at New Jersey Nets (1-5) at Boston Celtics (3-3)
Wednesday, January 4
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #7, Home Game #3
TV: CSNNE, YES, NBA-LP 752/753
TD Garden Probable Starters PG
Rajon Rondo.....Ray Allen ..... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett..... Jermaine O'Neal Boston Reserves
Mickael Pietrus (knee) out Probable Starters PG
Deron Williams.....Sundiata Gaines.... Damion James.... Shelden Williams...Mehmet OkurNew Jersey Reserves
Dennis Horner Injuries
Kris Humphries (shoulder) questionable
Brook Lopez (foot) out
Nets assistant coach Popeye Jones played for the Celtics from 1997‐99
Damion James and Avery Bradley were teammates at Texas
Johan Petro and Ray Allen were teammates in Seattle from 2005‐07
MarShon Brooks and JaJuan Johnson were traded for each other at the 2011 NBA Draft
Jordan Williams and Chris Wilcox both attended the University of Maryland
Shelden Williams played for the Celtics during the 2009‐10 season
Keyon Dooling played for New Jersey from 2008‐10
Shawne Williams and Brandon Bass were teammates in Dallas during the 2008‐09 season.Key Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Shelden Williams
Kevin Garnett has been playing well in the past two games. Facing former Celtic Shelden Williams may be just what he needs to have another very good game. KG has a height advantage and may know just what it would take to get into Shelden's head.
Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
Rondo's play has been exceptional this season so far. He now gets to face one of the top PG's in the league who also has been playing well despite his team's record. Rondo always seems to up his game against the league's best, but as well as he has been playing, that might be tough. Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Sundiata Gaines
It will be interesting to see if Ray can keep up his hot shooting vs former D-Leaguer Sundiata Gaines. He has to get tired sometime, right? Player to Watch
On draft night, Danny Ainge drafted Providence College's MarShon Brooks but then traded him for JaJuan Johnson. It was a trade that several Celtics fans questioned. And with the way Brooks is playing, some still question it. Brooks is leading all rookies in scoring at 13.7 points per game to go with 3.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 21 minutes. He is shooting 46% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc. In his last game, he recorded career highs in points (21) and rebounds (7). Johnson hasn't had much chance to play and so it may be awhile before we know whether this trade was indeed a good one or not. Game Notes
The Celtics have clawed their way back to .500 and face a Nets team that is just 1-5. It would be easy to overlook them but the Celtics haven't played well enough yet to overlook any team.
The Celtics won the 2010-11 season series 3-1 but the Nets are riding a one game win streak, having won the final meeting of the year. Since that time, the entire Nets roster has had a makeover while the Celtics starters are still intact with a makeover on the bench. the Nets have some nice pieces but it will take some time for the chemistry to build. The Nets are also dealing with a possible season ending injury to their starting center Brook Lopez, who was the lone bright spot for much of last season for the team. Their starting PF is also questionable with a shoulder injury. Jermaine O'Neal is expected to play in this game but Mickael Pietrus still isn't ready.
The Nets are one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA, ranking 29th in scoring at 85.3 ppg and 30th in FG % at 38.4%. The Celtics' defense hasn't been all that good, but unless the Nets break out with some execeptional shooting, the defense should be good enough to hold the Nets to their averages.
Keys to the GameFocus
- It would be easy to look past a team starting Sundiata Gaines and Shelden Williams but let's not forget that this is also a team that is led by Deron Williams. The Celtics need keep their focus and come out to play as if they were facing the Heat. Underestimating any team, regardless of record is a big mistake. Defense
- The key to every win is defense. The Celtics have got to put out the effort on the defensive end and when the defense is on track, that fuels the offense. Rebound
- Rebounding is a big key to getting a win. The Celtics must put out the effort on the boards to prevent second chance baskets and put backs from the Nets. The Nets are ranked 17th in rebounding at 41.3 per game while the Celtics are ranked 28th with 36.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics have to crash the boards and work hard to out-rebound the Nets. Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics must come out strong and make a statement early. They shouldn't give the Nets any hope that they could win this game. They also have to play hard until the final buzzer and not allow the Nets to mount any comebacks. X-Factors
Trap Game and Home Court
The Celtics have the home crowd behind them and they need to feed off the energy from the crowd to play hard and get the win. Focus will be key here as if they remain focused they should get an easy win but if they lose focus and allow the Nets to stay in it, it could be a tough fight to the end.