Celtics-Grizzlies preview: Blowout blowback

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Celtics-Grizzlies preview: Blowout blowback

BOSTON The mounting losses have been disappointing in and of themselves to Celtics coach Doc Rivers. When you pile on the fact that many of those losses have come in blowout fashion, that just adds insult to injury.

And as lopsided as things have been in defeat for the Celtics, the C's have shown the ability to dominate in victory which speaks volumes about how inconsistent their play has been this season.

"It's amazing, the difference for us when we win and lose games," Rivers said. "The numbers are startling. That's what we have to improve."

They will get an opportunity tonight against a Memphis (19-9) team that is among the best in the West despite dropping three of its last four games.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (14-16) are trying to snap a three-game losing skid in which they were beaten by an average of 23 points per game.

Rivers would love for his club to win more games, obviously. But the overwhelmingly decisive manner in which they have won and lost this season, is disturbing.

In their 14 wins, the C's average margin of victory is by 9.1 points per game. In the 16 losses, Boston is getting beat by an average of 12.2 points per game.

More than anything else, it reinforces Rivers' theory that his players allow their shot-making to dictate their play defensively.

"We gotta buy into it. When you buy into the defenisve part of it, it makes it easier," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "Some of the new guys, their offense has always been what triggered how they play. Now they're at a place where we want you to play well offensively, but if it doesn't work out we don't care."

Here are some other keys to tonight's game as the Celtics look to win for the sixth time in their last seven games at the TD Garden.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Memphis has one of the best 1-2 frontcourt punches with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Their ability to control the action inside the paint is at the heart of why Memphis ranks among the NBA leaders in points in the paint (43.7, 7th) and rebounds (52.5, 8th) per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Zach Randolph. Although Garnett's production has dipped since moving to power forward, the C's remain convinced that this will benefit him and the Celtics over the long haul. Randolph remains one of the more under-rated talents in the NBA, averaging 17 points and 12.5 rebounds per game this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: It's Avery Bradley, easily. His long-awaited return should provide a boost of energy -- or at the very least, better play defensively -- that the Celtics are in desperate need right now.

STAT TO TRACK: Scoring will indeed be at a premium for the Celtics against a stingy Grizzlies defense that's giving up an NBA-low 90 points per game. Boston has failed to score 90 or more points in two of their last three games.

Morning Skate: Asking price on Shattenkirk should scare off Bruins

Morning Skate: Asking price on Shattenkirk should scare off Bruins

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after watching the Boston Celtics take a hard pass on the Boogie. 
 
-- Bob McKenzie sits in with the good folks at TSN 1200 Ottawa sports radio and talks a little Claude Julien of the Montreal Canadiens

-- The Avalanche youth movement is set to begin as quickly as March 1, as Colorado may move some of its veteran players at the trade deadline. 
 
-- Ryan Johansen got snubbed in his return to Columbus for the first time as a member of the Nashville Predators. That’s too bad, but it’s also not exactly Wayne Gretzky returning to the Edmonton Oilers for the first time. 
 
-- The price tag for Kevin Shattenkirk is in and it includes a top prospect and a first-round pick, along with another piece, for a rental defenseman. That should be far too rich for the Bruins’ blood. The B's were already intent on avoiding the rental market ahead of the trade deadline, and the steep price -- even for a potentially useful short-term acquisition like the puck-moving Shattenkirk -- should make that even more of a certainty. 
 
-- Ken Campbell asks whether hockey agents have gone too far in chasing after prospective prospects before they even enter their teenage years. 

 -- Bobby Ryan has a hand injury that’s going to sideline him, another piece of bad luck for the Senators forward. 
 
-- For something completely different: On President’s Day, it seems only natural to go through the favorite Presidents in the history of the Marvel Universe.