The Boston Celtics will face a true test on Wednesday night when tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs at 7:30 p.m. from TD Garden. The Celtics have been merely mediocre through the first 11 games of the 2012-2013 NBA season, and none of their six wins have inspired a whole lot of confidence. A win over the Spurs, who have been a model of consistency over the past few seasons, would be a different matter. Celtics101 outlines what to watch for in the upcoming tilt -
Test for Boston's Defense
If you go by statistics than the Celtics' once impenetrable defense has been anything but this year. Opponents are scoring an average of 98.09 points per game on them – good for 18th in league, and shooting 45 percent – good for sixth worst. However there is a saying "things are never as good or as bad as they appear." Celtics101 believes that Boston is still a good defensive team. They may not be as good as last year, when they were the second hardest team in the NBA to score against, but they are still good. They just have not been showing it. A game with the Spurs, one of the best offensive units in basketball who beat teams simply by outscoring them, is a great test to this theory. Boston's defense is going to be put to the test. They have to start coming up with better defensive efforts than they have been. A strong outing against the Spurs would be a step in the right direction.
While on the subject of the Celtics' defense one of the reasons they have struggled so much is their inability to stop opposing guards from penetrating. Rajon Rondo deserves a lot of the blame here. He's an excellent defender but he still gambles and goes for steals way to often thus putting himself out of position when he doesn't force the turnover. However it's not all on Rondo. In fact it's not even all on the guards. The Celtics have been awful against the pick and roll this year, and the prime reason for that has been their bigs not cutting off drivers well enough. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger have both had an extremely hard time with this. Against the Spurs and their star guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, players who both thrive on penetrating, the entire Celtics D will have to do a much better job of stopping penetration.
The Spurs will be without starting small forward Kawhi Leonard and replacement Steven Jackson, but they still boast one of the deepest benches in the league. Ginobli, Gary Neal, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner are all capable of coming of the bench and having huge impacts on the flow of the game. However the Celtics are not far behind, with reserves Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger all at head coach Doc Rivers' disposal. The spotlight will be on the starters as always, but this game could very well be decided by which bench plays better.
KG vs TD
No one calls Tim Duncan "TD," but that doesn't change the fact that he and Kevin Garnett have been the two very best big men in all of basketball for the past 15 years. Each natural power forwards Duncan and Garnett are both playing center now in response to the changing nature of the NBA, but when it is all said and done they will go down as possibly the two best power forwards ever. If there had been one argument to KG staying in the west it was that he would have kept his rivalry with Duncan on the simmer. Times change but it's still fun to watch Duncan and Garnett go at it.
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