After roasting the Hawks on Sunday, the Boston Celtics look to begin a winning streak tonight at 7:30 against the New Jersey Nets at the TD Bank Garden.
The Nets (5-9) are coming off an overtime win over the same Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics are now 10-4, but may be without point guard Rajon Rondo, who will be a game-time decision.
Here are three keys to the game:
- Brook Lopez vs. Shaquille O’Neal:Lopez is average 18.3 ppg this season and should have his way with old Shaq. Expect Lopez to be involved in a lot of pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops to exploit Shaq’s mobility issues and keep him away from the basket. I’m worried Shaq will pick up some early fouls trying to defend Lopez. This will be a key match up both ways as Lopez can struggle defensively with power centers like Shaq.
- Devin Harris vs. Nate Robinson: Probably the league’s two biggest gunners from the point guard slot. Both are talented players who do little to involve or improve their teammates. Devin Harris, though not big for a point guard, uses his size well and Robinson’s defense has been atrocious all season (see: JJ Barea and Leandro Barbosa). Since Robinson doesn’t defend or distribute the ball, he’ll need to continue his hot shooting to positively impact the game, which will be very important if Rondo misses the game.
- Rebounding: So far this season, the Nets are an above average rebounding team. The Celtics have been much improved on the glass this season, but have struggled against bigger teams. With the way Lopez, Kris Humphries, and Derrick Favors have been playing recently, the Celtics will have to put out a good effort on the glass.
Bonus Key: Effort
The Celtics are the superior basketball team by far. As long as they play their hardest, Boston should come out of this game with an easy win. I’m interested to see what attitude the Celtics bring to this game. The same attitude they had against Atlanta, or the one they had that led to losses to a Durant-less Thunder and to Toronto? I hope they bring it tonight because I’m starting to sense a pattern of letdown against the weaker opponents, a pattern I got all to used to last season and one I can’t stand to happen this season.