at Washington Wizards (21-57) at Boston Celtics (54-24)
Friday, April 8
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #79, Home Game #40
TV: CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 756/757
Radio: WEEI, WJFK
Referees: Tom Washington, Josh Tiven, Leon Wood
This is the 3rd of 4 games between these two teams. They will meet again on April 11. The series is tied 1-1 as the Celtics dropped a game they should have won on the road against the Wizards back in January.
Coming off a very lackluster performance in a game that they said they wanted to send a message in, the Celtics once again dropped into a tie with the Heat for the 2nd spot. Miami is in action against the Bobcats and so should the Celtics give a half effort again in this game, they may find themselves a full game behind Miami at the end of the night.
The Celtics are 31-8 at home while the Wizards are just 3-36 on the road. In their last 10 games, the Celtics are 5-5 and the Wizards are 4-6. The Celtics have been struggling and even the players are starting to question whether they can get it together in time for the playoffs as seen in Rondo's comments after last night's game.
"It's not the same team. We're not going to be able to turn it on like we did last year. Even last year, we came up short [in Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals]. I don't know what we're waiting on, but these type of games we have to find a way to win.
at Boston Celtics (54-23) at Chicago Bulls (57-20)
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #78. Road Game #39
TV: TNT, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, WMVP
Referees: Ron Garretson, Mark Ayotte, David Guthrie This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams and it is an important one. The Bulls are 3 games ahead of the Celtics in the seedings and the Celtics are back to 1/2 game ahead of the Heat for the 2nd seed. A Celtics win would move them to within 2 games of the top seed and a loss would drop them to 4 games back and pretty much eliminate them from any hopes of the top seed. It would also drop them back into the 3rd spot, half game behind Miami once again.
The Celtics lead the series 2-1 and in case of a tie, a lead in the series would give the Celtics the tie breaker. The Bulls won their last meeting, although both Noah and KG missed that meeting. The Celtics don't want to go into the playoffs having lost 2 in a row to a team that they will more than likely need to go through to win the East.
Much has changed for the Celtics since that loss in January. They had both O'Neals for that game but JO was injured and very limited. KG didn't play and Big Baby started at PF along with Shaq at center. The bench now has Jeff Green, Delonte, and Krstic off the bench in place of Quisy, Nate and Semih. The Celtics were also playing in the second of back to back games in that one. Even though they don't have Shaq the Celtics are a much better team going into this one than they were in that loss. On the Bulls side, they were without Joakim Noah and the only change in their bench is that they have added Rasual Butler.
The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have won 2 in a row. The Bulls are 8-2 in their last 10 and have won their last 4. The Celtics are 23-15 on the road while the Bulls are 34-5 at home. This will be a huge game for both teams. Both teams are talented and both teams are well coached. The team that executes best on both ends of the court will get the win. While neither team will call this a statement game, a win will send a statement nonetheless.
Jermaine was quoted as saying that this isn't about the seeding. It's about the message. What message will the Celtics send? If they play like they did against the Sixers and play as a team with as strong focus, the message will be that they can beat the Bulls, home court or no home court.
at Philadelphia 76ers (40-37) at Boston Celtics (53-23)
Tuesday, April 5
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #77 – Home Game #39
TV: CSN-NE, TCN-P, NBA-LP 758
Radio: WEEI, WIP
Referees: Ed Malloy, Matt Boland, Brian Forte This is the 4th and final meeting between these two division rivals. The Celtics won 2 of the first 3 games with the Sixers winning the last one. All three games were close with the Celtics notching a 1 point win and a 4 point win and the Sixers winning by 3. 7 of the last 9 games between these two teams have all been decided by 4 points or less.
If the playoffs were to begin today, the Celtics and Sixers would be matched up as first round opponents. The Sixers are in 6th place, 4 games behind Atlanta and just 1.5 games ahead of New York. The Celtics are in 3rd place, 3 games behind Chicago for the top seed and .5 game behind Miami for the second spot. The Celtics are 5.5 games ahead of the Magic who are the 4th seed.
The Celtics have had injuries plaguing them all season while the Sixers have been fairly healthy with only 7 players missing a total of 40 games this season due to injury, illness, suspension, etc. Compare that with 247 games missed by Celtics players this season. The Sixers have had the same starting 5 for each meeting this season while this will be the 4th different starting lineup for the Celtics vs the Sixers.
The Sixers come into this game slightly banged up with Andre Iguodala playing through a knee injury that has slowed him somewhat, but he is expected to play in this game. The Sixers 6th man strained his hamstring in Saturday's loss to the Bucks and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. To replace Williams the Sixers will sign 36 year old Antonio Daniels to a 10 day contract. Daniels averaged 14.5 points and 8.6 assists with the Texas Legends of the NBDL this season. He is expected to join the team on Tuesday morning. The Celtics expect to get both Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy back for this game but will once again be without Shaquille O'Neal.
The Sixers are just 15-25 on the road but they have also won 10 of their last 17 on the road and would love to finish up their road games with a win. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are 30-8 at home and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Since this is a possible first round opponent, the Celtics must keep their focus in this game in order to avoid giving the Sixers a boost of confidence going into the playoffs.
Detroit Pistons (26-49) at Boston Celtics (52-23)
Sunday, April 3
6:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #76 – Home Game #38
TV: CSNNE, FSD, NBA-LP 751/752
Radio: WEEI, WWJ
Referees: Greg Willard, Pat Fraher, Derek Richardson This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics lead the series 2-1 with the loss coming in Detroit in December. Both teams have been struggling with the Celtics losers of 4 of their last 6 games and the Pistons losers of 7 of their last 10 games. The Pistons have lost 9 in a row on the road and the Celtics would like to make that streak continue. The Celtics have lost their last 2 at home and they definitely would like to reverse that trend.
The Celtics are coming off a loss to the Hawks at the end of their 4 game road trip. The Pistons are coming off a surprisingly close 96-101 loss to the Bulls. The loss to the Hawks dropped the Celtics in to the 3rd spot in the East, 3.5 games behind Chicago for the top seed and half a game behind Miami for the second seed. The Pistons are out of the playoffs and are playing for ping pong balls but have still been playing hard as evidenced by their effort against the Bulls.
The Celtics shouldn't take this team for granted because they can be dangerous if you leave the door open for them. They commit the fewest turnovers in the league with 12.8 a game. However, they have turned the ball over 20 + times in their last 3 games. Their bench is also 4th in the league in bench points at 39.1 points per game which isn't a surprise with Stuckey, Gordon, Villanueva and Maxiell coming off the bench. The Celtics will need to get production from their bench on both ends of the court.
The Celtics are still short handed up front as Krstic is expected to miss several games with the bone bruise to his knee. Jermaine O'Neal is back but is limited as he gets his rhythm and conditioning back. There have been rumors of Shaq possibly returning in this game but I'll believe it when I see it. There haven't been any reports on Murphy recently. Maybe with the way he has played, they are trying to forget about him.
The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and lost their last game. The Pistons are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have lost 2 in a row. But, as well as the Bulls have been playing, the Pistons stayed right with them in their last loss. The Celtics are 29-8 at home while the Pistons are 7-30 on the road and have lost 9 in a row away from home. If the Celtics come out focused and play team ball, they should be able to get an win. But if they underestimate this team and lose their focus, the Pistons could pull it out.