Boston Celtics: W2W4

W2W4: C's vs. Heat (Game 25 of 82)

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (10-14, 3-6 away) visit the Miami Heat (12-15, 4-9 home) on Sunday evening at AmericanAirlines Arena (6 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

The new guys: The Celtics spent Saturday's offday trying to get recent acquisitions Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, and Brandan Wright up to speed on the team's playbook and all three should be in line to make their Boston debut on Sunday after watching Friday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. It'll be our first glimpse of how coach Brad Stevens plans to integrate the new faces on a team that's riding a season-best three-game winning streak.

Heat in focus: Miami ranks 17th in offensive rating (103.4) and 25th in defensive rating (107.1). That minus-3.7 differential puts them 21st in the league. Miami is the worst rebounding team in the league and plays at the slowest pace. That said, the Heat do shoot the ball well (6th in both true shooting and efficiency field goal percentage). Miami is playing without star big man Chris Bosh (strained left calf).

Loose Balls: The Heat are a ½ game ahead of Boston in the Eastern Conference standings with the teams occupying the final playoff berths at the moment. ... The Heat have lost two straight. ... From STATS LLC: Boston has dropped five of seven at Miami, but the Heat have already matched their total of nine home losses from last season and are trying to avoid losing six straight there for the first time since a seven-game slide in March 2008. ... Miami is 3-8 in December.

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W2W4: C's vs. Wolves (Game 24 of 82)

December, 19, 2014
Dec 19
12:00
PM ET
The Boston Celtics (9-14, 6-8 home) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-19, 2-9 away) on Friday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Post-trade fallout: Celtics coach Brad Stevens talked Thursday about the difficulty in getting his team to focus even as trade rumors swirled around his team. Now Stevens must figure out how to keep his team on task in the aftermath of Thursday's trade, even when all the talk is likely to focus on a player that's no longer here in Rajon Rondo.

Wolves in focus: The Wolves have been as bad as their record suggests. Minnesota ranks 26th in offensive rating (98.4), 28th in defensive rating (109.5), and 29th in net differential (minus-11.1). About the only advanced metric that leaps off the page -- in a positive way -- is Minnesota's offensive rebounding rate (sixth overall). The Timberwolves do crank the pace, ranking fourth in the league while averaging 98.7 possessions per 48 minutes (Boston is first at 100.49).

Loose Balls: Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart tested his injured ankle/Achilles at Thursday's practice and, assuming no setbacks, he could be back in the lineup Friday (and Boston needs some ball-handlers with Rondo's departure). ... Boston can match its season-high three-game winning streak. ... A couple notes from STATS LLC: The Timberwolves have lost nine of 10 and would record their third losing streak of four or more games with a defeat Friday. ... Boston has won eight straight at home against Minnesota since a 99-97 loss on March 6, 2005.

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W2W4: C's vs. Magic (Game 23 of 82)

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
11:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (8-14, 5-8 home) host the Orlando Magic (10-17, 7-11 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Oh Oh it's Magic: The Magic are an interesting bunch. They are 3-3 in their last six games, having posted wins on the road in Utah and Sacramento to close out a length trip out west, then stole one from the Hawks during a home-and-home series. After starting 6-12, Orlando has simply played better basketball since the end of November. Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double-double for the season (18.3 points, 11.6 rebounds) while Tobias Harris (18.5), Victor Oladipo (15.1), and Evan Fournier (14.4) are all averaging double digits in scoring.

Magic in focus: The Magic rank 25th in the league in offensive rating (98.9) and 18th in defensive rating (104). That places them in the bottom third of the league in net differential (minus-5.1, 23rd). Orlando resides in the back half of the league in most major advanced categories. What do the Magic do well? Orlando ranks sixth in defensive rebound percentage.

Keep shooting, Kelly: Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 30 points during Monday's win in Philadelphia. The Celtics don't expect him to lead the team in scoring every night out, but he absolutely has to display the aggressiveness he showed Monday. Olynyk didn't pass up open looks and didn't get bashful at the rare times his shot didn't fall. Better yet, he did much of his dirty work in the second half near the basket against a long and athletic 76ers team. The Celtics need that Olynyk in order to be competitive, especially as the team's offense comes back to Earth a bit after a fast start.

Loose Balls: The Celtics are expected to be without rookie guard Marcus Smart (foot). Boston reserves Marcus Thornton (calf), James Young (shoulder), and Vitor Faverani (knee) are also out. ... Vucevic missed six games in December because of a lower-back injury, but has been back for Orlando's last two games. ... A couple notes of interest from STATS LLC: Orlando has been limited to an average of 90.1 points in dropping 11 of 12 to the Celtics. The Magic have lost seven straight in Boston. ... The Magic are averaging 92.3 points on the road and rank near the bottom of the league, but Boston is 28th with 105.2 allowed per game at home.

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W2W4: C's vs. 76ers (Game 22 of 82)

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (7-14, 2-6 away) visit the Philadelphia 76ers (2-21, 0-12 home) on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

All praise for Philly: The Celtics, coming off head-shaking losses to the Hornets and Knicks, know they must approach approach Philadelphia like a 21-2 team. Asked about how the 76ers are playing since the first meeting, Celtics coach Brad Stevens gushed: "I think the thing that stands out about Philly is their passion and the effort with which they play, and it very rarely wanes. I credit them and I credit Brett Brown, they do what they do, they do it hard, they do it well. And this little tweak of playing a little bit smaller and being a little bit more spread out on both ends of the floor has been effective. They had one of the best teams in the league beat [Saturday] night [against Memphis], all the way up until the freakin' buzzer."

76ers at a glance: When these teams meet a month ago, Philadelphia ranked dead last in offensive rating and middle of the pack in defensive rating. The 76ers have made strides in the month of December and actually rank fifth in the league in defensive rating this month while allowing only 95.9 points per 100 possessions. The Celtics were often bothered by Philly's length and ability to block shots near the basket. Troubles lie on the offensive end where the 76ers own a defensive rating of 93.6 this month, second worst in the league in front of only the Pacers (92.2).

New look for 76ers: More from Stevens on the 76ers: "They are playing a little bit different than when we played them the first time. They are playing [Luc] Mbah a Moute at the 4, they are almost never playing [Nerlens] Noel and [Henry] Sims together, which makes them a problem on both ends of the court. They are switching a lot more, and they are long -- they don’t have a guy below 6-feet-6 on their roster. They really make it so that it’s tough to get good shots; their defensive numbers have improved dramatically since we played them the last time. The addition of [Robert] Covington has added a guy that has helped stretch the floor for them; I think he had six 3s against Brooklyn. They are running plays to him late when it matters. They’ve obviously won a few games, but they are also clearly better and clearly different than when we played them the first time."

Loose Balls: The Celtics will be without Marcus Smart (foot) and Marcus Thornton (calf), both of whom did not make the trip after recent setbacks. ... Boston is expected to have Avery Bradley back after he missed Friday's game due to illness. ... Philadelphia's K.J. McDaniels missed Saturday's game with a sprained ankle. ... From STATS LLC: The 76ers are 0-12 at home for the second-worst start in NBA history behind the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks, who opened 0-19 on their own court. ... Boston posted a 101-90 victory in Philly on Nov. 19, but needed to rally a bit after a slow start. ... Philly's first win came on Dec. 3 in Minnesota, then it topped Detroit in overtime three days later. ... The 76ers have also lost three straight, including an overtime defeat versus Memphis on Saturday.

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2015game22

W2W4: C's vs. Knicks (Game 21 of 82)

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (7-13, 5-7 home) host the New York Knicks (4-20, 1-11 away) on Friday night at TD Garden. Here's what to watch for:

Knicks are a mess: The Knicks arrive in Boston with a 10-game losing streak, an ailing Carmelo Anthony (knee), and reports of team discord. Yes, their woes running the triangle offense under first-year coach Derek Fisher are the least of the worries for a team dangerously close to joining the Philadelphia 76ers at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Anthony's balky left knee leaves him uncertain for Friday's game, though the Knicks are hoping it has improved since sitting out Wednesday's game in San Antonio.

Knicks at a glance: The Knicks rank 21st in offensive rating (101.4 points per 100 possessions), 27th on the defensive side (108.2). In fact, nearly every important advanced metric finds New York in the back half of the league. That includes the team ranking 30th in defensive rebound percentage, 29th in pace, and 30th in free throw attempt rate. Something the Knicks do well? Ummm, errr, they are ranked ninth in the league in 3-point percentage (37.2 percent).

Loose Balls: This is the first of four meetings between the teams. They already played twice in the preseason this year. ... The Celtics, despite dropping their last two games, own the sixth best defensive rating in the league for the month of December while allowing only 97.8 points per 100 possessions. ... Jared Sullinger admitted he's surprised by New York's struggles. "I thought the triangle would work well with the team they had," he said. "I guess it's a learning process. I’m pretty sure they'll catch up." ... The Celtics have been sloppy with the ball this month, particularly in the fourth quarters. With the team's offensive rating declining recently, the Celtics must value possessions more.

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2015Game21

W2W4: C's vs. Hornets (Game 20 of 82)

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (7-12, 2-5 away) visit the Charlotte Hornets (5-15, 4-7 home) on Wednesday evening at Time Warner Cable Arena (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Hornets add one to hive: The Hornets are expected to get Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back after the small forward missed the past 12 games due to a stress reaction in his right foot. That's a much-needed boost for a Hornets team that had lost 10 straight without him before edging the Knicks on Friday thanks to Kemba Walker's heroics. Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to be eased back in a reserve role.

Hornets at a glance: The Hornets rank 26th in offensive rating (98.2 points per 100 possessions) and 25th in defensive rating (106.2). That minus-8 differential is fourth worst in the league. Charlotte is a mess on offense (only 94.2 points per game), but the Hornets at least give themselves a chance by rebounding well (third in defensive rebound percentage), leading the league in team turnover percentage, and limiting the amount of free throws their opponents shoot. But the defense isn't generating enough stops to take pressure off a team that shoots 43 percent overall and 30.6 percent beyond the 3-point arc.

Loose Balls: The Celtics are coming off a double-overtime loss to the Wizards, but their starters ought to be rested as Brad Stevens leaned on his bench Monday after they sparked the team's comeback from a 23-point deficit. ... It will be interesting to see how Boston's bench responds. Young players like Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk played extremely well in Washington and should have some extra confidence after Stevens stuck with them. ... Old friend Al Jefferson tops Charlotte while averaging 19.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

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2015game20

W2W4: C's vs. Wizards (Game 18 of 82)

December, 7, 2014
Dec 7
8:45
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (6-11, 4-7 home) host the Washington Wizards (13-5, 4-3 away) on Sunday at TD Garden (1 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Truth comes home: Is there really any other storyline? Paul Pierce is returning to Boston for only the third time since being traded away in June 2013 and for the first time as a member of the Wizards. Go ahead and watch the tribute video from January to remember how emotional Pierce's return can be. In his own video talking about coming back home, Pierce joked he's going to "drop 30 for old time's sake."

Wiz at a glance: The Wizards are winning in large part due to defense. Washington ranks fourth in the league in defensive rating while allowing only 98.7 points per 100 possessions. The Wizards are middle of the pack in offensive rating (15th, 104.6) and are eighth in net rating (+5.9). The Wizards have the top assist ratio in the league, are sixth in total rebound percentage, and rank in the top half of the league in just about every important advanced metric. A weakness? Good luck finding one. Washington ranks 24th in opponent free throw attempt rate, but the Celtics struggle to exploit that with their inability to consistently get to the stripe.

Loose Balls: Pierce isn't the only one coming home: Kris Humphries spent last season in Boston before being delivered to Washington via sign and trade this past summer. ... This is the front end of a home-and-home with the Celtics visiting the Wizards on Monday night. ... Marcus Smart, who sat out Friday's game as the Celtics ease his way back into game action, went through practice Saturday and could be in position for more action Sunday. ... As STATS LLC notes, the Wizards had dropped seven straight in the series before taking three of four last season, including both road meetings for the first time since 2005-06.

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2015Game18

W2W4: C's vs. Lakers (Game 17 of 82)

December, 5, 2014
Dec 5
9:55
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (5-11, 3-7 home) host the Los Angeles Lakers (5-14, 3-6 away) on Friday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Rivalry renewed? Celtics rookie Marcus Smart’s eyes shot wide when a reporter mentioned Friday’s visit from the Los Angeles Lakers. “The rivalry,” said Smart. “We got 17 [NBA championships], they got 16. Everybody knows that. I’m excited.” Smart wasn’t throwing any barbs, he was just stating facts. Smart will get his first taste of the NBA’s most storied rivalry on Friday night and, well, at least someone's excited. There's not much buzz behind this Celtics-Lakers game as each team navigates their respective rebuilding process. Regardless, it's still Boston vs. L.A. and both sides should have a little extra juice for this one.

Lakers in focus: The root of Los Angeles' struggles? No, it's not all those shots by Bryant (the Lakers still rank in the top 10 for offensive rating). It's a woeful defense that ranks dead last in the NBA in allowing a staggering 112.4 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers take good care of the ball (fifth in turnover percentage) and that helps their offensive efficiency. Bryant helps them rank near the top of the league in free-throw rate as well. Trouble lies at the opposite end and Boston absolutely must take advantage of how often the Lakers put opponents at the charity stripe.

Loose Balls: As STATS LLC notes, Los Angeles is 4-1 against the Eastern Conference while the Celtics are 0-7 against the West. ... More from STATS: The Lakers have won six of seven in the series and seven of nine in Boston. Bryant is averaging 28.8 points over his last 13 regular-season trips to TD Garden, shooting 51.8 percent in the past three. ... The Celtics didn't play particularly well against Detroit, but emerged with a much-needed win in overtime. Boston has a chance for only its second winning streak of the season (and would match their season long from back-to-back wins on Nov. 7-8). ... Boston has slipped to 19th in offensive rating, while still ranking 26th in defensive rating. ... Los Angeles' defensive rating improves by more than 13 points per 100 possessions when Bryant is off the court. The Lakers are plus-5 in net differential without him; but minus-11.1 with him.

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2015Game17

W2W4: C's vs. Pistons (Game 16 of 82)

December, 3, 2014
Dec 3
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (4-11, 2-7 home) host the Detroit Pistons (3-15, 1-7 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Someone's gotta win! Wednesday's tilt features two teams desperate for a win. The Celtics have lost five straight and eight of their last nine, while the Pistons have dropped nine in a row. What's more, Boston has lost six straight at home, its longest losing streak since the forgettable 2006-07 season. Both teams are coming off losses on Tuesday as the Celtics kicked away a 23-point lead in Atlanta, while Detroit fell to the Lakers (who visit Boston on Friday night). Despondent Celtics fans might shortcircuit if Boston gives up another fourth-quarter lead.

Pistons in focus: Here's what Stan Van Gundy is working with in Detroit this year: The Pistons rank 28th in offensive rating (96.8 points per 100 possessions) and 20th in defensive rating (105.2). That minus-8.4 differential is the third worst mark in the league (behind only the Timberwolves and winless 76ers). What does Detroit do well? Ummm, well, errr ... they are ninth in turnover percentage, so they've got that going for them. Detroit is 29th in assist ratio and dead last in true shooting percentage. Detroit's woeful offense left Van Gundy opining, "Offensively, we just continue to be awful. We're really messed up right now as a team."

Loose Balls: Rajon Rondo will be playing in his first back-to-back since returning from an ACL tear. Nearly 11 months since returning to game action, he downplayed any concerns about playing consecutive nights. ... Brad Stevens has often rotated the 10th player in his rotation. On Tuesday, it was Gerald Wallace, whose stat line was all zeroes beyond 2 turnovers and 2 fouls in 12 minutes. He was minus-5 in plus/minus. Celtics might be better off hoping Phil Pressey can infuse some pace and offense, particularly early in the fourth quarter before Rondo returns, in that spot. ... The downside to playing a team on a long losing streak: Even a Boston win will be dismissed as coming against a weak opponent. Alas, beggars can't be choosers at this point. ... Rajon Rondo's updated fourth-quarter stat line this season: 108 minutes, 8-of-33 shooting (team-worst 24.2 percent), 32 assists, 13 turnovers, 5 blocked attempts, minus-50 in plus/minus. We'll say it again, Boston's issues are a team issue and not on Rondo, but they need more from their captain in the final frame.

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2015game16

W2W4: C's vs. Hawks (Game 15 of 82)

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (4-10, 2-3 away) visit the Atlanta Hawks (9-6, 7-2 home) on Tuesday night at Philips Arena (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Turning the page: The Celtics played one of the league's toughest schedules in November and that certainly contributed to their lackluster 4-10 record. The buzz is that a less daunting December slate might help Boston secure more wins, but coach Brad Stevens cautioned that the team must tighten up its play in order for that to happen. "Hey, we’re playing NBA teams this whole next month too so unless we change, the results won’t change," Stevens said, suggesting his team must still put together a consistent 48 minutes in order to get the wins that have evaded them to this point.

Honing in on Hawks: The Hawks own one of the league's most efficient offenses while averaging 107 points per 100 possessions. What's more, they have shown improvements defensively (despite ranking 20th overall with a defensive rating of 104.9). The Hawks don't rebound well and are susceptible on the offensive glass. The key for Boston might be slowing down Atlanta's offense and preventing a shootout.

Loose balls: The Celtics haven't beaten a non-winless team since Nov. 8 and have lost seven of their last eight. ... Boston needs more from its defense, which ranks 27th in the league in efficiency. ... Stats LLC notes that Atlanta is shooting 42.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc over its last three games so the Celtics need to be mindful of Atlanta's shooters, especially Kyle Korver. ... Celtics rookie Marcus Smart will miss his 10th straight game while rehabbing from an ankle sprain. ... Boston moved Tyler Zeller into the starting lineup last game and it will be interesting to see if they stick with that while second-year big man Kelly Olynyk works his way through an early-season slump.

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2015game15

W2W4: C's vs. Spurs (Game 14 of 82)

November, 30, 2014
Nov 30
12:30
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (4-9, 2-6 home) host the San Antonio Spurs (11-4, 5-3 road) on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden (1 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Learning from the champs: The Celtics and coach Brad Stevens spent much of Saturday's practice gushing about the Spurs and what they've accomplished throughout the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan era. Stevens was asked about the way if Popovich and the Spurs might have influenced this Boston team. "They’ve impacted some of what we do, offensively, certainly," said Stevens. "We don’t run the same stuff, but I want the same ideas: Great pace, great space, playing really unselfish, not holding onto the ball too long. And we’ve had times when we’ve been really good at that and times when where we need to get better. But I think it’s a fun way to play. It’s fun to watch. I don’t think you can ever try to be somebody else. You have to be your best you. But I think you can take tidbits from people."

Admirable in the Alamo: The Celtics dropped a 104-93 decision in San Antonio last season, then fell 104-92 in Boston a few months later. Reflecting on last season's meetings, Stevens noted, "I thought we played them really well [in San Antonio last season]. ... I watched it and I thought we played really well. [In Boston,] we played well, but they held half their guys back so, again, they just plug guys in and then you see all these guys that have gotten a ton of minutes in the regular season being great in the playoffs. I think that you can always learn a lot from watching and everyone of us has watched them a ton, probably as much as anybody else, because they are the ones that are on in June. But they are admirable to watch. As a basketball purist, my favorite thing to do is watch a team that plays like that."

Focused on 48 minutes: Stevens maintained that the Celtics played well in Friday's loss to the Chicago Bulls, even over the final 2 ½ minutes when Boston went scoreless. But he also knows the margin for error against a team like the Spurs is even thinner than the usual visit. The Celtics have started strong, but absolutely must maintain that early energy. It will be interesting to see if Stevens tweaks his lineup or rotations at all, particularly in the frontcourt. Kelly Olynyk is battling through a slump and Stevens must decide if it's more prudent to stick with the second-year 7-footer, or tweak the lineup and try a more traditional center like Tyler Zeller.

Loose Balls: The Celtics were expecting to be without rookie guard Marcus Smart as he works towards a return from an ankle injury. ... Rajon Rondo, after miss two late-game freebies on Friday, gets another chance to quiet the chatter around his free throw woes. ... Jared Sullinger wore sunglasses at practice Saturday after getting elbowed in the eye Friday and experiencing light sensitivity. He did not expect it to be an issue Sunday. ... Boston wraps up a brutal November schedule with the visit from San Antonio. ... The Celtics have lost five straight at home, their first Garden losing streak of that length since dropping 13 in a row from Dec. 20-Feb. 9, 2007.
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2015game14

W2W4: C's vs. Bulls (Game 13 of 82)

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
4:00
PM ET
The Boston Celtics (4-8, 2-5 home) host the Chicago Bulls (9-6, 7-3 away) on Friday afternoon at TD Garden (1 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Repeat performance? The Celtics posted a 106-101 triumph over the Bulls earlier this month, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted that his team can't put much stock in that performance. "Such a unique game -- we didn’t have [Rajon] Rondo or Marcus [Smart], [Derrick] Rose didn’t play. We played really well on both ends of the floor, and then they really made a run late, and their go-to guy late in that game was [Aaron] Brooks. He continues to be a go-to guy off the bench for them. What you see is, as Rose has been in and out of the lineup, and as [Joakim] Noah has been in and out, you see an increase in who they are going to and the two guys that they go to a lot are [Pau] Gasol and [Jimmy] Butler. Butler’s having a great year now. He is playing -- he’s always been a tenacious defender, but his ability to score on the block, his ability to create havoc in a 1-3 pick-and-roll, his ability to drive and get fouled and get to the foul line, he’s pretty close to an All-Star level, if he’s not [already]."

Injury Watch: Stevens said the team is preparing as if both Rose and Noah will play. Rose strained his hamstring Monday and only played in the first half the next night. Noah (knee) and Taj Gibson (ankle) also sat out Tuesday's loss in Denver. The Celtics will be without Marcus Smart, who has been ruled out as he works his way back from an ankle injury.

Home is where the heart is: The Celtics have dropped five of their last six overall, including four straight at home. As STATS LLC notes, Boston is trying to avoid its first five-game home losing streak since dropping 13 in a row from Dec. 20-Feb. 9, 2007. Stevens downplayed the notion of home vs. road this week, but did admit, "We'd like to win in front of our fans, there’s no question about that."

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2015Game13

W2W4: C's vs. Blazers (Game 12 of 82)

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (4-7, 2-4 home) host the Portland Trail Blazers (9-3, 1-2 away) on Sunday night at TD Garden (6 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Blazers at a glance: Giving the usual glance at where the next opponent ranks in the top advanced metrics, Portland looks impressive. The Blazers rank third in offensive rating (108.7) and seventh in defensive rating (99.5), while ranking in the top 10 in total rebound rate (4th), assist ratio (8th), and true-shooting percentage (6th). The Blazers do an awful lot well -- and there's no glaring weaknesses to exploit. They're shooting 46 percent overall and nearly 40 percent beyond the 3-point arc. The Celtics will need their defensive A-game to compete.

Coach's take: LaMarcus Aldridge is the focal point while averaging 21.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. But coach Brad Stevens heaped praise on the entire team. "[Aldridge is] not their only All-Star," said Stevens. "And they’ve got guys in [Wesley] Matthews and [Nick] Batum and [Steve] Blake that are great shooters as well. I think I heard a stat that Wesley Matthews has hit the fifth most 3s in the NBA last year. [Damian] Lillard is in the argument for the best shooter in the league just because of the percentage he shoots [47.6 percent overall and beyond the arc] and the difficulty of shots he hits. So I think that you’ve got great shooting, surrounding a very talented post guy, who can also shoot the ball. I think a guy that just complements everybody well is [Robin] Lopez, he probably doesn’t get enough attention, both on his offensive rebounding and on his post ability."

Aldridge altitude: ESPN the Magazine recently spotlighted Aldridge's shot technique. How does an undersized big like Jared Sullinger stop that? "You don’t really stop players, you try to stop their rhythm," said Sullinger. "There’s going to be times when he’s going to make shots, and we’re going to have to live with it. Just how tough of a shot is he going to make? Thats the biggest thing. As a basketball player, you know you’re not going to stop everybody you’re not going to hold them to zero points, but you try to make it as tough as possible for them to score."

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2015game12

W2W4: C's vs. Grizzlies (Game 11 of 82)

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (4-6, 2-2 away) visit the Memphis Grizzlies (10-2, 6-0 home) on Friday night at FedEx Forum (8 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Talent runs deep: The Grizzlies own the best record in the NBA and haven't lost at home. Memphis has quality depth and showcased that on Wednesday night by hanging around in Toronto despite missing five players due to illness. "[The Grizzlies are] good and very deep. Even [Wednesday] night, five guys are sick, and they had a five-point lead late in the game at Toronto ... These guys are playing really well," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. "The bigs are obvious with [Marc] Gasol and [Zach] Randolph, those are go-to guys, and they feed them in the post time and again. They both can pass, they both can play. And then I think they’ve got a lot of guys that fit their roles exceptionally well. And Mike Conley is probably having an All-Star-type of year. So it's a heck of a challenge." The Grizzlies listed seven players as questionable for Friday's game due to the virus around the team.

Griz at a glance: The Grizzlies rank fifth in defensive rating, allowing only 97.8 points per 100 possessions (and a mere 91.8 points per game). Despite their size, Memphis ranks in the back third of the league in defensive rebound rate (23rd), but limits its turnovers (6th in turnover percentage) and is a top-10 team in both second-chance points and points in the paint.

Matching the physicality: Stevens lauded Brandon Bass for his game-changing physicality in Wednesday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics will need much more of that on Friday. "[Memphis has] got physical guys," said Stevens. "Sometimes you can increase that physicality, you can increase your toughness, you can increase your strength by the weight room. Sometimes it’s just about signing physical guys. They’ve got some physical dudes in that locker room, that’s for sure." Added Stevens: "I think the biggest thing that stands out with these guys is their physicality, just generally. And part of that is because they play really hard and they're really well-coached, and part is because they’re big, physical guys. Randolph and Gasol are big guys. Kosta Koufos is a big guy. Tony Allen's a physical 3, we all know that. So it's a nice basketball team, and the physicality plays a big role for them."

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2015game11

W2W4: C's vs. 76ers (Game 10 of 82)

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (3-6, 1-2 away) visit the Philadelphia 76ers (0-10, 0-4 home) on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (CSN, 7 p.m.) Here's what to watch for:

Everyone needs a win: The Celtics are eager for a win after letting a couple close ones get away, but can't look past a winless division rival. "[The 76ers are] looking for that first one," said center Kelly Olynyk. "They don’t want to make any records the wrong way. They’re definitely looking to turn their stuff around. And we definitely need to get one under our belts, so it’s going to be a battle and a scrap and we gotta go in there hungry and ready to play." Even amidst their tanking/struggles, the 76ers beat Boston the final two meetings of last season.

Philly in focus: The 76ers rank dead last in offensive rating while averaging a measly 88.3 points per 100 possessions, not a good look for a team with the second highest pace in the league. Their defense hasn't been awful with a rating of 104 (17th overall). But Philly is the worst rebounding team in the league and 28th in turnover percentage. It's not a surprise to see them winless given their play thus far.

Coach's take: Despite Philly's struggles, coach Brad Stevens killed them with kindness. "For the first time now, they’re getting healthy," said Stevens. "They are big and long. I think they’ve put a real premium and priority on length and athleticism. So, Tony Wroten’s had a good start to his year; Michael Carter-Williams is now back and healthy. I think the bigs have all progressed well. [Nerlens] Noel did a lot of good things in the last few films I’ve watched. Hey, Philly has given us problems with how hard they play, how long they are, and I think they are hungry. We have to be hungry. It’s a big game for us, as is everyone, but because it’s next and because we’ve lost a couple in a row now, this is a big big deal for us."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
19.5 1.6 0.9 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.3
AssistsE. Turner 3.4
StealsK. Olynyk 1.2
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8