Watch It! - Warriors at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
Positive Additions for Boston
Tonight’s version of the Celtics will look very different compared to the one that faced the Warriors on Jan. 10. On that night, Boston’s starting backcourt consisted of Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley. The duo combined for 17 points, five rebounds and 11 assists.
Boston’s starting point guard tonight will be four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo. It’s not a stretch to say that he could match or surpass Crawford and Bradley’s totals all by himself. Additionally, the C’s are likely to start Jerryd Bayless, who has averaged 17.3 points per game over his last four contests, at shooting guard.
The Celtics will also look very different tonight compared to the team that took the floor Saturday night against Indiana. Jared Sullinger came off the bench and Kelly Olynyk didn’t play during their 102-97 loss to the Pacers. Sullinger may return to the starting lineup tonight and Olynyk should make his return from a two-game absence.
Warriors Fighting for Position
Mark Jackson and the Warriors had been under a lot of fire heading into the All-Star break. Their owners and general managers went all in this past offseason by acquiring Andre Iguodala with the intent of winning now, but the team hadn’t been living up to expectations.
Golden State headed into the All-Star break with a 31-22 record, which left it in seventh place in the Western Conference. Maybe all the team needed was a little break in the action, because it has been fantastic since its time off.
Jackson’s squad has gone 6-2 since the All-Star break including a win over the league’s best team, the Pacers, last night. Three of those six wins have come against teams that are currently slated to be in the playoffs. The Warriors are now 13 games over the .500 mark and are within striking distance of the third seed in the West.
The Warriors are coming off of what may be their biggest and most emotional win of the season last night. They dealt the Pacers just their fourth home loss of the season, and it came down to the wire.
Indiana trailed by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter but made a furious run to tie things up at 94-94. The teams then traded baskets before Klay Thompson drilled a game-winning jumper with less than a second remaining.
That ending, which was on the road and against the best team in the league, left Golden State with an emotional high. One of the most difficult challenges in the NBA is to play well the night after hitting an emotional high. The Warriors will try to do that tonight against a Celtics team that has lost six of its last seven games.
Defending the 3
Don’t let Golden State’s fifth-ranked 3-point shooting percentage fool you. Many would call the Warriors the most dangerous 3-point shooting team in the league.
Golden State has four key rotational players who shoot better than 40 percent from long range. Steve Blake leads the way with his 44.4 percent conversion rate, while Stephen Curry (41.6 percent), Harrison Barnes (40.8 percent) and Thompson (40.7 percent) tail slightly behind.
These numbers are a clear indication that Boston must be dialed in with its perimeter defense tonight. The Celtics have allowed their last three opponents to shoot an average of 40.8 percent from downtown. Allowing a number in that range tonight may deal them a loss.
Green Facing the Elite
Jeff Green is on a hot streak right now. He has averaged 22 PPG over his last six contests and is coming off of a 27-point outing against Indiana on Saturday.
Green’s performance on Saturday just so happened to be against one of the league’s elite defenders in Paul George. Green shot 10-for-22 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line during that game.
There will be another top-flight defender on the other side of the ball from Green tonight. Iguodala was signed by the Warriors to be their defensive stopper. He has been excellent in defending the pick-and-roll and has been a strong individual defender as well.
Slowing down Green will be a heck of a challenge for Iguodala and the Warriors. Boston’s starting small forward has been fantastic of late and he seems to take his game to another level when he plays against the league’s best.