By Rich Levine
SAN FRANCISCO The Celtics kick off the second half of their season Tuesday night in Golden State, but before you even think about looking past the 26-29 Warriors, here are a few names to consider:
Vin Baker. Jiri Welsch. Mike James. Mark Blount. Jumaine Jones. Marcus Banks.
Why are we mentioning these incompetent (OK, Mike James wasnt that bad) ghosts of Boston past? Well, because all six of those fine gentlemen were wearing the Green and White the last time the Celtics won a game in Golden State.
Thats right. Its been that long. The date was December 29, 2003, and since then the Cs have lost six straight games in Oracle Arena, including all three in the Big Three era.
As to why . . .
Its a great building, number one, said Doc Rivers as the team resumed practice Monday night in San Francisco. They havent been to the playoffs consistently and yet the fans are there every night. The place has unbelievable energy. I love the energy. I just dont like the results lately.
"The matchups they create with all the smalls they put on the floor is tough. And all the smalls can create their own shots. Its not like theyre standing there being shooters. They can all handle the ball. They can all shoot the ball. They create problems.
This years Warriors have created plenty of problems of late. They won seven of their last nine games before the All-Star Break, and six of those came against teams that would currently make the playoffs. The aforementioned smalls leading the way are Monta Ellis, whos the leagues fifth leading scorer at 25.3 a game; second-year sharp shooter Stephon Curry, who's scoring 18.4 and dishing out six assists a night, and swing man Dorell Wright, who joined Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in this weekends three-point contest and is averaging a career best 16.5. In all, the run-and-gun Warriors are the leagues seventh highest scoring team at 102.9 a game.
But despite all the potential issues Golden State presents, Rivers says that the Celtics biggest enemy might be themselves.
Getting back on defense will be key, he said, but our main concern is us. Coming off the break you have to get everybody right, while playing a team thats very good offensively. So, that makes it tough.
But while the Warriors are most known for their offensive firepower, they also have one of the leagues best and most active rebounders in their front court. David Lee, who was acquired from the Knicks this past offseason, is averaging 15.9 points and 9.4 rebounds a game this season, and a career double-double (1410) against the Cs.
Hes a great player, said Kendrick Perkins, wholl be one of the men responsible for keeping Lee contained. He brings a lot to that team. Hes the reason they have however many wins they have. David Lees averaged double-doubles in this league, but were a defensive team so thats how were going to beat them.
Easier said than done for a team that now only has one player remaining from the last time they won a game in Golden State.
I cant even remember the last time, said Pierce.
OK, anyone have Jiri Welschs number?