2-on-2: Celtics vs. Clippers (Game 41 of 66)
March, 12, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Celtics will be looking to avoid too much of this during Monday's battle with the Clippers.Both the Boston Celtics (21-19, 5-11 away) and Los Angeles Clippers (23-16, 12-6 home) lost at the Staples Center on Sunday. When the two teams clash there on Monday night (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.), someone has to leave with a win . To preview the matchup, we play a quick game of 2-on-2 with CelticsHub's Brian Robb.
1. What should scare the Celtics most about the Clippers?
Robb: Two of the league's most athletic big men in DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin is usually scary enough. The C's having to battle this duo, along with Mr. Rebound himself Reggie Evans, with a skeleton crew of big men is a straight-up frightening proposition. Boston did a fairly decent job holding its own on the glass Sunday against the Lakers, given the circumstances, but Monday's game will be a tall order. Everyone will have to be active on the glass for the C's in order for the visitors to remain competitive in this one.
Forsberg: Celtics coach Doc Rivers stressed to his team that, at no point during Sunday's game, would they be bigger than the Lakers and that Boston had to take advantage in other areas (utilizing its quickness and pushing the ball). Well, the daunting thing about Monday's game is that the Clippers are going to be bigger than Boston and they might be quicker and more athletic, too. It's hard to see how Boston matches up, short of Rajon Rondo going off in revenge mode for the preseason Chris Paul rumors. Sure, Los Angeles isn't one of the better defensive teams in the league (21st in defensive rating while allowing 96.1 points pe game), but shootouts on the second nights of back-to-backs on the road seem dangerous for Boston to engage in.
2. How should the Celtics approach their need for another big man? Free agent, trade, or something else?
Robb: Free agency is probably Danny Ainge's best bet at this point. No big man of consequence will be available to the C's via trade unless they want to give up one of their rotation pieces or first-round picks. With an incredibly deep draft looming in 2012, I don't see either of those options happening with the Boston admittedly looking towards the future with a keen eye. Instead, my guess is Ainge will bring in some short-term help (perhaps on a 10-day contract), before pouncing out the first capable big man that is bought out by their team after the trade deadline.
Forsberg: The Celtics don't want to swallow one of their guaranteed contracts, so you have to think they'll examine all possibilities before going down that avenue. That would mean trying to trade an end-of-the-bench type like Marquis Daniels (akin to what they did last year in dealing him to Sacramento) to free a spot, because as B-Robb noted, it's highly unlikely the team will be able to land an impact big man via trade (heck, even Rivers joked on Sunday that not a lot of teams would be lining up to help Boston). The other option is, depending on the outlook for both Chris Wilcox (cardiac issue) and Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist injury), the team could pursue buyout options with either player if they are simply unable to return to the court this season. As the Celtics found out last year, buyout options (like Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo) can be extremely underwhelming, but if Chris Kaman gets bought out by the Hornets, that's one very intriguing option. One other thought: Has anyone called Nenad Krstic's agent to see just how ironclad that overseas contract is at the moment?