Celtics - Warriors preview: Going in opposite directions

Celtics - Warriors preview: Going in opposite directions
January 10, 2014, 12:45 pm
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When the Boston Celtics left for their West coast trip, the Golden State Warriors were one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

Now with their game being just hours away, not a whole lot has changed.

Golden State is coming off a loss at Brooklyn, which snapped a 10-game winning streak and just as significant, kept the Warriors one win shy of becoming the first team in NBA history to win all seven games of a road trip that was seven or more games long.

"Give them credit. It was a great job by them," Golden State coach Mark Jackson told reporters after his team's 102-98 loss to the Nets. "But we will not lose sight of the fact that we were 6-1 on this road trip."

Meanwhile, the Celtics stumble into town riding a six-game losing streak, and defeats in nine of their last 10 games.

However, they closed out Wednesday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers playing some of their most inspired basketball on the trip.

"My thought was we played with a greater sense of urgency," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. "I'm a lot more concerned with our urgency than playing relaxed. We missed some opportunities at the end in transition. I thought we could have been right there. This game was never over."

The same could be said for the Boston Celtics' season which is as dim now as we've seen all season.

"Guys gotta look in the mirror," said Boston's outspoken Gerald Wallace. "It's gotta be individual. It's gotta be timeout for I. And what can I do to help us win. What can I do to help the team win? What can I come out on the court and provide to make our team better? Right now it's just too much of I. Too many guys just trying to do it on their own and in this league, that's hard to do."

Here are some other keys in tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Golden State is one of the NBA's top rebounding clubs which will once again be an issue for the Celtics. But another problem that seems to be growing with each loss, is how stagnant Boston's offense has become. It seems after they grab a defensive rebound, they are looking to slow things down and run a play in a half court set as opposed to occasionally taking a rebound and looking to attack the defense before they get a chance to get set. Figuring out the balance between those two things will go far in Boston's quest at an upset.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Stephen Curry

Bradley's scoring is up to 17.2 points per game in January, but he has to revert back to being a lock-down, on-the-ball pest defensively against one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA. He has been solid all season, but games in which his defense dominated the action have been few and far between.

Meanwhile, Curry is making a strong case to unseat injured Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul as the league's best point guard. Curry is averaging 23.1 points and 9.4 assists per game this season — both career highs.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The Splash brothers (Curry and Klay Thompson) get a lot of attention, but don't forget that David Lee is an All-Star in his own right. He's averaging an impressive 19.1 points and 10 rebounds per game this season which includes the last six games with at least 20 points scored.

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston has to generate easy scores to have a shot at winning tonight, and Golden State should be rather accommodating. The Warriors commit 17.3 turnovers per game (that's 29th in the NBA) and give up 18.9 points off of those miscues which is the second-highest average in the league.