Celtics - Nets preview: Babb, Johnson fit their roles

Celtics - Nets preview: Babb, Johnson fit their roles
March 21, 2014, 1:30 pm
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NEW YORK - Being around for as long as possible is the goal every NBA player signed on a 10-day contract is seeking.

Chris Babb is the latest to parlay a pair of 10-day contracts into a multi-year deal with the Boston Celtics.

Chris Johnson, another 10-day player on Boston's roster currently holding down a multi-year deal, blazed a similar trail earlier this season.

"One of the things we talked about with regard to our 10-days and guys that come in, is that we want it to be really high character people," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "Enhance our practices, enhance our team when they get in the game."

Both Johnson and Babb have done that by making high-energy plays such as diving for loose balls, deflecting passes and contesting shots - the kind of things that don't show up in the final stats for the night but go far in winning over players and coaches.

"You're not necessarily looking for them to be guys that are going to come in and average 30 [points] a game," Stevens said. "You're looking for them to be guys that compliment other guys on the team but bring the right attitude to the locker room and on the practice floor."

Here are some other keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  Brooklyn has been a cut-and-paste crew around the basket with Brooke Lopez lost for the season and former Celtic Kevin Garnett's back injury taking longer to heal than anticipated. While one would think that would create more scoring opportunities around the basket for opponents, the Nets have gotten great mileage out of Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche at both ends of the floor.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams

This will be yet another great test to see how far Rondo has come in terms of regaining his elite point guard status. Since the All-Star break, Williams has been one of the league's best players with his ability to score, get his teammates involved and defend. And on top of that, Brooklyn is 11-4 since the break in which D-Will has played.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Avery Bradley is coming off a career night when he scored 23 points which included a career best six made 3s. Boston will need his scoring punch for sure. But he'll have his hands full in dealing with Shaun Livingston who has a good five-inch height advantage.

STAT TO TRACK: The transformation into a solid team rebounding the ball has been a season-long process for the Boston Celtics. The point was drilled home in emphatic fashion in Boston's lone win over the Nets this season. In that March 7 victory, Boston out-rebounded the Nets 62-37 which was a factor in them never trailing in the game.