Celtics-Spurs preview: Protecting what's theirs


Celtics-Spurs preview: Protecting what's theirs

BOSTON The point guard battle tonight between Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker will certainly be one of the game's main story lines. Both rank among the NBA's leaders in assists and maintain a firm grip on the offensive flow of their respective teams. They're also both among the league's leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Rondo, the league's assists leader with 13.1 per game, ranks sixth in assists-to-turnover ratio at 3.64. And Parker whose 7.7 assists per game ranks eighth in the NBA, has a 4.28 assists-to-turnover ratio that places him fourth among the league leaders.

Their individual assist-to-turnover ratio helps set the tone for what has been two of the league's better teams in this category.

The Celtics have a 1.743 assist-to-turnover ratio this season that ranks second in the league while the Spurs' 1.618 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks sixth.

Keeping a relatively high assist-to-turnover ratio will be an important factor for tonight's winner. Here are some other keys to pay attention to as the Celtics look to get back on track with a victory after losing two of their three previous games.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: This is yet another game in which the Celtics will have a decent shot at winning, or at the very least competing, on the boards. Like the C's, the Spurs are among the NBA's worst rebounding clubs in part because they shoot a relatively high percentage.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan. While this matchup doesn't have the same kind of sizzle as it did a few years back, there's no mistaking the impact these two future Hall of Famers still have on their respective teams.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass is too good a shooter to continue to miss so many shots within his range. In Boston's last three games, he is 10-for-29 shooting. Do not be surprised if the C's try to get him going early tonight.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston's defense will be put to the test down the stretch against a San Antonio squad that's averaging a league-best 27.6 points in the fourth quarter. Boston has shown that it too has some fourth quarter offensive pop, averaging 25.4 points which is fifth among teams in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Celtics defensively have given up an average of 25.4 points in the fourth quarter which ranks 24th in the league compared to a San Antonio defense that's giving up 23.8 points in the fourth which ranks 18th in the league.