Fresh off of an uneven win over the Charlotte Bobcats (when Kwame “Hands Of Stone” Brown has given you 27 minutes, you’re in trouble, Jack), the L.A. Clippers roll into Boston’s TD Garden at 7:30 PM ST. Boston is leading the East at 46-15 and second to only the Spurs league wide while the Clippers, at 24-40, are trying to cobble together a few wins to end the seaon on an upswing (Eric Gordon needs the Wolverine-adamantium-bone treatment; his wrists aren’t the business). Here are the key points I’m watching tonight as the Celts and Clips square off:
- Blake vs The Big Ticket – Max motor up against Intensity supreme. This feels like a struggle for the torch of dominant power forward. Can KG’s yapping unflap the unflappable rookie?
- Celts’ Eco-Friendly – Getting Jeff Green (10 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 56% from the floor but only 25% from 3) comfortable and into a groove is vital to the C’s championship hopes. Nenad Krstic and Green are combining for 22.2 ppg and 6.4 rpg in 47.4 mpg on over 55% shooting. Green’s versatility and Krstic’s jump-shooting, combined with KG’s inside-outside game, will be a handful for the LAC bigs.
- Fierce Pierce – Paul Pierce is a prototypical small forward; he scores from the post and perimeter, he rebounds, and plays capable D. Ryan Gomes is a physical defender, but I’m leery of the Clips ability to control the Truth. Aminu would be chum in the water; look for Jamario Moon to get a shot at stopping PP.
- Rip-Roaring Rondo – He can’t shoot. His free throws are abysmal. But he’s so fast. How can the Clippers porous D slow down the best creator in the game? Rondo hasnt exactly torched the Clips (since ’09 he’s averaging 13.75 ppg an 8 apg against us), butMo Williams and “stopper” will never be mentioned in the same sentence. On a positive note, I’m giddy at the idea of seeing Rondo and speedster Eric Bledsoe try to outquick each other.
- D! Fence! – The Clippers are 19th in the league at ppg/against (101.5 ppg) and offensive rating (109.1 pts/100 possessions). The Celtics, during their current 5 game winning streak, are scoring 105 ppg, with Paul Pierce going for 22.2 a night during the streak. THe Clip Show MUST tighten down the defensive screws to have a shot tonight.
- The Walking Wounded – The Celts are missing a line-up that would rival the Cavs in a 7 game series- Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, Glen Davis, Von Wafer, and Delonte West are all out. The Clippers are missing even a bigger chunk; Eric Gordon’ absence is huge.