Celtics-Warriors preview: C's in search of a win

Celtics-Warriors preview: C's in search of a win
December 29, 2012, 5:47 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO The NBA and the stock market are not one in the same especially when it comes to forecasting future success based on the past.

That's too bad for the Boston Celtics, who otherwise would feel pretty good about their prospects for victory heading into tonight's game at Golden State.

The C's have dominated this series in recent years, stringing together victories in each of their last three trips to Oracle Arena.

But the Warriors, much like the C's last opponent (the Los Angeles Clippers) are a much different - and better - team now than they have been in past years.

Golden State (20-10) is off to one of their best starts in years, giving their always-rabid fan base even more to cheer about.

This is only the third time since winning an NBA title in 1975 that the Warriors have 20 or more wins after the first 30 games of the season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (14-14) are looking for one thing tonight: a victory.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

"That's the approach we have to take to every game on this trip," said C's guard Jason Terry. "We want to develop some consistency, obviously. But you have to starting winning games first."

Sounds good and relatively easy to do.

But as we have seen all season with the Celtics, most things are easier - much easier - said than done.

The Celtics are still licking their wounds from a 106-77 thrashing Thursday night at the hands of the Clippers, easily the worst defeat of the season for the C's and among the worst since the 2008 championship season.

Boston has tried an assortment of lineup combinations with none showing any signs of being one the C's can consistently count on to produce.

It has created a darkening cloud over this season's team, a squad that talked boldly at the beginning of the season as one that could play with the best.

Oh, they're playing with the best - just not very well.

Here are some keys to tonight's game as the Celtics look to avoid slipping below-.500 for the first time since Nov. 9.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Rajon Rondo needs to put his imprint on this game for the Celtics to be successful. That means doing what he does best - getting assists. The league's top assist man has failed to reach double digits in five of the Celtics' last six games.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs David Lee: Garnett has been solid as ever, but Lee has been on another level all season. In Golden State's win over Philadelphia on Friday, Lee had 25 points and 12 rebounds for his 13th 20-point, 10-rebound game this season - tops in the NBA.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee continues to gradually improve as the season goes on, but he still hasn't had that one defining moment-type game for the Celtics. They could use one tonight against a Golden State team that has quality scorers on the perimeter that he will have to contend with, in addition to a team that's playing solid defense.

STAT TO TRACK: The Celtics once again face a team whose strength will pose an even greater challenge to what has been the C's biggest weakness this season - rebounding. The Warriors are the league's fifth-best rebounding team this season while the Celtics maintain their position as the league's worst on the boards.