atCleveland Cavaliers (60-16) at Boston Celtics (47-28)
Sunday, April 4
1:00 PM ET
Game #76, Home Game #39
Radio: WEEI, WTAM, ESPNR
TD GardenProbable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Mo WilliamsShooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Anthony Parker Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison Center
Kendrick Perkins vs JJ Hickson Reserves
Marquis Daniels Injuries
Marcus Landry Reserves
zydrunas Ilgauskas Injuries
Sebastian Telfair (groin) out
Shaquille O'Neal (thumb) out
Anderson Varejao (hamstring) questionable Team Connections
Leon Powe and Delonte West are former Celtics
West was drafted by the Celtics with the 24th overall pick in the 2004
Powe played for the Celtics from 2006-09
Daniel Green, Jawad Williams, Antawn Jamison, and Rasheed Wallace are former North Carolina Tar Heels
Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis both attended Louisiana State
Antawn Jamison and Michael Finley were teammates in Dallas during the 2003-04 season.Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams
Mo Williams is capable of putting up big numbers and Rondo will need to keep his defensive focus to keep Mo in check. Rondo needs to especially stay with Mo on the perimeter. He also needs to keep up his aggressiveness on offense if the Celtics have any chance of winning this.
LeBron is always a tough matchup for every team. In the past Pierce has looked forward to the challenge of defending him and has been up to the task. We can only hope for a classic Pierce performance in this one on the defensive end to try to contain LeBron. We all know that LeBron doesn't commit fouls so Pierce will be at a disadvantage but he can't let that distract him. He has to keep his focus in spite of the hacking, shoving and pushing that doesn't get called. Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison
After a very rocky start on his new team, Jamison has settled down and is playing well. KG needs to get back to playing the in your face team defense that the Celtics have hung their hats on. KG must set the tone for the defense. Game Notes
The Cavaliers are currently leading the season series 2-1; Celtics and Cavaliers split season series 2-2 during 2008-09 season
Paul Pierce is currently leading the C’s with an average of 20.5 points per game this season against Cleveland
LeBron James is averaging 34.7 points per game against the C’s this season
Celtics are 7-13 against Cleveland since the 2004-05 season
The Celtics are leading the all-time series 110-67 with the Celtics 67-20 at home
The Celtics only win against the Cavs this season came on opening night. At that time, the sky was the limit for this Celtics team and then the injuries started to hit and the Celtics fell apart while the Cavs have continued to build. The Celtics have lost 3 games in a row, all at home, while the Cavs have won their last 3.
The Cavaliers, who are only the ninth franchise in league history to post consecutive 60-win seasons, can clinch home-court advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Celtics in this game. The Celtics are locked in a battle with the Atlanta Hawks for the 3rd seed. The Celtics are a game and a half behind the Hawks with their win over Detroit on Saturday night. They wasted a good chance to pull even when the Hawks lost to the Cavs on Friday and the Celtics put out a lackluster effort against the feisty Rockets and lost. The Celtics need this win to avoid falling 2 games back of that 3rd spot.
With a Cavaliers win or a Lakers loss, the Cavs would become the first team to have the league's best record in 2 consecutive years since Chicago did it in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. The Cavs can't afford to let up or become over confident, as their loss in the conference finals last season proved.
Anderson Varejao, who gave the Celtics a lot of problems in their last two meetings has missed his last 3 games with a sore hamstring. He is listed as questionable for this game and the Cavs have said that he won't play. But, as has been most of the season, players always seem to have miraculous healings and come back for the games against the Celtics. I'll count him out when I see him on the bench in street clothes. Keys to the Game
1 Defense Defense Defense
-Defense wins games and it wins championships. The Celtics have allowed their last 3 opponents to shoot over 50% and unless they get back to playing team defense and get stops instead of trying to outscore the other team.
2. Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have to be focused from the tip off until the end of the game. They can't afford to come out flat or lose their focus for any period against a team like the Cavs or they will take full advantage of it.
- The Celtics have to improve their rebounding. When opponents get offensive rebounds, the Celtics give up second chance points and LeBron is one of the best in the league at getting tip ins and put backs. When opponents get defensive rebounds it keys their fast break for easy baskets at the other end. The Celtics have got to box out and to fight for rebounds and not allow the Cavs to beat them to them. X-Factors
Officials and Focus
We know that the Cavs will get the majority of the calls and the Celtics need to focus on their game, especially on the defensive end and not let the bad calls and no calls ruin their focus. They have to know that the bad calls are coming and just play through them. The Bucks almost beat them in spite of a 45-9 free throw disparity and the Celtics have to know that they won't get the calls and they can't let the refs be an excuse.