Our Boston Celtics travel to Brooklyn tonight to face the sudden-rival Brooklyn Nets. When the megatrade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was made in June, many predicted that we would see these two teams on opposite ends of the Atlantic division. And we all had the Celtics in first… right?! In tonight’s battle of first-year coaches, we get to watch two completely opposite teams collide.
In Brooklyn, we have the 101 million dollar (in just salaries) product of an opulent owner looking for the quickest route to a championship. Instead, owner Mikhail Prokhorov has seen his club fall to a staggering 6-14 start. From a starting lineup combining for over thirty all star appearances, Brooklyn fans have rightfully been disappointed thus far. The coaching staff has been in disarray, as rookie coach Jason Kidd has already had to deal with punishments from the league (SpillGate?) and change in his coaching staff (Lawrence Frank was “reassigned”). Winners of just three of their last nine games, the Nets rank in bottom 8 of all teams in points scored, points allowed, rebounds per game, assists per game and field goal percentage. Celtic legend and small forward Paul Pierce is unlikely to play with a hand injury while star point guard Deron Williams is expected to start his first game in nearly a month.
While the Nets have surprised everyone with their failures, the Celtics have surprised us with their successes. The thrashing of New York on Sunday was beautiful to watch and lets us know just how good this team is. No matter how much talent (no all-stars until Rondo returns) or experience (oldest starter is just 28) they lack, the one thing you can expect from Brad Stevens’ club on a nightly basis is effort. The C’s come into tonight’s contest with a 10-12 record, good enough for first in the Atlantic in this crazy season. Boston bounced back from a nightmarish six game losing streak by winning six of the last eight games. While the offense hasn’t knocked me off my chair, prior to the Knicks game, the defense has been a marvel to watch. Despite their youth and lack of size, Boston currently ranks fifth in the league in points allowed per game, thanks to great interior play from Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger while Avery Bradley has been his usual pesky self on the perimeter. But arguably the most encouraging play thus far has been the steadiness of Jordan Crawford. Thrust into the role of point guard, Crawford has been on fire of late, averaging seven assists and nearly twenty points per game over the last five contests. Crawford may be the most influential member of the team, as his play has been dramatically better in wins than in losses.
Tonight’s game could be one of the better games we’ve seen yet in this young season. The return of Deron Williams means a lot for Brooklyn, but enough to assure a win? I’m guessing that the star point guard makes things much more interesting and difficult for the Celtics, but Boston manages to win in typical Brad Stevens fashion: late fourth quarter surge. Keep your eyes glued on tonight’s contest and come back to hardwoodhoudini.com after the game for my recap! Also follow us on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics for live tweets!
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