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Lets Make like Caesar and Conquer the Celts
Matchup: Hornets(12-6) @ Celtics(21-2)
Off Efficiency: Hornets 108.5(4th), Celtics 106.9(7th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 103.0(12th), Celtics 95.4(1st)
Tonight the Hornets play the Boston Celtics, defending champions, 21-2 record, and owners of a 13 game winning streak. During that streak, there has been one resounding truth about them: when they were playing good teams like Orlando, Portland, Detroit, and Philadelphia(sorta), they came out intent and bury them. None of those teams lost by less than 15 points. The only games that were close were teams that could catch fire shooting and the Celtics took lightly: Golden State, Indiana, and Milwaukee. These Celtics are an intense team. They dominate through a stifling defense and an almost feral focus, spurred on by Garnett and his bulging eyes.
You know me, and you know how I’m a history buff, and this time the historical quote that came to mind when I thought of Garnett and the Celtics was this:
“The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”
– Genghis Khan
Now, of course that’s a bit overblown, but it’s not really off-point. The Celtics want to crush their good opponents and steal their horses and women. The Hornets are going to have to come out strong and focused themselves to pull this one out. I mean, you gotta keep your horses. (I kid. Please don’t hurt me, ladies.)
Hornets: Sean Mark’s pride after those two rejected dunks last game.
PG: Rajon Rondo v Chris Paul
This season, behind Chris Paul, my favorite point guards to watch are Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. Rondo is, quite frankly, a freak. He’s built a bit like a spider, all long arms and legs, but he’s got a lot of control, has a good offensive game going to the basket, and is almost definitely the best defensive point guard in the league. He also really likes to go at Paul, judging by last year. It’ll be a fascinating matchup.
SG: Ray Allen v Rasual Butler
Allen is having a bit of a renaissance this year, as his shooting is back to deadly levels after a little slippage last year. Butler’s great man defense is going to be tested, and we’ll probably see Allen nail a few open shots off of curls as Butler is screened by the bony arms of Kevin Garnett.
SF: Paul Pierce v Peja Stojakovic
Pierce is having a down year, with career lows in shooting percentage. Peja is on a hot-streak, burning up the nets. For those two reasons, I almost called this even for this game, but Pierce’s all-around game is too hard to ignore. (And before you get snippy, I know Pierce is a lot better overall, but this is based on how they are playing right now.)
PF: Kevin Garnett v David West
Anyone who claims that Kevin Garnett is a “Post Player” clearly hasn’t watched him play in the past couple years. Garnett will only go into the post a few times a game now, unleashing his rocker move for fadeaways and short jumpers, but mostly he hovers out at about 19 to 20 feet, draining jumpers at an uncanny rate. If he and West were in a mid-range shooting contest, I think Garnett would give West a run for his money. I rate West below Garnett because of Garnett’s defense, which is demonstrative to the point of lame, but extremely effective.
C: Kendrick Perkins v Tyson Chandler
Their numbers aren’t far different. Perkins is a sound defender, can finish around the basket, and is a fine rebounder. Tyson is much better at all of those things, but hasn’t shown them consistently yet this season. Hopefully he follows his last strong performance with another one.
The Celts have a nice bench. Eddie House is a slower Jannero Pargo who can catch fire. Leon Powe is undersized for a power forward, but has figured out how to be a clever post scorer regardless. Tony Allen is an athletic wing defender who forces turnovers and runs them down your throat, and Glen Davis is an effective banger down low. I haven’t heard if Antonio Daniels will be able to play tonight, but I don’t expect him to be able to jell with Brown, Peterson, Posey and Armstrong(my preferred second unit) fast enough to make our bench be able to keep up with this Celtics crew.