Game 60: Celtics vs. Warriors
|(27-33, 8-20 away)||-- vs. --||(44-15, 26-5 home)|
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Value the ball: The Warriors currently force opponents into 16.2 turnovers per game, good for the second highest mark in the NBA. When Boston and Golden State met in Oakland last week, Boston committed 18 turnovers, which the Warriors converted into 23 points. While the Celtics still managed to escape with a 22-point victory in that game, they could have an even easier time of it tonight if they cut back on their number of miscues. For the season, only eight teams have been turning the ball over at a higher rate than the Celtics.
- Running and gunning: The Warriors are of the league's most dedicated fast-breaking teams, but, much like a Phoenix Suns squad the Celtics toppled on Wednesday, they don't like it when opposing teams flip the script and try to beat them in transition. When these two clubs met on the Warriors' floor, the Celtics made an effort to run both on missed and made baskets, particularly in the first half. The result was Boston producing a whopping 30 fast-break points, which outweighed the 22 produced by Golden State. The circumstances haven't changed very drastically since that last meeting. If Boston wants to run tonight, Golden State isn't likely to rush back and play great transition defense.
- Second unit growth: Boston's bench brigade played an important role in the Celtics amassing their 29-point lead over the Suns on Wednesday, but it was also one of the key culprits as the Celtics stumbled through the final 15 minutes and allowed Phoenix to get back in the game. While it would be optimistic to hope for growth from the unit following the practice time it was allotted on Thursday, the group will be missing key components in Delonte West (ankle) and Glen Davis (knee) tonight. We can still examine the comfort levels of guys like Jeff Green and Troy Murphy, but the second unit Danny Ainge envisioned when he pulled the trigger on the recent Kendrick Perkins trade might not see the floor together for at least another week.
[Last week's] loss to the Celtics began a four-game skid for the Warriors, but they put an end to it Wednesday in Washington -- barely. Golden State was up by 20 points late in the third before watching the lead shrink to one, but held on for a 106-102 victory behind 29 points from Stephen Curry.
"When you've gone through a streak of losing, to get a win -- no matter how it ends up -- nobody will pay attention to how the fourth quarter went," coach Keith Smart said after the Warriors improved to 1-2 on their seven-game road trip.
If Golden State plans on winning in Boston for the first time since Garnett's arrival, it will likely need more from Monta Ellis than the 15 points he contributed while shooting 6 of 18 last week. Ellis has been held to 17.0 points per game -- 7.7 below his average -- and 36.2 percent shooting since the All-Star break.
The Warriors also need to slow down Rajon Rondo, who's averaged 22.3 points and 14.0 assists in his last three games in this series.
Al Thornton, released by Washington earlier this week, is expected to be in uniform for Golden State after signing with the Warriors on Thursday.
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