Your Christmas game preview: Celtics v Nets

Boston Celtics timeout
Boston Celtics timeout (Photo credit: Erik Cleves Kristensen)

Game time: 26 Dec 2012, 0400hrs AEST. Not for the faint-hearted.

Watch on: NBA League Pass or ESPN, live broadcast. League Pass has this game free.

Roster changes:

  • Leandro Barbosa (unavailable, personal issues)
  • Chris Wilcox (unavailable 3-4 weeks, sprained ulnar collateral ligament – thumb)
  • Avery Bradley (day to day, shoulder rehab)
  • Jarvis Varnado (new signing from D-League)

Merry Christmas folks. After the discouraging performance seen in recent games, it does seem like the Nets are ready to give the C’s a hard time at Barclays Center once more. Are you ready to scream and rage in the wee hours of the morning?

Here’s a quick look at the keys that could make a difference in the game.

Interior defense
The Nets have several capable big men (Lopez, Blatche, Humphries) who can and will score inside. Collins is solid, but foul-prone. Bass is decent, but Sully is not capable of handling man on man defense with big guys who know their way (read: Andray Blatche), so this is dangerous territory.

Just like how it was with the preseason game, the Celtics have to be quick on their defense and actively disrupt passing lanes. By denying the entry passes and causing turnovers, transition offense will allow the C’s to get into their scoring groove.

Nets get less chances to score, Celtics get more scoring opportunities. It’s that simple.

Less shooting, more paint action
The C’s cannot rely on a good shooting night to take the win, it’s not going to happen. There has to be an active effort to go into the paint, either via low post action or by drives. I’m looking for Pierce to make this happen. Rondo, Lee and Green have to take their opportunities at the rim whenever it presents itself as well.

Free throws could very well make the difference in this game. Save the whinging on the FT disparity, we need to take it in before any whistles can be blown. Shooting jumpers all day long is not going to cut it, especially when we are not a dominant offensive rebounding team.

Bradley’s return
Rumours of the long-awaited debut for our defensive-minded guard have been circulating like wildfire. Should this really happen, perimeter defense will be much improved, reducing chances of our big men missing their men.

Avery Bradley’s appearance will be a bonus so I’m not holding my breath yet. The game happens with or without him, we have to make it work regardless.

Varnado’s impact
The signing of the 6 ft 9 shotblocker/rebounder could very well shore up our interior defense. I’m not sure if he is capable of adjusting to the complex C’s defensive system on the fly, so this is a question mark. Expect to see him getting decent minutes after Bass and Sully, especially with the Nets capable of fielding big men who can provide second chance opportunities.

He could be a game changer, but I think it’s not going to happen in this game.


Summary
The defense has to happen before anything else. What are your thoughts on the game?

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