The holiday tradition of the NBA on Christmas kicks off with a noon matchup between Boston and New York. A divisional matchup that could have a future playoff ramifications when the season comes to a close. Both teams will be fired up for this game, as it’s going to be a nation-wide audience watching on TV.
Boston needs to start building big leads
There are time in almost every game this season, where Boston had a 8-12 point lead and their offense struggled to increase it. Last time out against the Thunder, there were several opportunities to build a big lead that failed. Boston is at its best when they are running plays and moving the ball. When they get a little cushion they tend to get away from what got them the lead in the first place. I think they will figure it out soon, and maybe today’s game is the one where they prove they can execute in pivotal moments.
This is a great game for Bradley to really standout
Avery Bradley has been great early in games, and on the road. Well, this will be the earliest he’s had a chance to come out on fire, and it’s on the road.courtney Lee is a quality vet, and is good at chasing people around screens, but I think Bradley will have a huge game anyway.
Controlling the defensive rebounds is going to be huge against New York
There are a few areas in the game that give one team an advantage, and the other team a disadvantage. Free throws are one, turnovers are another, and offensive rebounds are the third. A team could shoot the ball lights out, but if they are turning the ball over, committing a lot of fouls that lead to free throws, or giving their opponents second chance opportunities, then the great shooting will be negated. Several times this season Boston has lost more than one or all three of those areas.
The Celtics have done a great job reducing the turnovers, and been pretty good at getting the free throw line. But, they still struggle keeping their opponent off the offensive glass. Noah, O’Quinn, Porzingis, and Hermangomez are all actively looking to get offensive rebounds. Boston will have to make sure they take care of business today to make sure they aren’t doing New York any favors.
Boston is looking for a statement game
Nobody in the Celtics locker room thinks they have played to their potential this season. There have been a lot of shaky games, and few games where the team played well for 48 minutes. Today would be a great time to prove what type of team they think are.
Jaylen on the big stage
This would be a great game for Jaylen to be aggressive and look to score. He has a nice post game, is a very good finisher, and an impressive fade-away. Brown has been passive for the most part early in his career, as he is adjusting to the NBA level. Eventually, he is going to get more comfortable and start being more aggressive. If Brown can have a quality game today, that will go a long ways towards getting him to the next stage in his development.
The old Smart guarding Porzingis routine
One of my favorite parts about Boston playing New York is watching Smart show why he is one of the league’s best defenders. Brad Stevens has asked the 6’4 Smart to guard the 7’3 Porzingis on multiple occasions in the past. So, it’s likely that we will see this matchup again today.
Clearly, Porzingis can just shoot over Smart anytime he wants, but it is instinctual for someone with such a large height advantage to want to back his man towards the hoop. But, Smart’s leverage is so good, that Porzingis has to use a lot of force to budge Marcus, and Smart is really good at drawing charges. Another advantage Smart has in that matchup is if Porzingis tries to dribble, Smart is a major threat to just take the ball away, or pole it loose. It will be interesting to see if Porzingis goes straight into his shot if he gets that matchup.