at Boston Celtics (51-18) at San Antonio Spurs (45-22)
Friday, March 20
8:30 PM ET
Game #70, Road Game #36
TV: NBA TV, FSN SW, CSN HD
AT&T Center Home of the San Antonio Spurs, the AT&T Center is one of newest and most modern arenas in the NBA today. The history of the Spurs dates back to 1973 when the team was part of the ABA and played at the HemisFair Arena. For two decades the Spurs at this 16,000 seat arena that was known as the loudest arena in the NBA. In 1993 the Spurs moved to the newly constructed Alamodome.
This dome stadium, built primarily in hopes that the city would get a NFL franchise was an upgrade from the HemisFair Arena for the Spurs. At the Alamdome the Spurs attracted some of the biggest crowds in the NBA as the seating for basketball games could be expanded up to 39,500. Because the Alamodome was so large and the sightlines were not the best, the Spurs began to pursue a new arena in the mid to late 1990s. In 1999 voters approved an increase in car rental and hotel taxes to finance the construction of a new arena. The Spurs contributed $28.5 million and 50% of the funding came from private contributors.
Constructed on the east side of the city, the arena was originally known as the SBC Center after SBC Communications bought the naming rights for $41 million over 20 years. In 2006 the building was renamed the AT&T Center after AT&T acquired SBC Communications. The Spurs played their first game at the AT&T Center on October 18, 2002.
Coach: Doc Rivers
Average Age: 26.6
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 222Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo/Stephon Marbury/Paul Pierce/Glen Davis/Kendrick Perkins Doc had originally stated that KG would return in this game and he will accompany the team on the trip.He has since backed off saying that he didn't think he would play. I am guessing that KG will talk his way into this game, practice or no practice. Ray Allen is day to day and may play in this game or may get another to rest his elbow while Marbury picks up more experience.
Mikki Moore Injuries:
Brian Scalabrine (Concussion) out
Tony Allen (thumb) out
Leon Powe (knee) out
Kevin Garnett (day to day)
Ray Allen (day to day)
Rajon Rondo (ankle) probable
Glen Davis (ankle, hand) probable Coach: Gregg Popovich
Average Age: 29.6
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 217 Probable Starters
Tony Parker/Roger Mason/Michael Finley/Tim Duncan/Matt Bonner The Spurs have their starting lineup in place and healthy for the stretch run. They are looking toward the playoffs as Tim Duncan sat out their win over the Wolves on Tuesday with an eye toward resting him for the playoffs by resting him in the second of back to back games. Reserves
Ian Mahinmi (Ankle) out
Manu Ginobili (fibula) questionableKey Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Tony Parker
Rondo has been compared to Parker by several writers but Parker has much more experience to draw on than Rondo does at this point in their careers. Still, when Rondo is aggressive and focused, he can pretty much take on any point guard in the league, including Parker. Rondo got the slight edge on Parker in their first matchup with 6 points, 16 assists and 5 rebound to 7 points 7 assists and 5 rebounds for Parker. The Spurs however, got the win.
Kevin Garnett vs Tim Duncan
This is a matchup of the two best power forwards in the league. Duncan sat out the Spurs last game with an eye toward resting up for the playoffs. Doc has waffled on his statement that KG will play in this one but I have to feel that if he is cleared by the medical staff and accompanies the team on the trip, he will talk his way into this game. We should expect some rust, though KG played Duncan fairly even in their first matchup, Duncan may have it much easier in this one. Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Matt Bonner
Bonner torched the Celtics for 23 points, most from the outside in their first meeting. Perk will have to figure out how to stop him from once again taking over from the perimeter.
Doc Rivers played for the Spurs from '94-96
Kurt Thomas and Eddie House were teammates on the Suns
Jacques Vaughn and Brian Scalabrine were teammates in New Jersey
Jacques Vaughn played for Doc in Orlando
Tim Duncan was the prize in the 1997 draft and the Celtics had the best chance of landing him but ended up with the 3rd and 6th picks instead.
This is the second and final regular season meeting between these two teams. Last season the Celtics swept the Spurs for the first time since the 1988-89 season. The Spurs beat the Celtics 105-99 earlier this season and that was with Ray and KG both in the lineup and only Scal out with an injury. With the Celtics depleted and rusty lineup, this could be a tough one.
The Celtics are clinging to 2nd place in the east with a mere 1/2 game lead on Orlando who are idle on Friday. The Spurs have a slightly firmer hold on 2nd place in the West, 8 games behind the Lakers and 1.5 games ahead of the Rockets who are once again playing without McGrady.
Until March 17, 2007, the Celtics had an 18 game losing streak against the Spurs. Until that Celtic victory, Paul Pierce had never beaten the Spurs and Tim Duncan had never lost to the Celtics. The Spurs hold a 39-34 edge in all time wins between the two teams and the Spurs hold a 19-17 edge on their home court.
Ray may or may not play in this one but he did travel with the team so it is possible that he could play. Manu Ginobili is questionable for this one as well with a stress reaction in his fibula. Keys to the Game Defense
The Celtics defense has been slipping considerably as of late. The Spurs are a tough team with good outside shooters (They shoot 40% from beyond the arc which is first in the league). They are also tough inside with Parker who can drive to the hoop and Duncan who is very tough to stop in the paint. The Celtics must find their defensive intensity or this could be an ugly game. Ball Movement
- The Celtics have let their offense get stagnant at times and let the ball stop moving. At times players have tried to do it themselves, taking quick shots, rather than playing the team game that makes them so tough to stop. They will need to move the ball and find the open man. They also need to get the ball up the court quickly instead of walking it up because if they let the Spurs defense get set, they will find it difficult to get past it. Rebound
The Celtics need to be aggressive on the boards to prevent second chance points by the Spurs. They also need to work the offensive boards so as not to be one shot and done. Sense of Urgency
This game is much more crucial for the Celtics to win than it is for the Spurs. Let's hope the Celts come out with a sense of urgency and play hard from start to finish. They can't afford haphazard efforts like they have submitted against their opponents recently. If the Celtics come out with a sense of urgency from the beginning and play hard, they have a chance in this one, even with all the injuries. X-Factor
Injuries and Rust
The Celtics have been decimated by injuries of late and they still have key players out of the lineup. Even if KG returns, he will be rusty and won't be the same as he was before the inury in his first game back. Against a top team like the Spurs close to full strength, the injuries may just be too much to overcome.