Celtics-Clippers preview: Doc's return to Boston

Celtics-Clippers preview: Doc's return to Boston
December 11, 2013, 11:30 am
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BOSTON — While much of the talk leading up to tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers is centered around a certain former point guard's return to Beantown, it is the Clippers' current point guard that Boston needs to be worried about.

Chris Paul is once again having a banner season as one of the NBA's top players -- not just point guards, but players.

Paul comes into tonight's game averaging 18.7 points and a league-best 12 assists per game this season, tallying a double-double in 18 of the 21 games he has played.

For Boston, this will mark the second time in as many nights that they will see one of the NBA's best playmakers at work.

On Tuesday, Boston had to deal with Brooklyn's Deron Williams who made a triumphant return from an ankle injury to score 25 points to go with seven assists in the Nets' 104-96 win.

And like Williams, Paul has also missed some games in this still-young season, because of injuries.

"D-Will came out aggressive," said Boston's Jeff Green. "When you got a point guard like that, and we got one [Wednesday] in Chris Paul who is the leader of that team who can do a lot of things on the floor, it creates another threat."

Here are a few more keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: As much as Doc Rivers preaches defense, defense, defense, he has the kind of team that has been sort of an offensive juggernaut. The Clippers are averaging 104.1 points per game, the fifth-highest scoring offense in the NBA this season. Defensively? The Clippers are 16th in fewest points allowed (99.2) per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Blake Griffin. Forcing Griffin to defend will certainly help Bass in this matchup. But the key will be his ability to force Griffin into becoming more of a shooter and not a dunker in transition which is what Griffin wants to do. Griffin is shooting 52.8 percent from the field this season, but that number plummets to just 38 percent when it comes to him shooting mid-range jumpers.

PLAYER TO WATCH: If the Celtics are to win this game, Jeff Green will likely be a major reason why. He's coming off a solid game (19 points, six rebounds) against Brooklyn on Tuesday night which included a 4-for-4 performance from three-point range. And for tonight's game, he has a favorable matchup against former Boston College star Jared Dudley, who Green lit up for 31 points last season when the Celtics faced Dudley and his former team, the Phoenix Suns. Do not be surprised if the Clippers' newest addition, Stephen Jackson, comes off the bench and sees a decent amount of minutes guarding Green.

STAT TO TRACK: When it comes to big scoring nights, sometimes the Celtics have relied on hot shooting while other times it has been fueled by strong defense which has led to easy scores. Either way, lots of points have been the clearest path towards success for the Celtics. This season, they are 6-0 in games in which they score at least 100 points. At the opposite end of that scoring spectrum is their 0-7 record when they score 89 or fewer points.