Boston at New Jersey
1 P.M. ET
Boston: 107.3 points/100 possessions (9th)
New Jersey: 101 points/100 possessions (t-22nd)
Boston: 98.4 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
New Jersey: 105 points allowed/100 possessions (17th)
Probable Nets Starters: Devin Harris (PG), Anthony Morrow (SG), Travis Outlaw (SF), Kris Humphries (PF), Brook Lopez (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Nets Are Scorching
Thumbnail: Brunch with the Celtics, anyone? The C’s arrive somewhere in the swamps of Jersey on a six-game winning streak, and hoping for a livelier effort than the Sunday matinee letdown against the Raptors a couple of weeks ago. The Nets have lost two overtime games in a row and are 1-5 in their last six games overall, including the 89-83 loss to Boston on November 24.
WHAT THE NETS DO WELL:
I don’t mean to be glib about this but the Nets are tied for last in the Eastern Conference for a reason. Run any set of numbers, be they advanced stats or traditional stats, and the Nets come out looking mediocre at best, and bad more often than not.
They do play at the slowest tempo in the entire league, so, to be charitable, we could suggest they control pace. Why they play that slowly with Harris as their PG makes little sense to me.
They do present some matchups that will require the Celtics’ full attention though. Lopez got savaged by Shaquille O’Neal (25 points, 11 rebounds) in the last game but he remains a credible scoring threat and someone who can pull Shaq away from the basket on the pick and roll (a real problem for the C’s in the last game between these two squads). Harris (22.0 PER) is always a threat to put up a batch of points and Morrow is a guy you have to stick to on the perimeter, lest he rain threes down upon you.
And I think we can all agree: nobody likes to have threes rained down upon them.
WHAT THE NETS DO POORLY:
Combine their slow pace with their poor offensive efficiency, and the Nets are heading for a season full of low point totals. The Celtics held them to 94.3 OffEff last time out. And their best two offensive players – Harris and Lopez – face tough matchups against Rajon Rondo (who missed the last Nets game with his hamstring injury) and O’Neal, respectively.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Harris’ speed could prove problematic for Rondo and his ailing hamstring/foot, although the Nets’ PG is coming off a knee injury himself. And as noted, Boston better be ready to closeout on Morrow at the arc (this is exactly the kind of thing that could go wrong if Boston comes out uninterested – lackadaisical defense that allows New Jersey to capitalize with open three balls).
The Boston bench mob remains a concern and Doc Rivers is becoming more critical of them in public. Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels need to impact games consistently for this group to live up to its potential and to prevent the starters checking back into the game in the second and fourth quarters, having to salvage the wreckage the bench wrought. With Delonte West and Jermaine O’Neal (who?) on the shelf, and Semih Erden still fresh off the boat, those are the two rotation guys who need to be solid game-to-game (on top of Glen Davis, who has brought it much more often than not).
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
The New Jersey triumvirate of power forwards. Kris Humphries (23.6 mpg) is a hard worker but not overly talented, Derrick Favors (18 mpg) is talented but young and inexperienced, and Troy Murphy (18.4 mpg, only 7 GP) is old, injured and ineffective. KG thinks Joakim Noah is a nobody – what must he think of these guys?
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON THIS AFTERNOON:
The Celtics outworking the Nets. No injuries and short days for the starters.
The bench stretching out the lead and building chemistry. Real minutes for Avery Bradley.
Plus, a little more of this from Shaq:
Boston 108 New Jersey 94