Tip: 8pm Court: New Orleans Arena Watch it: CSNNE Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Scott Foster, Tony Brown, Josh Tiven
The Celtics beat a radically different Hornets team 89-85 in March. Glen Davis had 20 for the C's off the bench. David West led the Hornets with 32.
Get it to: Rajon Rondo
He's the engine that makes the Celtics go. Against a Hornets team that is still learning how to play with one another, it's up to Rondo to attack and pull everyone out of position. After taking a beating against New York and Miami, he might not feel like getting pounded, but he still needs to break down that defense and find other guys.
Gotta stop: Eric Gordon
Without Chris Paul or David West, Gordon is THE man for the Hornets right now… and he's capable of playing that role well. The Hornets got contributions from other guys in their one game this year (a win over Phoenix where Gordon hit the game winner with 4.4 seconds left), but the rest of the Hornets shot less than 43%. And that's against Phoenix.
The Wild Card: Unused Players (thus far)
Doc Rivers tried to win that game last night. Ray Allen played 40 minutes. Rondo played 44. And I think Doc did that because he knew he was going to give some other guys a shot in this game. So I'd expect E'Twaun Moore to get some burn tonight… as well as maybe JaJuan Johnson. Don't be surprised to see 30 minute games from Brandon Bass, Keyon Dooling and maybe even Marquis Daniels. The C's are going play a stretch now against some of the worst teams in the league (New Orleans tonight, Detroit Friday, Washington in a Sunday/Monday home & home and then New Jersey Wednesday). Might as well take the chance to work these guys in now, get the starters a little rest, and maybe get them ready for a couple of blow out wins.
How we see it goin' down
If Doc does go deeper into his bench, the we'll see a lot more disjointed play, some ugly turnovers, and some defensive lapses. New Orleans, despite the trade of Chris Paul and departure of David West, have some quality players around and they'll take advantage of the C's miscues. But the C's will just have too much talent and, in the end, will impose their will. After a lack-luster three quarters where we all rip our hair out, the starters will come in to shut the door and win with a comfortable final margin that won't reflect the back-and-forth nature of the first 36 to 40 minutes of the game.