Boston Celtics +4.5 (51-18) at San Antonio Spurs -4.5 (45-22) 8:30 PM ET Friday March 20, 2009 on NBA TV. Total 182.5
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the defending champion Boston Celtics head to the Lone Star State to take on the San Antonio Spurs. Both teams are in 2nd place in their respective conferences, but while the Spurs should stay in that position barring a late season collapse the Celtics are in danger of falling behind the Orlando Magic, who only trail the Celtics by game.
The Celtics have been struggling lately and are only 5-5 in their last 10 games and currently trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by 4.5 games in the East.
The Spurs are 6-4 in their last 10 games and trail the L.A. Lakers in the West by 8.5 games. Both teams are expected to go far in the playoffs, but each needs to get healthy to do so. For the Celtics Kevin Garnett is still out and in their last game they were also without Ray Allen, Leon Powe, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen.
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For the Spurs Manu Ginobili is still out and in their last game Tim Duncan rested his knees, but is expected to go tonight. Both these teams are in the same boat, as the Spurs need to be full strength to challenge the Lakers in the West and the Celtics need to be full strength to challenge the Cavaliers in the East.
This season the Spurs are 24-9 at home and the Celtics are 23-12 on the road.
The Celtics come into this game after beating the Miami Heat on Wednesday night 112-108 in OT. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Paul Pierce going for 36 points on 14/23 shooting. For the game the Celtics were on fire shooting 45/82 for a FG% of 54.9%. On D the Celtics allowed the Heat to shoot 44/92 for a FG% of 47.8%.
The Spurs come into this game after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-86 on Tuesday night. The high scorer for the Spurs in that game was Tony Parker going for 24 points on 9/19 shooting. For the game the Spurs shot 34/80 for a FG% of 42.5%. On D the Spurs allowed the T-wolves to shoot 34/73 for a FG% of 46.6%.
This season the Celtics rank 10th in scoring (101.4 ppg) and the Spurs rank 23rd (97 ppg). The reason both these teams have a legit shot to win the title is their D, as the Spurs rank 2nd in points allowed (93 ppg) and the Celtics rank 3rd (93.4 ppg). The Celtics are the best rebounding team in the league with a rebounding differential of +5.4 rpg, while the Spurs are barely in the positive at +0.5 rpg.
This season the Spurs are 33-33-1 ATS and the Celtics are 33-35-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Spurs are 31-35-1 this season and the Celtics are 33-35-1.
On the injury front the Celtics are a walking hospital, as SG Ray Allen, PF Glen Davis, PF Kevin Garnett, PG Rajon Rondo, and Eddie House are day-to-day and PF Leon Powe is Out for the Celtics. While the Spurs have no reported injuries Manu Ginobili is still Out and Tim Duncan has tender knees.
Without Garnett on the floor the Celtics are only 7-6 and they are hurting on defense. Conversely, the Spurs are struggling on offense, as they miss Ginobili’s 16.1 ppg.
The Celtics really need to start winning or they will be passed by the Magic in the East and they will have a tougher time repeating as NBA Champions.
Without KG in the lineup the Celtics have to suck it up on D and hit the boards hard. Rajon Rondo is banged up and Stephon Marbury (3.1 ppg) has to step up and play good D on Tony Parker (21.4 ppg) and not allow him to have a big scoring game.
Kendrick Perkins (8.5 ppg 8.1 rpg) has to play well tonight on both ends of the floor, as he has to score to open up the perimeter for the Celtics shooters and he has to play sold D on Tim Duncan (19.9 ppg) and hit the glass. If Perkins can give the Celtics some offense down low it will open up the shooting lanes for Paul Pierce (20.6 ppg) and Ray Allen (18.4 ppg).
Both teams are banged up, but the game will depend on which teams stars show up and take up the slack.
Jason’s Pick: Take the Spurs at -4.5.