Tip-off: 3 PM PT
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Maybe an upset isn't the right word -- this Boston team looks pretty good right now.
On their last visit to Oakland, they surprised many fans with a close game (Warriors scraped by, 114-111).
Yet this is a different team now. Jared Sullinger, who went for 26 points and 9 rebounds that night, will not be available tomorrow. With Kelly Olynyk still out, Boston is out of both stretch-5 options they once had, so Tyler Zeller is filling in as more of a traditional Center.
Additionally, Danny Ainge made some big moves leading up to the trade deadline in order to prime his club for a realistic playoff push. With Rajon Rondo now in Dallas, Ainge brought in Isaiah Thomas to team up with Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley (aka, "the honey badger"). Together they form a threatening backcourt, with decent range, playmaking abilities, and defense. In the last 4 games, those 3 have combined for 6.8 3-pointers made per game, 11.6 assists per game, and 5.0 steals per game.
They also grabbed Jonas Jerebko from Detroit, who is apparently well-liked by Brad Stevens for his ability to stretch the floor and play effectively at both the small forward and power forward positions. That earns him 20+ minutes per game.
Brandon Bass, Jae Crowder, and Evan Turner have all played key roles too. After Avery Bradley, these 3 are the next highest in terms of minutes played recently. Crowder is a threat from range, Turner is very versatile, playing point guard as well as off the ball as a wing, and Bass is one of the most veteran guys on the squad, chipping in with a little bit of everything.
Brad Stevens is creative with his rotations, and as a result, a rough coach to prepare for. He's been working with some small-ball lineups, so there could be some fast and scrappy play to look forward to. As a rookie coach, he received an unusual 6-year contract, and has done a lot for a team that, on the surface, didn't appear to be in a great position to succeed. Maybe Rick Carlisle can ask him how to get on Rondo's good side?
Festus Ezeli has been suspended for this game, following his altercation with Tyler Hansbrough in Toronto. Steve Kerr sounded like he wanted to rest Andrew Bogut at some point during this road trip, and there are just two games left. Does David Lee or Marreese Speights get the start alongside Draymond Green? Or does Bogut play, and rest against Brooklyn on Monday? If only we could crawl into Kerr's mind and look around.
With this being the start of a second back-to-back (4 games in 5 nights), the minute distribution will be important. Hopefully we don't see players in the high 30's. With any luck the defense is in a smothering mood again - a fast start will go a long way in terms of spreading out the minutes.
Looks like Steve Kerr has been preparing a secret weapon for this matchup (courtesy of Diamond Leung):