With a 12-2 record against the Eastern Conference, the Warriors are ready for the Celtics. Boston has a fantastic history, but tonight they're just another .500 team on the road.
Warriors (20-10) vs Celtics (14-14)
Tip-Off: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 EST
TV: CSN Bay Area, NBA TV | Radio: KNBR 680
What a difference a new season can make. In their visit last March, the Celtics managed to beat last-season's Warriors 105-103, while getting more rebounds and assists. Boston came to town with a 22-19 record (the Dubs were 18-21), following a visit to LA where they lost to the Lakers
and beat the Clippers
This time, the Warriors are 20-10, while the Celtics are 14-14. Both teams are second in their divisions, although Boston and Brooklyn are tied at second in the Atlantic, while Golden State has a clear lead on the Lakers in the Pacific. The Warriors record is 5th in the Western Conference, and 7th overall. The Celtics are tied for seventh in the East, and Jesus Shuttleworth can't save them. There's no Shuttleworth on the squad.
This change in league position could be long term. At 36, Kevin Garnett
is nearing the end of his career. While his scoring remains near his career average, his rebound and assist rates have dropped to their lowest levels in 15 years. At 35, Paul Pierce
is right behind KG in age, although his game remains at a high level. Of the 11 players who've gotten significant minutes this year, only twenty-year-old Sullinger is under the age of 25. The next youngest are Rajon Rondo
and Jeff Green
- who are both 26. For Golden State, the reverse is true. Six of the top 11 players are 25 or under, and only Richard Jefferson
at 32 is over the age of 30.
Like the Warriors, Boston added three rookies in the draft, and have signed one rookie free agent. Unlike the Dubs, only three of their rookies have appeared in an NBA game this season - 22nd pick Fab Melo
has spent the entire season to date on a D-League roster. Twenty-first pick Jared Sullinger
has played an average of 17 minutes a game, garnering 5.1 points on .479 shooting and 5.1 rebounds per game. Kris Joseph
(51st) averaged 3.6 minutes in the five games he's played, and D-League callup Jarvis Varnado
has appeared in two games for a total of 8 minutes. Together, Joseph and Varnado have played a total of 2 minutes more than Kent Bazemore. Sullinger has played a bit more than either Draymond Green
or Festus Ezeli
, but is still in that range at 495 played. Harrison Barnes
, at fifth among rookies in minutes, has played 761 going into tonight's contest.
Which Celtic team shows up? Boston looked good against Brooklyn (winning by 17) on Christmas, and terrible Thursday night against the Clippers (losing by 29). It's a back to back for the Dubs, but solid play should lead to success.