Celtics-Nets preview: Protecting home court


Celtics-Nets preview: Protecting home court

BOSTON The Celtics (8-6 overall, 4-3 at home) haven't had as much success as they would like -- or as much as they expect -- when playing at home this season.

And while there are many areas to which they can point in need of major improvement at the TD Garden, turnovers should not be one of them.

Boston comes into tonight's game against the Brooklyn Nets having committed fewer turnovers than their opponent in each of their seven home games this season.

The only time the C's had a streak this long came during the 1997-1998 season when they reeled off 10 such performances at home.

Triggering Boston's low-turnover brand of basketball is Rajon Rondo, who continues to rack up a ridiculously high number of assists with very few turnovers.

In addition to his 13.5 points and NBA-best 13.7 assists per game, Rondo is only turning the ball over 4.14 times per game.

Among players who log 30 or more minutes per game, Rondo's nearest competitor is Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul who averages 9.5 assists per game and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.91.

Rondo's ability to keep his turnovers low as well as the C's overall turnover tally, will be among the keys in tonight's Atlantic Division matchup.

Here are some other keys to tonight's game as the C's try to even the head-to-head series at one game apiece . . .

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Brooklyn has the ability to post-up teams at just about every position within their starting five, the kind of luxury that makes it difficult to keep them from scoring in the paint. The Nets average 43.4 points in the paint which ranks 10th among NBA teams. That would be a pretty average night against a Celtics defense that ranks 28th in allowed points in the paint, at 43.6.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Brook Lopez. The Big Ticket will have his hands full against Lopez who has established himself as one of the best centers in the East this season. Lopez is averaging 19.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass has emerged as a solid rebounding presence for the Celtics, something he'll need to continue doing against a Brooklyn team that's among the NBA's best rebounding squads. Bass is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game this season, but has snatched eight per game during the C's last three games.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston's fourth-quarter offense will be put to the test against a Brooklyn team that has made life difficult for most during the game's final moments. The Nets are giving up 21.3 points per game in the fourth quarter, the NBA's third-lowest total in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Celtics' fourth-quarter offense is churning out 25.3 points in the fourth, fifth in the NBA.