Celtics-Warriors preview: Curry ready for C's defense

Celtics-Warriors preview: Curry ready for C's defense
March 1, 2013, 2:15 pm
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BOSTON — Even before dropping a career-high 54 points in Madison Square Garden, Golden State's Stephen Curry was a marked man.

But that performance which came less than 24 hours after dropping 38 at Indiana, has indeed made the bull's eye he faces every night, even bigger.

Especially against teams like the Boston Celtics that take pride in their team defense which will be led by Avery Bradley, the man who will spend a good bit of tonight's game guarding Curry.

"It'll be a challenge, but we're excited about the challenge," said Warriors head coach Mark Jackson. "The coaches in this league, the teams that are well coached, they talk about him (Curry). They're prepared. At the end of the day, Paul Pierce is a marked man. Kevin Garnett is a marked man. They can have big nights.

Jackson added, "at the end of the day, Steph Curry is that good where he can make good defense look bad."

But Bradley along with Courtney Lee, bring a brand of defense to the floor that has consistently given opposing backcourts major problems.

Since Bradley returned to the Celtics lineup on Jan. 2 following surgery to both shoulders, Boston has been among the NBA's elite teams defensively.

Prior to Bradley's return, the Celtics were 14-16 with a defensive rating of 102.4 which ranked 17th in the NBA.

Since bradley's return, the Celtics' defensive rating is 97.2 which ranks second in the NBA during that span.

And while the Celtics have indeed been a better team defensively of late, much of the credit has gone to - and rightfully so - the emergence of Bradley's defense.

Which is why Curry, while remaining confident in himself, understands it won't be easy for him to score with such ease as he did against New York and Indiana.

"I know that's his (Bradley's) reputation. He's a great on-the-ball defender," Curry said. "You understand you can't be loose with the ball in front of him. You can't be passive at all. He's known to make certain guys have long nights. But when the game starts, I'll be prepared."

So will the Celtics who will look to win their second straight and third in the last four games, tonight.

Here are some keys to tonight's game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The return of David Lee from a one-game suspension will provide yet another stiff challenge on the boards for Boston. Lee averages 19 points and 11 rebounds this season. In 21 career games against Boston, Lee has averaged 15.7 points and 10 rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Courtney Lee vs Klay Thompson: As much as the talk leading into tonight's game will center around Stephen Curry, his backcourt mate causes just as many problems because of his size (6-foot-7), length and ability to score in bunches. Keeping Thompson in single digits scoring will be a job well done considering it's only happened once in the last nine Golden State games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul Pierce and that his pinched nerve injury creates some level of uncertainty every game for both the Captain and the Celtics with there being no way of knowing if - or when - it will flare up. So the importance of him getting off to a good start takes on even more significance now.

STAT TO TRACK: Limiting the high scoring Warriors has been a key to most teams finding success against them. In the month of February, Golden State was held to less than 100 points four times with each resulting in a loss.