hamstring, foot) probable
Nate Robinson (foot)  probable

Probable Starters
Devin Harris.....Anthony Morrow.... Travis Outlaw.... Kris Humphries...Brook Lopez

Nets Bench
Derrick Favors
Jordan Farmar
Stephen Graham
Johan Petro
Joe Smith
Ben Uzoh
Damion James
Troy Murphy
Quentin Ross

Devin Harris (knee)  probable

Terrence Williams

Key Matchups
Shaquille O'Neal vs Brook Lopez
One of the very few bright spots for the Nets in recent years has been the play of Brook Lopez, who is averaging 19.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.  Shaq has been rejuvenated and his size and toughness will be needed to limit Lopez's effectiveness in this game. 

Rajon Rondo vs Devin Harris
Devin Harris missed the last two games for the Nets with a knee injury but is expected to be back for this game.  Rajon Rondo has been playing with a sore hamstring as well as plantar fasciitis.   Rondo is key to the Celtics attack and hopefully he can once again tough it out through his nagging injuries.   
Keys to the Game
Focus- The Celtics tend to play down to their competition and the Nets have proved that if you underestimate them, they will make you pay.   Also, the Celtics have traditionally had trouble with focus and intensity in afternoon games.  The Celtics must come out focused and keep that focus for 48 minutes if they want to win this game. 

Defense-  Defense is a key to every single game this season.  The Celtics have to make defense their number 1 priority.  They have shown that their defense keys their offense.  They have to make an effort to play 48 minutes of defense and not just turn it on in spurts. 

Rebound -Winning the rebounding battle is essential to a victory.    When the Celtics lack effort on the boards, that lack of effort affects the other areas of their game as well.  The team that wins the battle of the boards will usually be the team that wins. 

Go to the Hoop-
During their win streak, the Celtics have held big advantages in points in the paint.   The Celtics must continue to attack the basket and not just settle for outside shots. 

Afternoon Blues
The Celtics usually struggle in afternoon games.   This was a problem all last season and they have already lost one matinee game this season.  Hopefully they can turn that trend around and come out with a strong game and pull out the win.