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Saturday, December 29, 2012
W2W4: Celtics vs. Warriors (Game 29 of 82)

By Chris Forsberg

AP PhotoRajon Rondo dishes the ball in traffic against the Golden State Warriors.
The Boston Celtics (14-14, 5-9 away) visit the Golden State Warriors (20-10, 9-4 home) on Saturday night at Oracle Arena (10:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

* WON'T BE EASY TO BOUNCE BACK: After the Clippers pounded Boston to start this little three-game West Coast swing, things don't get much easier in the Bay Area against a Golden State squad that has won 10 of its past 13 overall. This has always been a tough place to play for the Celtics and -- yet again -- they must remain focused on 48 minutes of consistent basketball in order to compete.

* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: The Warriors rank ninth in the league in averaging 0.934 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. What's more, they rank third in spot-up shooting (their top play type), averaging a whopping 1.077 points per play and shooting 44.2 percent in those situations. No surprise, Stephen Curry is the leader of that band, but Klay Thompson also thrives in spot-up situations. Carl Landry has quietly been super efficient overall (1.058 ppp, 93rd percentile), while David Lee (1 ppp, 84 percentile) headlines the frontcourt. Defensively, Golden State checks in at 13th overall (0.913 ppp) and is excellent at limiting transition opportunities. The Warriors are exploitable in the pick-and-roll, ranking 29th against ball-handlers in those situations, so it's on Rajon Rondo to take advantage.

* DEFENDING THE 3-POINT STRIPE: The Warriors rank sixth in the league in 3-point percentage (37.8 percent), an area that Boston has struggled at times to defend this season. Boston doesn't want to try matching Golden State from beyond the arc as the Warriors also rank sixth in 3-point defense, with opponents shooting a mere 33.7 percent.

* BACK-TO-BACK CHECK: This is the first night of a back-to-back for the Celtics, who visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Boston is a mere 3-5 on the first night of back-to-backs this season, having lost the front end all three times on the road (vs. Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago). In danger of dipping below .500 with a loss, the Celtics need an inspired effort on Saturday.