2-on-2: Celtics vs. Warriors (Game 42 of 66)
March, 14, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWill the already shorthanded Warriors have Stephen Curry when they host Rajon Rondo and the C's?The Boston Celtics (22-19, 6-11 away) catch a bit of a break when they travel to meet the Golden State Warriors (18-21, 10-10 home) Wednesday night (10:30 p.m., CSN) at Oracle Arena in Oakland. A five-player swap with the Milwaukee Bucks (including sending out Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown) will leave the hosts shorthanded on the second night of a back-to-back (Boston meanwhile took Tuesday off, despite encountering some travel woes getting up to rainy San Francisco). To preview the matchup, we play a game of 2-on-2 with CelticsHub's Brian Robb.
1. What should scare the Celtics most about the Warriors that weren't traded to Milwaukee on Tuesday?
Forsberg: Sure, the Warriors traded away Monta Ellis, but they are still one of the league's elite offensive teams. According to Synergy Sports data, they rank fifth in the league averaging .942 points per play. What's more, they thrive in a halfcourt set, ranking first in the league in spot-up shooting at 1.122 points per play (spot-up accounts for a team-high 19 percent of the Warriors' plays). David Lee, Dorrell Wright, and Steph Curry (if able to suit up) give Golden State more than enough firepower. Brandon Rush is the type of bench spark the Celtics don't have, while old pal Nate Robinson ought to be fired up (especially around the trade deadline given that the C's shipped him out as part of the Kendrick Perkins deal last year after acquiring him at the deadline the year before). The shorthanded Warriors still put up 115 points and throttled the Kings by 26 points Tuesday night.
Robb: High-energy offense and youth. Despite missing former teammates Ellis and Ekpe Udoh, as well as Stephen Curry (ankle injury) last night, Golden State blew out the Kings on the road thanks to a standout effort from Klay Thompson among other young role players. Despite the roster changes, Mark Jackson has this team playing well lately, winning four of its last five contests. High-powered offensive teams have usually been the demise of the C's on these west coast trips and tonight should be no exception. Boston must be efficient on offense in order to keep up.
2. Last prediction before Thursday: How does the trade deadline play out for Boston?
Forsberg: It's hard to imagine the Celtics not doing something, but they are not going to sacrifice future financial flexibility (or give up a quality draft pick) just to add a potential 10th man. That said, they need another big, and even if they can't find one in the trade market, they could still benefit from any sort of bench upgrade (the reserve group has been thinned by the loss of Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal and the need to move Brandon Bass into the starting lineup). Any move Boston makes Thursday might not push it over the top this season or make it any more of a contender than it already is. More likely, though, an addition will simply help the team get through the regular season while taking some stress off the guys the Celtics will lean on when the playoffs arrive.
Robb: I only see minor housekeeping moves on the horizon with no trades of the the team's stars. A small trade or two to free up a roster spot (perhaps Marquis Daniels?) or maybe some kind of salary dump if Jermaine O'Neal or Chris Wilcox will not be available over the rest of the season. We all know how committed Danny Ainge is to the future at this juncture, so while this team desperately needs a big man and has a couple assets (first-round picks) it could use to acquire one, don't expect Ainge to use them. Instead, Boston will be hungry in the buyout market, offering plenty of playing time to the first veteran big man that comes on the market.