Watch It! - Celtics at Clippers

Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers meet at 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon at the STAPLES Center.

Frontline Athleticism

Monday’s Celtics-Clippers contest will feature a very interesting matchup along the frontline. Both starting frontlines are very capable, but they are also very different.

Boston’s starting frontline is stuffed with basketball players. There is nothing that these guys do great, but they do everything well. Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller are all capable of making contributions across the board with their fine-tuned skills and craftiness.

Such is far different than the trio of Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Why are these guys so great as a group? Because they’re all elite athletes. Barnes, Griffin and Jordan don’t need to rely on being crafty or playing with a high level of skill to get by. Their athleticism gives them an advantage over nearly every frontline in the NBA.

There’s no doubt that L.A. will again have that advantage on Monday. The question is whether or not Boston’s basketball players can keep up with the Clippers’ athletes.

First Night for the New Fellas

Trade deadline? Who needs the trade deadline! Danny Ainge and his staff have been hard at work this month, pulling off four trades in a seven-day span.

Those trades landed two new players on Boston’s roster. Tayshaun Prince came over from Memphis and Shavlik Randolph was acquired from Phoenix. Prince and Randolph joined the Celtics in Los Angeles and could be available to play on Monday.

It is not an easy task to sprinkle new players into a rotation, as Brad Stevens knows well following December’s Rajon Rondo trade. Should Prince and Randolph be available on Monday, the Celtics will stare down that challenge yet again.

Rotational Trend

Los Angeles is due for a loss. That is not because it is in the midst of a long winning streak, but more so because of a trend that has been building for more than a week.

The Clippers have rotated wins and losses over their past five games. Beginning Jan. 10 with a win over the Mavs, L.A. went W, L, W, L, W. It’s most recent victory arrived Saturday night, with a 117-108 triumph over the Kings.

There is no guarantee that this recent trend will continue for the Clippers when they take on the Celtics on Monday. However, five games is a long enough sample size to see that L.A. hasn’t been able to bring it’s A-game on consecutive nights of late.

Be in Position and Contest

When you think of the Clippers, you think of Lob City. Dunks, alley-oops and interior scoring.

Here’s one word for you: façade.

Los Angeles is not the interior scoring team that everyone believes it is. The Clippers are actually the third-word team in the league when it comes to scoring in the paint. Their average of 36.2 points in the paint per game ranks ahead of only Miami (35.8) and New York (32.4).

So how are the Clippers still fifth in the league in scoring? Their jump shooting.

Los Angeles has attempted 22.3 percent of its shots from the deep midrange this season. Another 32.3 percent of the team’s shots have been from long range. With that in mind, the Celtics need to be in position to defend and challenge those jump shots for 48 minutes.

A Night for the Backup Guards

One of the aforementioned trades that Boston recently made was sending Austin Rivers to L.A. to play for his father, Doc. Doc has since stated that he made that trade not because of family ties, but rather because of team needs.

Los Angeles is thin in the backcourt. There’s no doubt about that. Austin joins the Clippers and immediately slots in as their backup point guard. The only other player on the team who is capable of playing point guard is Jamal Crawford, but his role is to score points off of the bench, not to distribute.

It’s not a secret that Austin has struggled during his young career. There’s a reason why New Orleans gave up on him and the Celtics opted to trade him away. Additionally, Crawford is a poor defender and Dahntay Jones just signed with Los Angeles.

This is a perfect night for the likes of Marcus Smart and Marcus Thornton to take advantage of L.A.’s backcourt deficiencies. Neither has logged a true game-changing performance of late. Monday could be the day to change that.

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