Hornets (1-1) vs. Celtics (3-0)
Game time: 6pm CSN
Bos: Paul Pierce 20 ppg Hornets: Chris Paul 28.5 ppg
Bos: (tie) Pierce, S.Williams 7.3 rpg Hornets: Emeka Okafor 11.5 rpg
Bos: Rajon Rondo 12.3 apg Hornets: Paul 6.5 apg
Who'll go off: Paul Pierce. He's been hot so far and there's no reason to think he'll slow down. And I get the feeling that he's going to pull the veteran moves on Julian Wright and get himself to the line a lot.
Who needs to be stopped: Chris Paul seems like the obvious answer, but it's really David West that needs to be stopped on New Orleans. Kevin Garnett has problems with West, who often tends to have big games against the C's. Obviously, if you stop Paul, you'll probably beat the Hornets. But you can withstand a big game from Paul if you keep everyone else in check. And "everyone else" begins with David West.
The C's will lose if: Rajon Rondo tries to do too much. Perk's comments aside, Rondo is sitting here looking at the last 24 hours to sign a contract extension with the Celtics… and he just so happens to be playing against the best point guard in the league. Rondo has been in total control for 3 games. But if he tries to go mano-a-mano against Chris Paul, he could throw off the entire team's flow.
Wild Card: Emeka Okafor. He can get on the boards. The one thing that has driven me a little nuts about the Celtics over the past couple of years is how they seem to give up offensive rebounds in bad situations. I wouldn't be completely shocked if Okafor spent a frustrating amount of time keeping possessions alive for the Hornets. He might be able to do that enough to keep New Orleans in the game.