Celtics Start All-Star Squad as Nets Rest Brook Lopez in Preseason Finale


You look at the matchup on paper between the Celtics and their opponent Wednesday night, the New Jersey Nets, and it looks like it's all about the big men — Brook Lopez, the rising star 22-year-old center of the Nets, against the C's revamped big man corps of Jermaine and Shaquille O'Neal.

The actual game on Wednesday will look a little different.

Nets coach Avery Johnson has elected to rest both Lopez and veteran power forward Joe Smith, both of whom started in Tuesday night's road loss to the New York Knicks. While Johnson stressed that neither player was injured, he prefers to let his big men rest on the tail end of the preseason back-to-back.

As for the Celtics, they'll be without Jermaine O'Neal, who happens to be the one guy on their roster most perfectly suited to stop the Nets' athletic post play. O'Neal is battling back and wrist ailments, and the C's will have to make do without him.

The other O'Neal will start in his place — the 38-year-old Shaquille will be asked to anchor the Celtics' low-post effort for much of Wednesday's contest. Even without Lopez active, you can expect the Nets to pound the ball down low early and often — and if that fails, they can always pick and roll the C's to death.

Johan Petro and Kris Humphries, both big and athletic post guys in their own right, will start for the Nets at the TD Garden.

Here's who you'll see vying for the opening tip:

Rajon Rondo, PG
Ray Allen, SG
Paul Pierce, SF
Kevin Garnett, PF
Shaquille O'Neal, C

Johan Petro, C
Kris Humphries, PF
Travis Outlaw, SF
Anthony Morrow, SG
Devin Harris, PG

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