Time to Make Like Romans and Conquer the Celts

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Published: February 11, 2009

Game Preview

Matchup: Celtics(42-11) @ Hornets(30-19)
Off Efficiency: Celtics 108.3(5th), Hornets 106.7(10th)
Def Efficiency: Celtics 97.9(1st), Hornets 103.6(11th)

The Celtics arrive in New Orleans tonight for the final Hornets game before the All-star break this weekend.  The Celts are 8-2 over their last ten, with the two losses being by narrow margins to the Spurs and Lakers.  There is no question they continue to be the same sort of powerhouse they were last season, rumbling along behind a crushing defense and a very good offense.

There are a lot of pundits who are trying to find weaknesses in teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Cavaliers and Magic, but the fact remains these teams are complete, and any perceived weaknesses are typically two or three games lapses in something the team usually does quite competently.

The Hornets will have a tough time tonight if Paul doesn’t play and Brown and Daniels are relied on to penetrate.  The Celtics are great at jamming the perimeter shooters, so the Hornets really need to get some penetration going to force the defense to collapse.  If that happens, our shooters could open up, and this game could be winnable.

That assumes, of course, that our shooters don’t shoot like they did in Memphis.

Injuries:

Celtics: Tony Allen probably won’t play.
Hornets: Paul is day to day(I think he’ll play), Chandler is doubtful(don’t think he will), and Morris Peterson is out.

Positional Analysis

PG: Rajon Rondo v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Rondo is a good defender and skilled ball handler.  His decision making has improved every year, and this year he’s making fewer mistakes than ever.  His shooting, however, remains suspect, but I think that will matter less in this game than you’d expect.  Whenever Boston plays the Hornets, Rondo becomes a determined driver – trying to attack the basket.  Paul – who is most effective while roaming – will need to stick on him to stop easy back-door scoring opportunities.  Rondo, on the other hand, will not be able to pressure turnovers the way he’s used to, and even at his best, will have trouble stopping Paul.

SG: Ray Allen v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Celtics
Ray Allen is having a bit of a rennaisance year, with his shooting and scoring back up from the dips its taken the past couple years.  He’s got a pure, fast shot, and is capable of scoring off the dribble.  He’s the type of wing scorer that Butler can usually do a good job against defensively, but unless Butler can hit himself tonight, Allen should still outproduce him.

SF: Paul Pierce v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Celtics
Pierce is an all-around player capable of doing lots of things to help his team win.  He started off the season fairly poorly, but he’s now rounded into his usual form and will be hard to handle.  He’s got a much more complete game than Stojakovic, though his slow-footed but relentless drives do play a little more into Stojakovic’s defensive abilities than you’d expect.

PF: Kevin Garnett v David West
Advantage: Celtics
Offensively, these two guys aren’t so different.  Both take a huge number of long twos, and hit them at unusually high rates.  Both also can score in the post with fundamental moves.  Defensively, however, Garnett is head and shoulders abouve West.

C: Kendrick Perkins v Sean Marks
Advantage: Celtics
Perkins is a nice player.  He a good rebounder, has a few moves in the low post, and has little downside other than a propensity for turnovers at times.  Marks is better than I thought, but he’s not better than Perkins.

Bench
Advantage: Celtics
The Celtics bench of Leon Powe, Glen Davis, and Eddie House will probably be without Tony Allen tonight, which leaves the Celtics without a strong wing player to spell Pierce and Allen.  I doubt it will matter that much, because both of those guys can absorb big minutes.  Eddie is the true scoring threat from the bench, being capable and willing to let fly from deep.  Paul will have to be aware when Rondo goes out that if he gives House any room, the ball will be airborne.  I gave the advantage to the Celtics, but I think that Julian, Posey, Daniels and Devin Brown can definitely match the Celtics second unit.  They just aren’t consistent enough for me to feel they will.

 

Enjoy the game.  And thanks for stopping by.

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