Watch It! - Celtics at Spurs
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs meet at 8:30 p.m. tonight at AT&T Center.
Point Guard Matchup
The Celtics typically go into a matchup with the Spurs concerned with Tony Parker, and that’s even when Rajon Rondo is playing. With Rondo still sidelined with a knee injury, that concern will be even higher tonight.
Brad Stevens will have a decision to make as to who he uses to defend Parker. Will it be Boston’s point guard, Jordan Crawford, or will it be Avery Bradley? Our best guess is that it will be Bradley, allowing Crawford to chase Danny Green around screens.
Boston will need Bradley to put forth one of his better defensive efforts of the season tonight. Parker, who leads the Spurs in scoring (16.5 PPG) and assists (6.2 APG), is the head of the snake. If the C’s can cut him off, they’ll be in good shape.
Forget About Last Night
Tuesday night’s loss in Houston was tough. We all know that. The C’s hung with the Rockets throughout the final three quarters but were outscored so badly in the first that the contest was out of hand.
They need to forget about that game as quickly as possible. It’s over and done with. It’s in the past. The task at hand is now playing against San Antonio Spurs, and that’s all that matters.
We’ve all seen what the Celtics can be when they play well. They’ve already beaten the two-time defending champs. All they need to do is return to that type of play while throwing last night’s game out the window.
Let the Spurs be Infectious
The Spurs are tied with the Pacers for the best record in the NBA. They should be the defending champions. Yet they don’t play with a true superstar.
Gregg Popovich instead demands that his team operates as such – a team. The Spurs are the best in the business at playing off of each other, sharing the ball and not having personal agendas. That’s how they’re 9-1 despite not having any players who average more than 18.5 PPG, and only one who averages more than 12.3 PPG.
San Antonio is the best example of what the Celtics need to be. When Boston won four straight games from Nov. 6-11, it played team-oriented basketball. Maybe that Spurs brand of play will become infectious for Boston tonight and get it back on track.
Statement by the Starters
Boston’s starters were drastically outplayed last night by Houston’s starters. The plus/minus numbers are indicative of such, as all five C’s starters finished with a rating of minus-19 or worse. That group combined to log just 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists during the loss.
The Celtics starters need to make a statement tonight that Tuesday’s performance was a fluke. For the most part, the numbers already tell us that. They’ve played well this season and have been pretty consistent. It’s on them to get back to that consistency tonight in San Antonio.
Tonight’s game may be decided by Boston’s ability to defend as a team. The C’s will need great individual defensive performances against Parker and Tim Duncan, but their team defense is even more critical.
San Antonio is tied for sixth in the NBA in assists with an average of 23.8 per game. As stated earlier, the Spurs aren’t going to beat you on an individual basis. Instead, they’ll beat you as a team.
The only way to defend an offense like that is to play defense as a team as well. The C’s will need to communicate well at the defensive end and be there to help each other out at all times.