Jan 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Jeff Green (8) takes a shot against Denver Nuggets shooting guard Wilson Chandler (21) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics - Los Angeles Clippers: Previewing The Slaughter, I Mean Rematch!

One team has lost five straight games while it awaits the return of its starting point guard, is being outscored by 14 points on average

Dec 11, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jordan Crawford (27) is guarded by Los Angeles Clippers point guard Darren Collison (2) during the fourth quarter at TD Garden. The Los Angeles Clippers won 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

during this recent skid, and is suffering from dissension in the locker room following last night’s blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The other team is looking to win its fourth game in five tries, despite playing without its injured starting point guard, and is coming off one of its best defensive performances of the season.

Nail, meet hammer – you’re in danger of getting pounded.

The Boston Celtics play the third game in their deadly five-game West Coast road trip tonight in the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers.  Forgive me for sounding, ah, less-than-optimistic, but the Celtics are beginning to resemble the team we all assumed we would see at the beginning of the season.  Worse yet, it appears as if the players on the team are beginning to BELIEVE they are the crummy team that pundits felt would be in the the running for a prime pick in the upcoming NBA draft, as they have ceased to play with the intensity and never-say-die attitude that made them so watchable in the early stages of this season. Here’s what coach Brad Stevens had to say about his team’s effort last night against Denver:

“Tonight’s just not good enough. It’s not good enough.  We’re going to have to play really well to beat these teams on the road. Everybody’s going to have to play close to an ‘A’ game, and that’s everybody.”

It goes without saying that the Celtics have not played their ‘A’ game in quite some time – arguably since they dismantled the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden –  and even with the Clippers missing Chris Paul, Boston needs to play out of their minds tonight if they wish to salvage part of this West Coast road trip.  In case the Celtics are reading, here a few friendly reminders that might make the difference between win and loss tonight:

1. Score efficiently.  Jeff Green led all Celtics players with 17 points last night.  Problem is, it took him 19 shots to get those 17.  Boston shot 38.5% as a team last night, and are only managing to connect on 39.5% of its shots during their current losing streak.  I mentioned this the other day – the Cs need to try and run more, as well as penetrate and dish, rather than settle for jumpers as the shot clock is winding down.

2. Play aggressive, yet smart.  Jared Sullinger: seriously?  Two flagrant fouls in a span of 23 seconds?  I’ve seen you commit a few hard fouls this year, and for the most part I’ve been okay with that, but the last time I covered a Cs game you committed a frustration foul that was deemed a Flagrant 1, and last night you just played dumb basketball.  When players start doing crap like that, it’s a sure sign of a team melting down.  Try to remember you are the Boston Celtics, so even if you lose a lot of games this year, you have a tradition to honor.  Play aggressive, but be smart.

Tonight’s game is set to kick-off at 10:30 p.m.  Wait – did I read that right?  And I have to cover it?  Better take a nap!  Follow us on Twitter – @HoudiniCeltics and @theamazingMrS – and check back in tomorrow for my take on the game!

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