Celtics-Warriors preview: Defending the three

Celtics-Warriors preview: Defending the three
March 5, 2014, 2:00 pm
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BOSTON — Often the last game on a long road trip is toughest, both mentally and physically.

The Celtics certainly hope so with the Golden State Warriors coming to town, looking to close out their six-game East coast trip with a win that would raise their record during the trip to 4-2.

And the Celtics should also benefit from having not played since Saturday while Golden State is coming off a 98-96 win at Indiana on Tuesday night.

"You never know what's an advantage and what's not," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "Sometimes you're riding the adrenaline of the trip. Sometimes you had games where you didn't play well earlier in the trip and you play great at the end."

The Warriors certainly fall into that category after handing the Pacers a rare home loss following a jumper by Klay Thompson with six-tenths of a second remaining.

"That's why you play; to fight to score to win," Thompson, who had 25 points, told reporters afterwards. "It was a lot of fun, especially winning on the road, silencing a crowd."

And with that, there lies the potential for a Golden State letdown, too. That, coupled with the Celtics being the more rested team on paper at least appear to be favorable factors for Boston.

"I don't know that that stuff's predictable," Stevens said. "The biggest thing is they're a good basketball team."

Here are some other keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston's struggling three-point defense will be put to the test against a Golden State team that ranks seventh in the NBA in three-pointers taken per game (24.3).

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs. Stephen Curry
As Rondo works his way back towards being an elite point guard, these are the kind of head-to-head battles that will give him and the Celtics a feel for just how close -- or far away -- he is from being that player again. Curry has elevated himself to being not just a top-flight guard, but arguably a top-10 talent in the league this season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger will need to be at or near double-double mode tonight against a Warriors team that ranks among the NBA's best in rebounding.

STAT TO TRACK: Golden State is one of the league's best when it comes to ball movement. This is apparent with them averaging 22.8 assists per game which ranks 10th in the NBA.