at Boston Celtics (51-22) at San Antonio Spurs (57-17)
Thursday, March 31
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #74, Road Game #37
TV: TNT, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, WOAI
AT&T Center Probable Starters PGSGSFPFC
PG: Rajon Rondo 10.4 PPG 11.3 APG 2.3 SPG
SG: Ray Allen 17.0 PPG 2.7 APG .452 3P%
SF: Paul Pierce 18.7 PPG 5.1 RPG 3.3 APG
PF: Kevin Garnett 14.7 PPG 9.0 RPG 0.8 BPG
C: Nenad Krstic 8.2 PPG 4.8 RPG 0.3 BPGBoston Bench Mob
Jermaine O'Neal Injured
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Von Wafer (calf) questionable
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) probable
Troy Murphy (ankle) questionable Probable Starters PG SG SF PF C
PG: Tony Parker 17.5 PPG 6.6 APG 1.2 SPG
SG: James Anderson 3.7 PPG 0.8 APG .447 3P%
SF: Richard Jefferson 11.1 PPG 3.9 RPG 1.3 APG
PF: Tiago Splitter 4.6 PPG 3.3 RPG 0.3 BPG
C: Antonio McDyess 5.2 PPG 5.3 RPG 0.5 BPG Reserves
Antonio McDyess (back) probable
Tony Parker (knee) probable
Tim Duncan (ankle) possible
Manu Ginobili (thigh) possible Team Connections
Doc Rivers played for San Antonio during the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.
Assistant Coach Roy Rodgers and Antonio McDyess both attended Alabama
Chris Quinn and Troy Murphy both attended Notre Dame
Doc Rivers and Steve Novak both attended Marquette University
Nenad Krstic and Richard Jefferson were teammates on the New Jersey Nets from 2004‐08Game Notes
The Spurs went most of the season without any injuries to any of their starters while the Celtics have battle injuries all year long. The injury bug has finally caught up to the Spurs and in their last game, a home loss to Portland on Tuesday, they played without 4 of their starters.
For this game Duncan and Ginobili are both projected to be out. Tony Parker is listed as questionable and Antonio McDyess is expected back in the starting lineup. The Celtics may get a long awaited boost as Jermaine O'Neal has targeted this game for his return to the court. He is said to be looking good, but there's bound to be a lot of rust. I'll update the lineups if there are any changes between now and then.
The Celtics are up 1-0 in the series after a 2 point win in the Garden back in January. Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points and 8 rebounds in that one. The Spurs have lost 4 in a row for the first time this season and will be motivated to end that streak in this game.
Both teams are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are 22-14 on the road while the Spurs are 33-4 at home. The Celtics are looking to end their losing streak at 1 while the Spurs are hoping that theirs will end at 4. The Spurs are getting their first taste of playing through injures, something the Celtics have been doing all season.
The Celtics have been struggling and have lost to several teams recently that they should have beat. They have also struggled to beat contending teams who are playing without star players. Hopefully an extra day of practice between games will help them find their way back to ubuntu and to winning. Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs George Hill
After missing a game and being originally counted out for the second game, Rajon Rondo made a surprise start and showed some signs of snapping out of his slump. The Celtics need him to continue to play well and be aggressive in leading the offense. On the other side, Tony Parker was a late scratch from the Spurs last game and is considered questionable for this game.
Paul Pierce vs Richard Jefferson
This matchup has been a good one going back to Jefferson's days on the Nets. With the injury bug finally hitting the Spurs, Jefferson was the only regular starter to play in the Spurs last game. Pierce had a good game vs the Pacers and hopefully that will continue in this game as well. Keys to the Game Defense
- The Celtics must make defense a priority in this game and every game. The Spurs are having one of their best offensive seasons in franchise history and the Celtics will need to play defense for 48 minutes and not just in spurts as they have been doing recently. The Celtics especially need to guard the perimeter as the Spurs are shooting .402 from beyond the arc as a team, which is tops in the league. Focus
The Spurs are very capable of taking advantage of any lack of focus on the Celtics part, even missing some of their key players. The Celtics have to come out strong and they have to stay focused until the end of the game. The Spurs won't let up and neither can the Celtics if they want to win this one. Keeping their focus also includes taking care of the ball and not committing unforced turnovers. The Celtics also can't get complacent if they have a lead. The Spurs have won 11 games this season in which they came back from a double digit deficit.
The Spurs are a good rebounding team and the Celtics need to concentrate on crashing the boards. The Celtics have not been rebounding as well as they should. The Pacers out rebounded the Celtics 36-29. The Celtics must crash the boards and keep the Spurs from getting second chance points, which they do very well. Be Aggressive
When the Celtics are aggressive in going after loose balls, taking the ball to the hoop and playing in your face defense, they are very tough to beat. When they get lazy and allow teams to beat them to loose balls and rebounds and when they settle for jumpers and don't go to the basket, they are very beatable. They must stay aggressive. Ubuntu
- The Celtics have gotten away from playing team ball in recent games. They have been playing too much one on one and not moving the ball and making the extra pass to find the open man. The Celtics have to get back to the principles of ubuntu and playing together as a team. X-Factor
The Celtics have been going through some tough times in recent games and they will need a lot of mental toughness to get back to winning as a team.