Friday, March 16, 2012
2-on-2: Celtics vs. Kings (Game 43 of 66)
By Chris Forsberg
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the still-intact Boston Celtics (23-19, 7-11 away) roll into Power Balance Pavilion on Friday night (10 p.m., CSN) reach the midway point of a season-long eight-game road trip in visiting the Sacramento Kings (14-29, 10-9 home). To preview the matchup, we go 2-on-2 with CelticsHub's Brian Robb.
The Celtics are hoping that DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings are not laughing after Friday night.
1. What about the Sacramento Kings should worry the Celtics on Friday?
Robb: DeMarcus Cousins. We all saw how tough of a time Kevin Garnett and company had dealing with Andrew Bynum on Sunday. With Cousins, you have another young skilled center, that may not be at Bynum's level, but has more range and is certainly capable of putting up plenty of points and dominating the glass. With still no added depth to the frontline (yet) the C's will have to stay disciplined and out of foul trouble to keep Cousins under control.
Forsberg: Beyond Cousins, let's not sugarcoat it: Sacramento is not a very successful team. The Bulls, Heat, and Thunder have a combined 30 losses to this point; the Kings have 29 alone. Offensively, Sacramento ranks 26th in the league, averaging a mere 0.875 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. The one area you gotta watch them is in transition, where the Kings rank seventh (1.16 ppp). Boston absolutely has to make Sacramento play a half-court game and that means limiting turnovers and getting back defensively. The Kings won't win a battle of jump shots. One other area to watch with Cousins in mind: The Kings generate a lot of second-chance opportunities with their activity on the offensive glass, meaning Boston absolutely must be diligent in limiting the hosts to one shot per trip (especially given their high pace of play).
2. Did the C's make the right decision with no moves on deadline day?
Robb: Yes. It wasn't surprising at all, really, knowing Ainge's mentality about this season and the future. There was only a minimal chance that Ainge would acquire help for the team's lack of depth on the front line via trade, as he obviously didn't want to take on any additional salary or forfeit future assets. In addition, I'm thankful "trader Danny" learned his lesson and gave his core a final chance at a playoff run instead of wheeling and dealing for future parts. He was clearly listening to offers, but he made sure the price was rightfully extremely high. Any deal involving the starters could have alienated this fanbase and instead we got one final stand to look forward to over the next couple months, which is the best move for now and the future.
Forsberg: Agreed. Ainge knew the ball was in his court and simply waited for an opposing general manager to get foolish. It never quite happened, but Ainge, too, was disciplined enough to avoid making a bad decision (one that might have compromised cap space next year or busted up the core this year). The Celtics are content to give their Big Four a final rodeo and a chance to find the spark from two Finals run in the past four seasons. Yes, they need a big man, but they weren't about to overpay for a guy who will simply eat minutes and take some wear-and-tear off Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Greg Stiemsma over the final month-plus of the regular season. Now the team simply has to resolve the lingering headache that is the Jermaine O'Neal situation -- and add that much-needed big -- and the focus will be solely on what this team can accomplish in the postseason.