Friday, January 21, 2011

Big Al Returns to Boston

The Utah Jazz come to Boston tonight and will be looking to knock off the Eastern Conference leading Celtics. The two key matchups to keep an eye on are former Celtics' star Al Jefferson taking on Shaq in the paint, and point guard superstars Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo going at it. While I expect both of these matchups to lead to some great plays and quality basketball, neither Rondo nor Shaq need to dominate their man for the Celtics to win tonight, and since Williams and Big Al are both all star caliber players don't expect Rondo and Shaq to be able to take over this game they way they did in the fourth quarter against Detroit. While Rondo should be able to get his typical double digit assists and hopefully keep Williams to a reasonable number of points, it will be the original Big Three that make the difference in this one, so long as Rondo and Shaq reasonably contain Utah's two star players.

Before the season began, Utah was one of the five teams I mentioned as a team to watch out for, and they have played very well on their way to a 27-15 record. However, they have also proved to be inconsistent, and find ways to lose games they have no business losing such as when they lost to the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night. They are capable of playing good defense, but also collapse at times the way Charlotte's defense does and did against the C's, and Boston's Big Three should be able to take advantage, as well as Glen Davis and Boston's second unit who will be running all over Utah's bench. Starting wingmen Andrei Kirilenko, who was once considered a very good defender many seasons ago, and Raja Bell will not be able to respectively contain Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and look for Ray to rebound from his poor shooting night against the Pistons while Bell continuously gets picked and loses his man. I would not be surprised to see Utah do a ton of switching on defense that results in Williams sticking with Ray since Bell will not be able to. KG will have his hands full with the energetic and hard-nosed Frenchman Paul Millsap, but should be able to expose Millsap's weaknesses and put up some points or get him into early foul trouble. It will be interesting watching Garnett and Jefferson battling in the paint, the two guys who were traded for each other a few seasons ago just before the Celtics went from worst to first. Jefferson will be looking to prove to Ainge and the Celtics that he can play big and still control the paint against the best of them, even guys like Shaq and KG. Though Big Al does have games where he almost disappears and lets Deron Williams do all the work for Utah, tonight will not be one of them.


  1. Celtics got a legitimate blowout last night for a change. Williams and Jefferson were totally ineffective as you expected nobody else on the Jazz was able to step up - you know you're sucking when Earl Watson leads your team with 12 points! Rondo had a sick +29 and wiped the floor with Williams. He was all over the place. Shaq got a lot of rest for tonight's game in DC. Erden was focused, got 14 pts and showed tons of energy - almost always getting back to the paint on D before the Jazz run a fast break. Fun game to watch.

  2. Glad that Erden played well, his energy and presence in the paint can really lead to solid play and some nice runs for the Celtics. However, Shaq wasn't resting, he got hurt in the first quarter and won't be playing tonight against Washington. I'm hoping that Big Baby and Erden can step up big until Shaq gets better, and until Perkins returns in early February.