To get Spurs and Celtics fans ready for tonight's clash between these two veteran teams, I turn to friend of Project Spurs, John Karalis over at Red's Army, to talk about tonight's games.
John discusses Boston's early season performance, the Rondo-Parker matchup, Boston's weakness, and mch more.
Jeff: At 6-5 early in the season, are there concerns on the Celtics' play after 11 games?
John: The main concern is rebounding, which is nothing new, really, for the Celtics. They're horrible at it. It just kills them when they watch opponents extend possession after possession. Oh… and Jeff Green.
But overall, the Celtics really don't sound concerned too much about wins and losses at this point. Sure, there are things that they're trying to fix from game to game, but they will all tell you that it takes time to develop the chemistry necessary to integrate all these new players. Patience is being preached in Boston in a very big way.
San Antonio will be without Stephen Jackson, and Kawhi Leonard thus will have a thin frontcourt. Will this be a blowout for Boston or yet another dogfight between these two veteran teams?
Are you really going to try to get me to pick a blowout here? No, the Spurs are too good, too well coached, for me to say they're going to roll over without a couple of guys, regardless of how "key" they are. Teams as good as the Spurs find a way to stay competitive. This will be a good game.
Rajon Rondo vs. Tony Parker. How do you see this key matchup shaping up?
TP is, still, pretty underrated. I think each will get what they want offensively. Rondo, as good as he CAN be defensively, is too important to the Celtics offensively and, therefore, he saves some of that energy for the offensive end. And, no knock on Parker, but there aren't many guys who can prevent Rondo from doing what he wants offensively. Actually, Rondo's the #1 guy who can do that.
I will caution Spurs fans now, though…. don't be surprise when Rondo starts drilling 20 footers. That notion that he can't shoot? Yeah…. believe that at your own peril.
What weakness in the Celtics' "armor" do you see the Spurs exploiting?
Again, rebounding. If the Spurs keep attacking the boards on jumpers, they'll get a lot of second chances. The Celtics have also had some problems defending the pick and roll early this season. It's gotten better, but I'd test it right away just to make sure. And I'd do with Ginobili and Duncan… not TP. This way, you're avoiding Rondo defensively. I know what I said earlier, but if you run it with Manu and TD, you get either Courtney Lee (who has been lost early this season) or Jason Terry (who isn't going to make a lot of All-Defense teams).
What is your prediction tonight and why?
I'll go with the Celtics by a few points because of the the Spurs' injuries and the C's time off (they haven't played since Sunday). Paul Pierce is going to love facing the Spurs with a depleted wing corps, and he's due for a good shooting night. I also think Rondo is going to send a little message after people criticized him for how he extended his double-digit assist streak (he got his 10th assist in garbage time of a blowout loss). I think he's going to let everyone know just how good of a point guard he is.