Celtics-Bobcats review: What we saw . . .

Celtics-Bobcats review: What we saw . . .
March 27, 2012, 3:23 am
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. Paul Pierce went to the free throw line 18 times in Boston's 102-95 win over Charlotte.

As well as Pierce was at getting to the line, his play set the tone for the rest of the Celtics, too.

In fact, Boston went to the line 45 times which easily surpassed their previous season high which was 34 attempts against Oklahoma City on Feb. 22.

"He's the Captain," Celtics forward Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com. "We follow his lead . . . free throws, too."

Bass went to the line eight times (he made seven) as part of his 15-point, five-rebound night.

As you might expect, C's coach Doc Rivers was pleased with his team's ability to get to the free throw line so often.

"We've talked about that," Rivers said. "We would like to get to the line more, obviously. I thought we did a good job of driving and attacking the basket tonight. That was good."

Boston's ability to live at the free throw line - they made 34 of their 45 free throw attempts - played a big role in their win. We'll review some keys to the game outlined earlier, and see how they factored in the game's outcome.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: As bad as Charlotte has been, one of the few bright spots has been their leading scorer, Corey Maggette. His 15.4 points per game shouldn't scare you if you're the Celtics. It's how he gets a good chunk of those points that's of great concern for Boston. Throughout most of Maggette's career, he has been one of the best at getting to the free throw line. This season is no exception. He ranks fifth in the NBA in free throws made (5.8) per game, and is seventh in attempts (6.9).
WHAT WE SAW: Two early fouls limited Corey Maggette's playing time. But even when he returned and fouls weren't an issue, he wasn't getting into the lane often enough to draw contact and get to the line a lot. He missed six of his seven shots from the field, and was 3-for-4 from the line with both free throws made and free throws attempted being below his season average.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Tyrus Thomas: Now that he's with the starters, Brandon Bass is used to matching up against taller players. But Thomas' height advantage as well as his athleticism, will challenge Bass in ways few players have this season. Keeping his fellow LSU Tiger from having a big game scoring or on the boards, will be a bigger priority for Bass than what he has done best all year - score the ball.

WHAT WE SAW: Thomas' length or height advantage was never a factor, as Bass had little problem getting his shot off or keeping Thomas from being a dominate force on the boards. In addition to outscoring Thomas 15-4, Bass did a pretty good job of matching him rebound for rebound. Bass finished with five rebounds while Thomas had six. However, three of Bass' rebounds were on the offensive glass while Thomas had zero offensive rebounds.

PLAYER TO WATCH: All eyes will be on Avery Bradley, who is coming off a career-high 23 points against Washington. He got a lot of points off simply cutting to the basket, but he also made the Wizards pay when they left him alone on jumpers. We'll see if the Bobcats will adjust the way they defend Bradley, or will they do what most teams do and that's focus on Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo which in turn, allows Bradley the freedom to make plays.

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley didn't have a huge game offensively, but the Celtics are more than happy to take his 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting anyway. However, foul trouble limited his effectiveness defensively at times in the fourth, which was part of the reason why Charlotte's Gerald Henderson (21 points) had such a big scoring night.

STAT TO TRACK: Both of these rank among the NBA's worst in rebounding, so winning the battle on the boards becomes a toss-up. Boston ranks dead-last in rebounds per game (46), while the Bobcats aren't much better at 48.7 per game which ranks 27th in the league. Even more telling is the rebounding deficit per game for Boston and Charlotte is 5.6 and 5.1, respectively.
WHAT WE SAW: There are very few nights when the Celtics out-rebound an opponent, but Monday was one of them. The C's grabbed 37 boards compared to 33 for Charlotte.