NBA Preview: Celtics Ready to do Damage vs. Nets

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New Jersey Nets (5-9) at Boston Celtics (10-4)
Wednesday, November 24
Game #15, Home Game #7
TV:  CSNNE,  YES, NBA-LP 756/757
Radio  WEEI
TD Garden 
Referees:  Dan Crawford, John Goble,  Haywoode Workman 

This is the first of 4 meetings between these two division rivals. The fortunes of both teams have certainly changed since game 3 of the 2002 ECF when the Celtics orchestrated one of the greatest 4th quarter comebacks in NBA history vs the Nets. Even though most of the faces on the teams have changed, these two teams remain division rivals.

Last season, the Celtics won the series 3‐1 with the Celtics winning both games at New Jersey. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with an average of 20.0 points and shot 60.0% from three‐point range in the 4 games vs the Nets. Rajon Rondo added a double‐double effort with 14.3 points and 11.3 assists to go along with 3.0 steals per game. Brook Lopez led the Nets with an average of 21.3 points while adding 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.

The Nets are playing in the second of back to back games. They pulled off a 107-101 win over the Hawks on Tuesday night but lost their previous 3 games. The Celtics are coming off a  very dominant win over the Hawks but tend to play down to the competition. In spite of their record, the Nets can be a dangerous team if you don't take them seriously. Hopefully the Celtics are still a bit mad about their losses to the Thunder and Raptors and will come into this one focused and put them away early.  

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo.....Ray Allen ..... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett..... ShaquilleO'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Semih Erden
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson (If Rondo can't go, Nate will probably start again)
Von Wafer
Delonte West

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Rajon Rondo (hamstring) day to day

Probable Starters
Devin Harris.....Anthony Morrow.... Travis Outlaw.... Kris Humphries...Brook Lopez

Nets Bench
Derrick Favors
Jordan Farmar
Stephen Graham
Johan Petro
Joe Smith
Ben Uzoh
Damion James
Troy Murphy

Quinton Ross (calf) questionable
Terrence Williams (suspended)  out

Key Matchups
Shaquille O'Neal vs Brook Lopez
One of the very few bright spots for the Nets in recent years has been the play of Brook Lopez, who is averaging 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Shaq's toughness and size will be needed to keep Lopez from having a big game.

  or vs  
Rajon Rondo vs Devin Harris
Rondo has said that he plans to be back for this game but Doc may choose to rest him a bit longer.  Whether it's Rondo or Nate playing the point, the PG matchup will be a key both for keeping the Celtics offense moving and preventing Harris from getting the Nets into their offense.  

Keys to the Game
Play 48 minutes

Focus and Effort
We saw what the Celtics are capable of in the game against the Hawks. This game should be an even more dominant win. But, the Celtics also seem to play down to their competition and lose focus against the weaker teams. If they come out focused and put in the effort,  especially on the defensive end, they win. Simple as that.