The first time these teams played, in Brooklyn Nov. 15, the Celtics were without Rajon Rondo and came away with a 102-97 loss. The Nets had 18 offensive rebounds. Asked Tuesday what the Celtics planned to do differently in their rematch with the Nets Wednesday night, forward Jared Sullinger said, “box out.”
The Celtics spent Tuesday’s practice working on their pick-and-roll defense. Coach Doc Rivers said he was also concerned about the size advantages of Brooklyn guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
“They can post up their 1, which they will a lot,” said Rivers. “They’ll post up their 2 and they’ll post up their 3. It’s rare that you have three in that position; all three guys are post guards. And they can shoot, too.”
Rivers said the Celtics will have to double-team Williams down on the block, though he is concerned that helping too much will lead to easy offensive rebounds for Brooklyn.
The Nets are coming off an energizing 96-89 win Monday over the Knicks in the renewed Battle of New York. There’s more energy in the Atlantic Division this season, and some of that will be on display tonight.
Here are the details for tonight’s game:
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (8-6), Nets (9-4)
Broadcast info: CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), NBATV, WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
Probable starters: Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Jason Terry SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett
Nets: PG: Deron Williams SG: Joe Johnson SF: Gerald Wallace PF: Kris Humphries C: Brook Lopez
Rajon Rondo has recorded 10 or more assists in 37 straight games. Magic Johnson holds the NBA record with 46. Heard some talk on the radio that Rondo’s pursuit of the record might be taking away from the team, which seems a little contrived.
Defense: The Nets lead the league in defensive scoring at 91.3 points per game. The Celtics, meanwhile, rank 27th in defensive field goal percentage (46.3 percent). That’s not good, and it’s not Rivers’s usual recipe for success. It’s fine to say that Avery Bradley’s return will help the defense, but the current players need to step up first.
Feeding Garnett: There was a lot of talk Tuesday about finding Kevin Garnett in the post early and often. Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez presents a tough matchup for Garnett, which is one of the reasons the Nets are scary. It will be interesting to see just how much Garnett gets the ball tonight, because the Celtics are at their best when he is getting it.