Celtics: Beasts of the East collide Wednesday at Garden
Where’s Brooklyn at?
Well, currently, they’re at the top of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets (9-4) invade Boston Wednesday for a showdown of two of the Eastern Conference’s better teams. But make no mistake about it; the Nets are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA through the first month of the season.
Brooklyn’s lone Eastern Conference loss came at the hands of the Miami Heat back on Nov. 7. The Celtics (8-6), on the other hand, have already lost five games to Eastern Conference opponents – including one to the Nets.
The C’s went into Brooklyn on Nov. 15 and gave up a fourth-quarter lead, eventually falling 102-97. There’s just one minor detail that goes along with the loss though: Boston was without Rajon Rondo, who missed the game with a sprained ankle.
Rondo will be ready to go tonight though, and riding a 37-game, 10-plus assists streak, look for him to take it to the team trying to unseat the C’s as division champs after five years in a row. But assists may be a lot harder to come by tonight, as the Nets boast the NBA’s best defense, giving up only 91.3 points per game.
So what will the Celtics need if they are to pull this one off? It’s something that the team has been lacking at times this season: an inside presence.
Boston ranks dead last in rebounds per game. We can’t expect that number to rise dramatically, but dead last? That just isn’t going to cut it. Brooklyn comes in at 12th, and players like Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, and big off-the-bench rebounder Reggie Evans are the reasons why. Those three players along with forwards Gerald Wallace and Andray Blatche make up an aggressive frontcourt.
According to hoopsstats.com, Brooklyn’s “In-the-paint” stats (center and power forward) is the most efficient in the NBA, while Boston’s ranks 28th. At those positions, Brooklyn averages 41.0 points, 29.4 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks per game compared to Boston’s 36.9 points, 20.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks.
For a win at home Wednesday, a little nastiness may be in the game plan for the C’s.