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Preview: Warriors vs. Celtics; 19 straight home wins?

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Golden State is looking for its 19th victory in a row at home, against the rebuilding Celtics.

Stephen Curry against Avery Bradley will be a matchup to watch.
Stephen Curry against Avery Bradley will be a matchup to watch.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (35-6) vs. Boston Celtics (15-26)

5:00 PM

TV: CSN Bay Area // Radio: KNBR 680

Oracle Arena - Oakland, California

Blog Buddy: Celtics Blog

The extreme juxtaposition between the Warriors and the Celtics is striking.

Golden State has far and away the league's best record at 35-6, emerging continuity and true team chemistry, and a contingent of players who play well with each other.

The Celtics, on the other hand, at 15-26, are rebuilding, with General Manager Danny Ainge giving players away with seemingly nary a care for anything but the assets and draft picks he gets in return, and as such the roster is full of players on one-year contracts who are a mismatched fit with each other.

And the Celtics are still just two games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference!

Make no mistake, though: Ainge is a trade master and he will do everything he can to cement the Celtics' place in the draft lottery -- likely in the top ten -- this July. Already this season, he's traded Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, and Austin Rivers; many are predicting Brandon Bass is the next to leave via an Ainge trade.

Boston has a litany of draft picks as Ainge has realized until his team gets really good again it won't be a high-profile destination for star free agents. Currently, the Celtics have eight first-round picks and nine second-rounders over the next four years, thanks especially to trades with the Nets (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) and Clippers (Doc Rivers).

There are many ways to use draft picks: Take the player and keep him; draft a player and trade him on a rookie deal; trade the draft picks for players. But the one way Ainge (and Sam Hinkie of the 76ers as well, to be sure) really wants to use the picks he's hoarded is to gain a superstar.

Typically, the only two ways for "lesser market" or terrible (even mediocre) teams to acquire a star is through the draft or a trade. The Spurs drafted Tim Duncan first overall. The Wizards drafted John Wall first overall. New Orleans drafted Anthony Davis first overall. The Rockets traded for James Harden. The Clippers traded for Chris Paul. Now that the Celtics are not an upper-echelon team anymore, those are their only two true hopes in becoming relevant at the top of the standings again.

A rebuilding team gives lots of playing time to its young players on rookie deals -- at least, once they've embraced rebuilding -- and to veterans (often on their last legs). Case in point with the Celtics, who tonight will be without Marcus Smart (personal), Kelly Olynyk (out until All-Star Break), and Andre Dawkins (D-League), and will have just 12 players on the active roster. Boston expects to get Shavlik Randolph, Tayshaun Prince and James Young some playing time this evening.

Avery Bradley is a solid player -- an excellent defender -- and we should see him match up mostly with Stephen Curry tonight. He's one of those pesty guards who hounds Curry for 94 feet -- a harassing, in-your-face defender like Houston's Patrick Beverley. It'll be a fun matchup between those two.

While Curry will have his hands full with Bradley, Klay Thompsoncoming off a career-high 52 points and maybe the greatest shooting performance ever, will be matched up against Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton. Not exactly defensive stalwarts. Look for Thompson to have another huge night.

Predictions!

  • Klay Thompson goes for 28 points in 29 minutes.
  • Stephen Curry notches another double-double with 18 points and 14 assists.
  • The Celtics will shoot 37 percent from the field and 26 percent from the land of plenty.
  • The game is decided by the fourth quarter, and the Warriors will lead by at least 25.
  • Warriors 114, Celtics, 94