Carrying a five-game winning streak into their showdown with Western Conference titan San Antonio, the Celtics have good reason to feel confident about Thursday night. The only problem? The Spurs have also won five straight, including a gutty win over in-state rival Houston on the road.
Someone's streak will end at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, and Doc Rivers' Celtics are determined for it not to be them. A whole lot of pride will be on the line in this one.
Thursday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Celtics (14-4, First place in Atlantic Division)
Spurs (9-6, Second place in Southwest Division)
The Spurs are famous for making the Celtics' lives hell for an entire decade. There's absolutely no Boston killer on the planet better than Tim Duncan. Between 1997 and 2007, the Spurs beat the C's 18 times in a row before the Celtics finally halted the streak on St. Patrick's Day in 2007. Since then, things have been looking up for the Celtics, who have now won four of their last five meetings with San Antonio. Included in those wins is the memorable one — again on St. Patrick's Day, this time in 2008 — in which the Celtics rallied from a 22-point deficit to win 93-91.
On paper, the Spurs looked like one of the most improved teams in the league going into this season. After drafting DeJuan Blair and trading for Richard Jefferson this offseason, the Spurs were a trendy early pick to win the NBA Finals, but after Gregg Popovich's squad started the season at 4-6, the buzz started to go sour. Still, like any team led by Duncan and Popovich, this Spurs team will only get better as the season goes on.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Tony Parker
Shooting guard: Keith Bogans
Small forward: Richard Jefferson
Power forward: Tim Duncan
Center: Antonio McDyess
The Celtics are 7-1 on the road this season.
Ray Allen is 94.4 percent from the free-throw line, best in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo leads the league with 44 steals.
Kendrick Perkins is fifth in the NBA with 36 blocks.
Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 19.1 points per game.
Kevin Garnett is averaging 12.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on the road this season.
The Spurs are 4-1 this season against Eastern Conference opponents.
Tim Duncan is fifth in the NBA with 2.0 blocks per game.
Richard Jefferson is averaging 13.9 points per game, his lowest offensive output since his 2001-02 rookie season with the New Jersey Nets.
Tony Parker leads the Spurs with 6.8 assists per game.
Manu Ginobili is averaging 14.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his career against the Celtics.
Antonio McDyess averages 10.6 points and 7.6 boards against them.
Glen Davis is nearing his return from a broken thumb.
Tony Allen, who has been out since October with a right ankle injury, is nearing a return as well but is not currently traveling with the team. The team is aiming for a Dec. 8 return against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Roger Mason is probable with a strained left hamstring.
Manu Ginobili missed five games in November with a strained left groin.
Tony Parker has battled minor ankle injuries this season.
In 2008, the Celtics win their 10th consecutive game, beating the Pacers at home 114-96 behind 31 points from Ray Allen. The streak eventually reaches 19 games, a franchise record, before being snapped by the Lakers on Christmas Day.
"Physically, I feel really, really good. But you all have no idea of the [stuff] I go through to come in here and be Grade B, Grade A. So I’m a work in progress. I don’t even think twice about my leg. There’s nothing about this game I second-guess. As a basketball player you have to react. When I am reacting and [stuff] flows, I’m a better player like that. I’m trying to find timing in what Doc wants and making it come together."
–Kevin Garnett in Tuesday's Boston Globe
Kendrick Perkins is front and center.
Perk impresses an old fan.
Antonio McDyess faces a former teammate.
Tony Parker discusses Eva Longoria and other secret weapons.
The Nets have made history, but not the good kind.
Ron Artest said he used to drink alcohol during halftime of NBA games.
Allen Iverson is the Sixers' stimulus package.
When two teams this good take the floor, it's a shame that one of them has to lose. It's a battle of two smart, defensively oriented, unselfish basketball teams, led by two smart, defensively oriented, unselfish leaders in Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. It doesn't get much more evenly matched than this — you can say the Spurs have a slight edge being at home, but if we've learned anything about these Celtics, it's that they can win anywhere. This is anyone's game.
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