Tip: 7:30PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: James Capers, Tony Brown, Karl Lane
Spread: BOS -1.0
Chicago beat the Celtics in overtime, 100-99, back on Jan. 18. Rajon Rondo’s 30-point night wasn’t enough to overcome costly late-game mistakes in both regulation and overtime.
Get it to: Jason Terry
With Barbosa down, that means Boston will have to lean even heavier on Terry to fill the void at guard. Throw in the recent offensive shortcomings of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee and that makes Terry’s importance even greater.
Terry has averaged 17.7 points and 3.3 assists per game over his last three games. He’s also connecting on 52.7% of his attempts from the field and 45.5% from distance.
Typically considered a defensive liability, Terry has shown vast improvement on that side of the ball as of late. It seems the Celtics are finally receiving the benefits from one of their marquee offseason pickups.
Gotta stop: Nate Robinson
Many will remember Robinson as Donkey to Glen “Big Baby” Davis’ Shrek or for his failed celebration leap atop Pierce at MSG. But if Boston cannot control their former friend, he could be remembered as the reason why the Bulls escaped with victory.
Following Kirk Hinrich’s injury, Nate Robinson has thrived taking over the starting point guard duties. In five games since, he’s averaging 18.2 points and 7.8 assists per game. He’s also shooting 49.3% from the floor and 53.6% from downtown.
The Celtics have to limit his scoring and force him into bad decisions. Chicago turned the ball over 21 times in the last meeting between these two.
The Wild Card: Can the Celtics finally close out a game?
With less than five minutes to go, Boston seemingly has the game under control. But just as you’re about to reach for the remote, the opponent fires of an inspired rally. Next thing you know, you’re watching the teams get ready for overtime, or even worse, the Celtics walking off the court losers.
We’ve seen it all season long.
Boston needs to close down games. They’ve been outscored in the fourth quarter in five of their last seven games. They almost choked away the win against the Denver Nuggets, before being outscored 9-2 in the last 2:46 of Monday’s loss to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.
Against a conference opponent, and with seven of their next eight on the road, the Celtics can’t afford to make the same mistakes tonight.
How we see it goin’ down
If we’re going off recent history, then Boston will surely lose this and then proceed to drop a couple more. You’d have to go back to Dec. 21 for the last time the Celtics followed up a win-streak-snapping loss with a win.
But then again, the only consistent thing about this team has been their inconsistency.
Boston’s lack of depth is a definite cause of concern. However, I see Doc getting the boys up for this one and delivering the Celtics their fourth-straight win against plus-.500 teams.
Both teams rank in the top 10 in scoring defense, so expect a low-scoring affair.