Celtics-Spurs preview: Celts expect a challenge

191544.jpg

Celtics-Spurs preview: Celts expect a challenge

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

The Boston Celtics will face one of their biggest tests this season when they battle the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. The Spurs hold the best record in the NBA, and the Celtics are ready for a challenge.

Shaquille ONeal
Theyre one of the best teams in the league and were going to have our hands full. Against a team like that, youve got to do everything right . . . They pose major challenges. We match up with them very well, they match up with us very well. The team that plays the hardest and gets all the loose balls and gets all the rebounds is the team thats probably going to win.
Ray Allen
We cant have a bad start. We cant come out and think that well get back in the game, or well kind of slow roll this into playing good basketball. Theyve got the best record in the league and for a reason. They play well at home and on the road. So we have to come out and we have to execute, weve got to know our personnel, and weve got to make sure we take away the easy stuff.

Nate Robinson
Theyre rolling. Theyre playing well. Ive watched a couple of their games and theyve got everybody clicking on all cylinders. Theyre just a team thats been together for a long time, and then theyve got a couple new pieces - Gary Neal knocking down the shot - youve got the Red Rocket Matt Bonner over there, hes knocking down shots, playing the way theyve been playing. The team chemistry is awesome. So a team like that coming in, weve just got to match their intensity and just play our game and well be fine.
Delonte West
Theyre one of those teams to beat. Theyre playing Spurs basketball, and theyre playing at their top level, a championship level. Itll be a good midseason test for us and for them also. But were not at full strength, I think they may not be, so depending on how many guys we have out there or whos going to be able to go, it might not be a strong indication of whos the better team right now. But its all still a good matchup for both teams . . . Ill be watching on the bench.

Marquis Daniels
Theyre a good team. They play hard and theyre rolling right now. Theyre doing a lot of great things . . . Its a good matchup for us. Weve just got to go out there and continue to do what weve been doing best -- getting after it on the defensive end, getting easy baskets.

Von Wafer
Its going to be a good game and Im excited because its going to tell us a lot about ourselves. Its a big measuring stick for what were trying to accomplish and what we need to work on. I think theyre going to expose any weaknesses we have, and thats a good thing so we can work on them and get them stronger.

Luke Harangody
I think just top to bottom, theyve got a deep squad. Theyve got a number of veteran players that know how to win. Theres a lot of other talk going on, but year after year the Spurs are a quality team, a playoff team.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

The Eastern Conference playoff race, seemingly altered by the moves -- and non-moves (hello there, Celtics) -- of some of the contenders, just took another twist.

The Raptors, bolstered by the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and appearing poised to make a run toward the top of the standings after a come-from-behind victory over the Celtics on Friday, were hit with a body blow Monday when it was announced All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry needs surgery on his right wrist and may miss the remainder of the regular season.

ESPN reports Lowry is expected to be sidelined from four to eight weeks. Toronto hopes to have him back for the playoffs.

The Raptors are currently in fourth place in the conference at 35-24, trailing Cleveland (40-17), Boston (38-21) and Washington (34-23). Without Lowry, and facing a rough, six-of-their-next-seven-games-on-the-road stretch, Toronto may stop focusing on catching the Wizards and/or Celtics and focus on holding off Atlanta (32-26) in order to hold onto home-court in the first round.

Lowry, 30, who missed the last two games because of the injury, is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game. He also is averaging 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds.

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder isn't backing down.

The Atlanta Hawks point guard again was asked about Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, and the budding rivalry between the two players that's turned into a rivalry between the two teams. Thomas, of course, was accused by Schroder of taking his trash talking a bit too far during the teams' last meeting, a 103-101 Celtics victory last month in which Thomas hit the game-winning shot with just seconds remaining.

Thomas' comments allegedly were about Schroder's family, per Schroder himself. Thomas has since repeatedly denied the claims. So does Schroder still deny Thomas' side of the story?

“I mean, yeah. Everybody heard it, too," Schroder said. "My family sat courtside too. And (Hawks teammate) Thabo (Sefolosha) heard some things, you know, and he was involved in it. But it is what it is. Like I said, we just try to compete. And you know, it’s getting heated in the game. It is what it is."

Schroder didn't dive much deeper than denying Thomas' claims of innocence. But is there something about Thomas inparticular that gets under Schroder's skin or runs him the wrong way?

Nah, I mean he’s a great player, he’s showing it this year," Schroder said. "I mean, what he did in the playoffs last year was just not, you know, professional. And I think nobody wants to see that but it’s fine. We just try to compete and try to help our team win the basketball game."

Schroder was referring to the back-and-forth physical play between himself and Thomas that resulted in flagrant fouls for both during the first-round playoff matchup betweein the clubs, a series Atlanta eventually won four games to two. Thomas' status was in doubt for Game 4 of the series after a hit to Schroder's head in Game 3, but the now two-time All-Star ultimately was allowed to play.

"Everybody’s competitive. Everybody tries to get out, get after it," Schroder explained when asked if his feud with Thomas fuels his team any extra. "I think it’s a big game tonight and the team knows it. I’m pretty sure the Celtics know it too. It’s getting close to the playoffs and every game counts."

Boston and Atlanta tip off from TD Garden at 7:30 p.m.