10:30 P.M. ET
Boston: 104.8 points/100 possessions (t-13th)
Los Angeles: 102.3 points/100 possessions (22nd)
Boston: 97.4 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Los Angeles: 107.4 points allowed/100 possessions (24th)
Probable Clippers Starters:
View From The Opposing Bench: ClipperBlog
Thumbnail: Welcome to the stretch drive. With Jeff Green and interim starting center Nenad Krstic primed to make their Celtics debuts tonight and Boston and Miami in a virtual tie for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, every game’s important between now and the playoffs. And the Celtics have staggered lately, losing winnable games to good and bad teams alike.
Of course, tonight the focus will be on seeing how the new Celtics fit into the lineup, and how Doc Rivers tries to use them. It’ll be a work in progress for awhile but we should get a good inkling about Doc’s plans. To that end, keep an eye on:
And if you need a non-Celtics reason to watch, there’s always the phenom Griffin, who is having one of the greatest rookie seasons in NBA history. Unfortunately, we’ll not get a look at injured Clippers guard Eric Gordon, another emerging star.
So, come for the newbies and stay for the victory.
WHAT THE CLIPPERS DO WELL:
Despite a poor offense and an even worse defense, the Clips actually present some matchup challenges for the Celtics on the frontline. The trio of Griffin, Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu is young, long, athletic and energetic and could cause problems for Garnett, Baby, Krstic and Pierce tonight, particularly if they get up and down the floor and play with focus.
Talk of young Clipper frontline players gives me an excuse to embed a totally gratuitous Griffin highlight mix. Never get tired of watching him go up and throw down. Let’s just hope his dunks tonight come in a losing effort.
Interior Attack: The Clippers can do some serious damage inside. They take 27 shots a game at the rim, fourth best in the league. And once they’re underneath, they draw contact and get to the line. Their FTR sits at 33.9, also good for fourth in the league. And as a capper to those, they get on the offensive glass, with an ORR of 29.3, good for – you guessed it – fourth in the league.
Which is to say, they will attack the Celtics inside with their length and athleticism and try and take advantage of the absences of 21-feet of Celtics (and former) Celtics centers. Of course, with Gordon out and Williams still brand new to the team (if he plays at all), the Celtics have a good chance to cut off penetration and Ray and Rondo could go off for big nights.
WHAT THE CLIPPERS DO POORLY:
The Clips are mediocre in most ways, and guard play could be a particular problem tonight. But on top of that, they turn the ball over even more than the Celtics (14.80 TOR, third worst in the league) and are top-10 worst in the league in opponent’s three point percentage (calling Ray Allen…) and their own three point percentage (3rd worst).
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Jordan and Griffin. For the reasons noted above.
The Griffin-KG matchup is going to be fascinating.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Without Gordon, the Clipper backcourt looks vulnerable to exploitation on both ends of the court.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
Good energy from start to finish (from both bench and starters alike). A glimpse of why Danny Ainge made the trades he did – which means impressive debuts from Green and Krstic. KG swallowing up Griffin on defense.
A bit of a loose effort defensively as guys get used to each other.
A good fourth quarter to close out the Clips.
Boston 101 Los Angeles 94