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Game 61: Boston Celtics at New Jersey Nets

A funny thing happened on the way to the Celtics blowing up the Big Three + Rondo. They started playing really, really well and the thoughts & rumors of February became a distant memory. At this point in time, the Celtics are atop a pretty crappy Atlantic Division and look destined for the #4 seed (I'll get to that later). As for our Nets, they helped the Celtics out (honestly, the Sixers are doing more than enough in that regard) by beating the free falling 76ers.

How do these teams look? Let's take a look:

Offensive Rating

Defensive Rating

Offensive Rebounding %

Turnover Rate

Free Throw Rate

Effective FG%

Opponent eFG%

Boston

100.8 98.3 18.8 14.9 15.8 49.6 44.9

New Jersey

103.8 109.8 28.7 14.3 21.3 47.5 51.5

League Average

104.6 104.6 27 13.8 20.8 48.7 48.7

Ever since Kevin Garnett joined Boston in 2007, the Celtics have been monsters on the defensive end. Here's where they've ranked in defensive efficiency since he joined the C's:

2007-2008: 1

2008-2009: tied for 2

2009-2010: 6

2010-2011: 2

2011-2012: 1

The offense, due to age, injuries, and the jam packed schedule has been down this season. On occasion, they can have an excellent game on offense (see their midrange excellence vs. Miami). The one real problem with their team is their rebounding. They're terrible. Like second fewest rebounds in the NBA terrible. If they can't improve on that, it's gonna be one-and-done in the playoffs.

Five games to go, and the Nets will be playing spoiler from here on out. Considering how bad their defense has been this season, it's an accomplishment that Charlotte has managed to outsuck them. Hooray for ineptitude!

The preview. The result.

Before we jump, let's head to 1984. I remember a few years ago, Spike Lee said Larry Bird was the most overrated player in NBA history. of course, Spike is a salty Knick fan that's still bitter over the Celtics constantly got the best of his team. Games like these are why.

Tip-off is at 7:30. Come for the video, stay for the other stuff after the jump.

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. Deron Williams

Even though he can't shoot and is hated in the city of Chicago, Rondo is still a hell of a point guard. He's a dynamic passer (second to the amazing Steve Nash), good enough rebounder and defender (opponent PER of 11.8), so he provides value in other areas of the game besides shooting.

I'm gonna try to take a glass half full approach with Deron Williams. He had 10 assists again and the Nets got the win. Of course, if I were to take a glass half-empty approach, I'd mention that he had 5 turnovers and was 4-14 with only 4 free throw attempts. Excuse me while I take my half empty glass and pout some more about Williams's inefficiency.

Advantage: Even, though leaning towards Boston

Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley vs. Marshon Brooks

Ray Allen got hurt and Avery Bradley entered the starting lineup. Ray Allen is back, and Bradley is still starting. The former Longhorn has really done a great job since joining the starting 5 on March 25. He's a good shooter (53.5 TS% is fine), and is useful in other areas of the game. ANd the best part about Bradley's emergence for Boston? They have some much needed youth to build upon for their future.

That's the version of Brooks I want more of. Efficient (9-15), contributing in other areas (6 boards and 4 assists) and hitting a key shot late in the game. Even though the result is meaningless for Jersey, it'll only help Brooks if he gets to face teams that are competing for the playoffs.

Advantage: Boston

Small Forward: Paul Pierce vs. DeShawn Stevenson

Still the go to man, Pierce has been having another good season. For someone that involved in the offense, he's awfully efficient (TS% of 55.7%). Much like Rondo, he was the subject of trade rumors. Danny Ainge decided to keep him, and the Celtics hope Pierce has a big run of transcendent basketball in the playoff.

If Avery Johnson is smart, Gerald Green will start. But the question I have is why is DeShawn Stevenson still on this team?

Advantage: Boston

Power Forward: Brandon Bass vs. Kris Humphries

Bass is like the black version of Humphries (it's a compliment). He's low usage, can pop a jump shot every now and then, and works hard on the glass. He'll never get paid big dollars, so he'll always be a good bet to be productive.

Conversely, Humphries is like the white version of Bass. You could pretty much take the description I used for Bass and post it here. I won't because it'd be redundant, but you get the point.

Advantage: Even

Center: Kevin Garnett vs. Shelden Williams

17 seasons later, Garnett is still scowling, yelling at opponents, occasionally saying incoherent foolishness, and playing awesome basketball. He's been playing center for a while due to the injuries to Jermaine O'Neal (are you really surprised he's injured). His midrange game is still solid and he still brings the intensity on defense. Just the typical awesomeness from KG.

Jordan Williams got the majority of the minutes, and that'll probably be the case again. As for Shelden, I got nothing.

Advantage: Boston

Bench:

Boston: Ray Allen (out due to an ankle injury), Mickael Peatrus, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Greg Steisma, Sasha Pavlovic

New Jersey: Gerald Green, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, Armon Johnson, Sundiata Gaines

Advantage: New Jersey

Miscellaneous:

For years, the knock on KG was that he was an unclutch loser who couldn't get past the First Round. Now, he's a warrior that'll do anything to win. That was always the case in Minnesota, and I'm glad the national basketball writers finally stopped RINGZZZ gazing and recognized.

The original thought process of blowing up the Celtics was sound in my opinion. If you could get back great value for your aging veterans and reload for the future, you do it every time. Barring unbelievable hot streaks by all of the Big 4 and a little bit of luck along the way, the Celtics aren't winning a title this season.

Rondo_medium

"Deal with it."

In all honesty, I think Paul Pierce will make the Hall of Fame, and not just because he was a great Celtic (though it certainly helps. Hey, guys get extra credit, fair or not, when they play well for the glamour franchises.)

It's amazing to think that Garnett has been around for 17 years. And he could probably go another 5 years if he wanted to.

Since the Nets aren't gonna be doing anything meaningful once the season ends, I've been thinking about doing previews for every playoff series and some game reviews for classic Nets playoff games (if I can find them). And with that in mind, here's a quick and dirty look at Boston's probable first round opponent, the Atlanta Hawks:

Offensive Rating

Defensive Rating

Offensive Rebounding %

Turnover Rate

Free Throw Rate

Effective FG%

Opponent eFG%

Boston

100.8 98.3 18.8 14.9 15.8 49.6 44.9

Atlanta

103.7 101.2 24.2 13.3 18.9 49.2 48.7

League Average

104.6 104.6 27 13.8 20.8 48.7 48.7

Here we go again for Atlanta. This is their fifth consecutive playoff appearance, and they've been knocked out in the Second Round three straight years. I will give them credit, they actually lost with some dignity. They were swept the two previous and their closest margin of defeat was 10 points. Even though they're not good at it, the Hawks love the 16-23 feet jumpers. They're only shooting 37% (good for 20th in the NBA), but they're 8th in attempts. The Hawks are strong shooting the 3 (37%, 5th best in the NBA), but the Celtics are the best team in the league at the defending the three (29%). One major problem for Boston, their rebounding. I was all ready to say that the Hawks had the major edge on the glass, but really what's the difference between the second worst rebounding team (Boston) and the seventh (Atlanta)? Al Horford's missed a ton of time due to injury this season, and no one knows if he can return for this series...

Journey through the dark side: CelticsBlog

The mothership: Celtics vs Nets coverage

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