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Game 62: Celtics vs. Clippers

3/9/2011

at TD Garden, 7:30 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH

  • The Blake Show, Part II: If Celtics fans stayed up for the late-night tipoff nearly two weeks ago, you already got your first look at Clippers rookie phenom Blake Griffin, who's taken the NBA by storm this season with his freakish athletic ability and thunderous slam dunks. If not, you'll get that first glance Wednesday, as Los Angeles is set to make its only appearance in Boston this season. While a victory for Boston is priority No. 1, Celtics fans might not mind if some harmless highlight-worthy dunks from Griffin were sprinkled into the action.

  • Rondo's minutes: Carlos Arroyo is expected to make his Celtics debut tonight, and having the added support at the point guard position should allow Boston coach Doc Rivers to limit the minutes of Rajon Rondo. Rondo's played 37 or more minutes in 11 of his last 13 games, and more than 40 minutes in three of his last six contests. Rivers has said in recent weeks that he'd prefer to keep Rondo's minute total below 40, and seeing as Arroyo looked surprisingly comfortable within the Celtics' offense during his first practice on Tuesday, this could be a good opportunity to do that.

  • Party at the Charity Stripe: In their 99-92 victory over the Clippers back on Feb. 26, the Celtics overcame a rough shooting night (41.1 percent from the field) by taking a season-high 41 free throws. It was the only game this season in which the Celtics attempted 40 or more attempts from the charity stripe, and, more importantly, they converted 35 of those 41 attempts, good for an 85.4 percent clip. Paul Pierce in particular led the charge by tying season-highs in free throws attempted (13) and made (11). Will the Celtics bring that same aggressive mindset to Wednesday's game? In the four games since the Celtics attempted 41 free throws against them, the Clippers have allowed a much more reasonable figure of 23.5 free throw attempts per game.

GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)

The Clippers didn't have Eric Gordon when they faced Boston last month and won't have him Tuesday, either. Los Angeles' leading scorer missed six weeks with a right wrist fracture before returning in a win at Houston last Wednesday, but he aggravated the injury in Saturday's victory over Denver.

Gordon is out indefinitely. His teammates shot just 41.9 percent without him Monday at Charlotte, but were able to open a five-game road trip wit a 92-87 victory.

It's the fourth three-game winning streak for the Clippers, who haven't won four in a row since Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 10, 2010.

"It's great to get a road win like this," said Blake Griffin, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds. "We've struggled on the road, so it's good to get a win to start it out. It's good to kind of get the confidence going and hopefully we can build from here."

Los Angeles, 6-25 away from Staples Center, has lost its last three trips to the TD Garden. All five of the Celtics' home losses, however, have come against Western opponents.

Read the full preview HERE.