OAKLAND, Calif. Game-planning in the NBA is an on-the-fly job that's filled with twists and turns at a moment's notice.
No time during the season is this more true than the days leading up to the NBA trading deadline, which is officially off and running after the Celtic's opponent tonight, Golden State, was part of a five-player deal with Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
The Warriors acquired Andrew Bogut (who is out with a left ankle injury) and former Golden State swingman Stephen Jackson, while shipping out Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown (who is also out, with a chest injury).
For Boston, this actually might work out well for them tonight.
Because of the number of players involved, the trade won't become official until physicals are taken and that will likely take a few days.
Regardless, the Celtics can't afford to focus on what other teams may or may not have.
They have enough problems of their own trying to find ways to stockpile wins and improve their playoff position.
"We can't worry about anything but how can we keep getting better, and find ways to win games," C's guard Avery Bradley toldCSNNE.com. "That's the only thing we're concentrating on right now."
Here are a few things that are likely to factor into whether the C's can continue their strong play since returning from the all-star break, against a Golden State team that will be short-handed.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR Without Monta Ellis, who will pick up the 21.9 points and 19 shot attempts he had, per game. Stephen Curry is a logical choice, but with his never-ending ankle issues, Warriors coach Mark Jackson doesn't have a true feel for how much he can get on a nightly basis from Curry. If Curry isn't getting the bulk of those shots, keep an eye on rookie Klay Thompson whose development was among the reasons the Warriors were willing to trade Ellis. He's averaging 8.2 points per game this season, but has reached double figures in Golden State's last five games - his longest double figure scoring stretch this season.
MATCHUP TO WATCH Brandon Bass vs. David Lee: Bass' mid-range game has been strong all year, but lately he's starting to get it done defensively as well. Lee will be a good test for him. The two have comparable size and can be physical. But you have to like Bass' chances when he steps away from the basket and shoots. Not only is it a situation that plays to his strengths, but it also keeps Lee further away from the basket which for the C's, is a good thing.
PLAYER TO WATCH Avery Bradley's improved play offensively has been one of the reasons the Celtics have been a better team since returning from the all-star break. He's showing that, in addition to being a strong defender, he can also make teams pay by leaving him alone on the perimeter or losing track of him cutting to the basket. With Bass now a starter, Boston will need someone to step up and become more of a scorer off the bench. Bradley appears to be up for the challenge. "Whatever they need me to do, that's what I want to do," Bradley said. "Of course defense is always going to be my priority. But there times when my teammates will need me to score, too. I'm just trying to stay ready, be ready for whatever Doc and the coaching staff needs me to do."
STAT TO TRACK This will be one of the few nights where the Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA, might actually win the battle on the boards. As bad as Boston is, the Warriors aren't that much better. In fact, they rank 26th in rebounding compared to the dead-last Celtics, at No. 30. Forget about Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce when it comes to the team's rebounding numbers. Boston has to get more from guys like Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley. "It has to be more of a team effort on the boards," Bradley admitted. "I know myself, all the guards really, have to do a better job of that, than what we're doing now."