Game Preview: Celtics at Bobcats
BOSTON – Two days removed from a tough loss in Oklahoma City, the Boston Celtics (34-28) are in Charlotte to take on the Bobcats (13-50) at 7 p.m. tonight.
These two teams will meet twice in a five-day span this week. They will face off tonight in Time Warner Cable Arena and then will meet again this weekend during a rare Saturday night game at TD Garden.
Neither of these two games will be of great importance to the Bobcats, who are lottery-bound yet again. On the other hand, these contests will be critical to a Boston team that is fighting for playoff positioning.
The Celtics enter Tuesday’s game as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They have the same record as the seventh-seeded Hawks but own the tie-breaker due to Boston’s advantage in head-to-head meetings. Boston has the potential to move into one of the top four seeds in the East if it can finish off the final 20 games of the regular season in style.
In order to accomplish such a feat, Boston must win games like the one they’ll play in tonight. Charlotte is by far the worst team in the league when it comes to its record. The Bobcats’ 13 wins are five less than the league’s next-worst team, the Orlando Magic. However, Charlotte’s terrible record didn’t prevent the team from taking down the Celtics last month.
Boston met Charlotte on Feb. 11 in Time Warner Cable Arena and wound up falling 94-91 in a game that was close throughout. Neither team led by double-digits at any stage of that contest but the Bobcats used a 33-point outburst in the third quarter to drive them to a win.
The loss in Charlotte was a tough pill to swallow for the Celtics but it did not come as a total surprise. They had played in a triple-overtime thriller against the Nuggets the previous night in Boston. The C’s won that game 118-114, but five of their players, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, logged at least 41 minutes of action.
By the time Boston took the court the next night in Charlotte, the team’s legs were far from fresh. Still, the Celtics hung tough with the Bobcats and fell by only three points.
Charlotte would be wise to expect a different Celtics team tonight. The C’s rested on Monday following a loss Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City. More than 48 hours will have passed without game action by the time Boston takes the court tonight.
That rest should have the Celtics primed and ready to take down a team that they should undoubtedly defeat. It’s games like these that Boston must win during its playoff push.
KG Should be Fired Up
The last time these teams met, Kevin Garnett spent the majority of his 28 minutes and 49 seconds of playing time facing off with Byron Mullens. Garnett finished the game with 16 points and 13 rebounds, a more than modest performance, but Mullens was by far the player of the game.
Mullens, a fourth-year big man out of Ohio State, dropped game highs of 25 points and 18 rebounds on KG and the Celtics. He shot 10-of-16 from the field and made four of his five 3-pointers.
Mullens outplayed Garnett in that game and KG can’t be happy about that. The Big Ticket should be fired up tonight to prove to Mullens that their Feb. 11 matchup was a fluke.
Continue Their Streak
Nothing has been pretty for the Bobcats this season, but life has been particularly brutal for them of late. Charlotte has lost its last 10 games by an average of 21.5 points per game. Three losses during that span were by at least 30 points.
If that’s not a bad streak in the NBA, we’re not sure what is. The Bobcats are as ice cold as the Heat are red hot, and Boston will aim to prolong Charlotte’s cold streak tonight.
Get the Offense Back on Track
The Celtics dealt with one of their worst shooting performances of the season Sunday afternoon when they made just 37.7 percent of their shots. That was slightly better than their season-low performance of 36.0 percent on Dec. 29 in Golden State.
Poor shooting is atypical of this Celtics team. It ranks ninth in the league in field goal percentage at 45.9 percent and that number has been steadily climbing over the past couple of months. Boston will have a great opportunity to get back on track tonight, seeing as the Bobcats rank 28th in the league in both opponent scoring (103.5 PPG) and opponent field goal percentage (47.1 percent).