Boston:106.9 points/100 possessions (13th)
Charlotte: 103.9 points/100 possessions (24th)
Boston:102.3 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Charlotte:103.5 points allowed/100 possessions (5th)
Probable Charlotte starters:
Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff
Thumbnail: It’s not everyday you play the three worst teams (statistically speaking) in the league, however for the Celtics, it may seem that way lately. After being dismantled by New Jersey and escaping Detroit, the Celtics welcome the Bobcats to the Garden tonight. The Celtics might be riding a one game winning streak, but the Bobcats have some fire power in the their starting lineup and play solid defense- enough to make me sweat at least.
WHAT THE BOBCATS DO WELL:
Starting Five. Like I mentioned in the Thumbnail, the Bobcats have some serious fire power and athleticism in their starting five. Stephen Jackson is one of those players that, if hot, can stretch a lead in a hurry. Jackson is also a solid wing defender and should hamper an already hampered Paul Pierce.
Jackson, coupled with first time All Star Gerald Wallace give the Bobcats two athletic wings that can really make a team pay in transition. The Bobcats start a power forward that is a bit undersized, but at 6’8″, Boris Diaw still has the quickness and skill to play inside and outside. Point guard Raymond Felton also has the ability to push the pace and put the ball in the bucket. The only wild card in the starting five is at the center position. With both Tyson Chandler and Nazr Mohammed likely out tonight with injuries, look for old pal Theo Ratliff to step in and fill the void in the middle.
Playin’ Tough. The Bobcats ALWAYS play the Celtics tough. It’s like an unwritten rule of the Eastern Conference. That consistency combined with the renewed vigor Stephen Jackson has found now that he is “the man” again will make tonight’s game a tough one.
WHAT THE BOBCATS DO POORLY:
Consistency…? Ranking fifth in the league in defensive efficiency is definitely something the Bobcats can hang their hats on. Unfortunately, they only score as much as they give up. This is one area where consistency is not necessarily a good thing. Whether you’re an offensive Juggernaut or the stingiest team in the league, if you only make as many points as you give up, you need a player in the end that can seal the deal. The Bobcats really only have one bonafide “go-t0″ in a close game in Stephen Jackson. Both Boris Diaw and Raymond Felton are players capable of making game-winners, but neither of them are exactly getting plays drawn up for them. Same with Gerald Wallace. While Wallace is one of the best in the league at getting to the tin, he is also too unreliable a jump shooter to really get the call in a game-winning situation.
PLAYER/S WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
As I mentioned before, this guy is playing with some renewed energy. Since coming to Charlotte nine games into this season, Jackson has seen his numbers go up across the board. The disheartening part of this for any Celtics’ fan is that Jackson is only a year younger than Pierce. One year younger, yet right now, he seems worlds more formidable.
PLAYER/S WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Nazr Mohammed, Theo Ratliff, Tyson Chandler
In their heyday, Mohammed and Ratliff were great defensive centers and the premier shot blockers in the league. Now, Ratliff is old and Mohammed has lately been dealing with some back spasms. Chandler is also riding the pine with an injury but is next to useless anyway unless Chris Paul is throwin’ him alley oops.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’s TONIGHT:
I would love to see the Celtics go 2- for-3 against the league’s three worst offensive teams but I’m not so sure that will happen. Aside from the usual hopes (KG plays well and stays healthy, Paul Pierce rebounds nicely from the injury and has a good game, the bench plays a lot of minutes) I want to see Shelden Williams get another run. He played well last night and Charlotte is another team with statuesque big men. I also want to see if the Celtics pursued the right guy, “opting” for Nate Robinson over D.J. Augustin.
Let’s hope Marquis Daniels gets it going offensively. Last night, Daniels went 0-for4 and seemed lost and frustrated. I don’t blame him entirely. It’s hard to play hard when you get called for a foul while not touching someone (re: Tayshaun Prince stepping on Ben Gordon’s calf and twisting his ankle).
I was happy to reverse-jinx the C’s last night, so let’s try it again. I’m not so sure I’ll be so lucky.
Bobcats 97, Celtics 89