Coming off one of their worst losses in the Kevin Garnett era, the Celtics head to Oracle Arena, where things will not get any easier.
Golden State is off to a fantastic start, and has won 13 of its last 17 games.
The first key for Boston avoiding a two-game losing streak is continuity.
Defense, which was once the identity of the Celtics, can no longer consistently be relied upon.
On Offense, the team has placed a lot on Paul Pierce’s shoulders, and “the Truth” needs some help.
Given the weapons that the Celtics have, good ball movement, working the shot clock, and testing opponents defense, will help to create a potent team offense. Since Garnett’s arrival, the team has been one of the most effective in the half court game.
If they are to satisfy their lofty expectations, Boston must return to form.
Defensively, the team has not gelled either. Many expected for the new additions to make a seamless transition; despite being veterans, these players come from different systems that features different terminology.
It takes time for everyone to get comfortable playing with each other, but it shouldn’t take this long. The Celtics need to communicate.
Furthermore, the team appears to disappear for spurts of a game; pouncing on any opportunity they have to take plays off. It’s only December, but with all the issues plaguing this team, you would think there’d be more effort.
Continuity on both ends of the floor will go a long way towards a Boston victory.
The Celtics will also need to put forth a great deal of energy tonight. The Warriors are a young team, who like to run the floor. Offensively, they feature dangerous three-point shooters such as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson who they like to run off curls. Boston is going to be chasing these two throughout the game and any play taken off, will result in a Golden State basket.
A more tangible key for tonight is rebounding. Mark Jackson’s club ranks fourth in rebounds per game, averaging 45.8. The Warriors are one of the more active teams on the glass the Celtics have faced thus far. Getting a body on the likes of David Lee, who is having an all-star season, will be crucial.
Boston has lost 12 of its last 16 in Golden State and a strong showing from the bench might help the team earn their second-straight victory at the Oracle.
Jeff Green, who proved he can be an effective low-post scorer in the win over Brooklyn, should look to utilize those skills against an undersized second-unit. If matched up with Carl Landry – a terrific defender – Green should bring him out to the wing and use his speed to get to the basket.
Jared Sullinger will also get to see undersized power forwards tonight, and should be extra aggressive in the post and attacking the offensive glass.
Tonight’s final key is the Jason Terry-Courtney Lee combo. The Celtics need scoring and need Terry to feel comfortable looking to create for himself. Even if it comes with a handful of bad shots, if “the Jet” is scoring, the team will happily live with it.
As for Lee, this is game is an opportunity for him to show fans just how hard he has been working. Defense is largely effort and if Lee can chase Curry and Thompson around the court, pestering the two, it will help him to win over Celtic Nation, and his team to pick up a victory.