The Trifecta: Celtics vs. Nets

Mar. 27, 2010 - Chicago, ILLINOIS, United States - epa02095869 New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez looks to pass against the Chicago Bulls during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game at the United Center in Chicago Illinois, USA, 27 March 2010.

Why three?

With that little jog down memory lane complete, here are the three things to be on the look out for tonight when the Celtics are in Newark to face the Nets.

Minutes: Doc said it last night, so don’t be surprised when the starters make have a brief showing. Why? It’s the second night of a back-to-back in the preseason. No need to work those old guys too hard.

This gives Doc an opportunity to straighten up some of the jumble in the battle for bench spots, particularly in a crowded backcourt. With that in mind, I’ll be keeping my eye out for: what Stephen Lasme, the former UMass star, can do for an encore after an impressive showing in what was really garbage time last night, whether Von Wafer is more aggressive, and if Mario West gets a chance to defend the Nets “prized” free agent acquisition, Travis Outlaw. And we should see a good dose of Semih Erden and Big Baby up front. Which brings me to…

Defending the paint: Spencer Hawes and Trent Plaisted? Not much offensive firepower there in Philadelphia. Brook Lopez? Now defending him is a task that will truly test the Celtics up front.

I’m intrigued to see how Shaq and Semih Erden match up with one of the best young big men in the game. You might remember that Lopez torched the Celtics last year (he averaged almost 22 points and 7.5 rebounds in four games against the C’s), particularly in an embarrassing 104-96 loss on February 27.

Back-to-back, on track: The Celtics were solid in the second half of back-to-backs last year (11-5). While this one might not be indicative of how things go in the regular season, let’s see if the team comes out fresh and raring to go from the tip. After all, the Celtics’ season does open with a back-to-back: versus Miami at the Garden and then on the road in Cleveland.

Think there might be a little bit of a hangover after the opener, particularly against these Cavs? If the starters come out strong in a preseason game tonight, it will bode well when the time comes to travel to the “Land LeBron Forgot.”

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Tags: Boston Celtics Brook Lopez New Jersey Nets

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