Tonight's game against the Nets is going to be a good one for several reasons. First, New Jersey is a perennial Atlantic division rival. Teams have to beat teams in their division. The Atlantic division, or Titanic division as it has been called, has been one of the worst in the NBA for several years. In '04-05, The Celtics won the division with a 45-37 record with NJ coming in third at 42-40. The following season, New Jersey won the division with a 49-33 record and was the only team in the Atlantic with a winning record. Last season, The Raptors won the division with a 47-35 record and the Nets were second right at .500, 41-41. This season, the Celtics lead not only the Atlantic but the entire NBA with a 29-4 record. Behind them, the Nets and Raptors are tied at 18-17. The other two teams in the Atlantic division, the Knicks and Sixers, don't figure to challenge for anything any time soon.
Both the Celtics and the Nets have a Big Three, or a trio of three All Stars to lead the team. For the Nets, they have Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson. The Celtics have Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. Two of the respective trios match up against each other with Pierce on Jefferson and Ray Allen on Jefferson. The key to this game may be the play of the matchups of the other two. Jason Kidd vs Rajon Rondo will be crucial. Kidd has had 4 triple doubles in a row and is on a roll. If Rondo can take him out of his game, it will go a long way toward neutralizing the Nets' offense as so much of it goes through Kidd. KG will be matched up against Sean Williams who is strong and a very good shot blocker but KG has the advantage in height and in experience. KG needs to exploit this matchup.
Momentum is on the Nets side in that they handily beat the Sonics in their last game with their Big Three rolling as Richard Jefferson dropped 28, Vince Carter scoring 18 and Jason Kidd getting 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics on the other hand dropped a stinker to the Bobcats 95-83 where Ray Allen sat out and Pierce went for 13 points and 8 rebounds and KG finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds. However, after each of the Celtics other 3 losses, they came back to blow out their next opponents by an average of 31 points - beating Golden State by 23, New York by 45 and Chicago by 25. The Celtics played no defense in their last game.
The Celtics have not lost two games in a row all season and so this game will be a pride thing. If they don't come out strong in this one and go for the jugular, you have to question their heart. You have to beat your divisional rivals. Besides, we should win this one for Scal who has to like beating his old team.