For tonight's game against the Celtics, I talked to Graham Brunell of Celtics 17 to give us Spurs fans a little insight on what to expect against the Celtics. Make sure to visit Celtics 17 for all of your Celtics coverage and check back later this afternoon with an interview we did for the Two Man Game on Red's Army. Tonight we will have live audio pregame and postgame and live chat throughout the night.
I've noticed that Garnett's numbers are down across the board from last season. Is this a sign of decline or just an effect of KG working back to 100% after his knee injury last season?
Garnett actually has really been focusing in on his jumpshot lately. He's scored 52 points in the past three games, and drilled 22-26 in the past three matches, quite divergent numbers compared to the days of when his jumpshot reeked of brick. He started off slow and worked his way from there. He didn't want to give anything away about his knee in the early press conferences because KG's not one to make promises anymore. He's not young anymore, he's not immature, he understands when and how to be confident, and he knows when to shut his mouth -- he speaks, but he speaks only of things he knows he can guarantee will happen. And I honestly do think he was worried about the knee just like everyone else. There wasn't one teammate on the squad who wasn't aware that KG was working harder than anybody else. It was a matter of how much to work and how much patience was needed so it would progress on its own though.
However, it wasn't like KG took a different demeanor towards playing when he was struggling on the court. He still carried himself with the same swagger, the same confidence. He was still the same relentless, vicious bear on the hardwood. The knee was only a hindrance for a short amount of time. A concern, a hyped-up worry, yes, but in the end, it was minor nonetheless.
The Garnett and Duncan matchup is one of the best we have seen over this decade, going back to 1999 when KG said the Timberwolves would shock the world and beat San Antonio. Garnett and Duncan have also gotten into a shoving match and have had words on the court. Duncan seems to be on quite a roll lately, but KG is no slouch. Who comes out ahead tonight?
I really can't tell you that answer without being biased. Garnett has really tuned into his game lately, especially shooting percentage-wise, but Duncan's always unpredictable, even more so when motivated during the Spurs-Celts battles. Both have the jumpshot to defend, and neither have particularly tremendous offensive centers to dump down to when driving (edge goes to KG in that aspect because Perk rarely misses when dished to in the paint). Duncan's underrated savvy passing game and Garnett's attentive eye should make things interesting as both are three-point shooting teams in the last two, three years or so. What it will come down to here is how well their coaches handle their minutes and how fast their respected offenses are rotating. If Garnett gets clogged in a sea of picks or Duncan isn't establishing early in the spot where he can bank it off the glass, forget it -- the two will mow each other down defensively.
In the end, it's a conspicuously even battle.
Aside from the TD vs. KG matchup, another great matchup pits two of the quickest point guards, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo, against eachother. Can either one of them stop the other?
Both have abnormally long arms and quick hands so don't be surprised if you see a wheelbarrow of steals being hauled in on the finalized statsheet. I predict double figures in scoring from both just because of the excessive trips involving the fast break, but that's just me. Essentially, they will each do what they have in the higher ranks of their arsenal. Rondo will set the trail to the basket ablaze and probably rack up good assist/rebound numbers, while Parker will soar with his jumper and like Rondo, become murderous in the lane. Rondo isn't at the level yet where he can take away a scorer's path to the basket and Parker has never really been one to play lock down D on guys.
Shelden Williams has been a nice surprise and has been a shot in the arm to the Celtics' bench with Davis out. With Tony Allen and Davis possibly returning soon, is Williams at risk of being waived.
If the Celtics can't find a home for Williams, they will keep him. It may sound surprising to non-C's fans at first, but Williams is actually quite valuable to their crew. He plays with a sense of urgency at all times and never tries to play outside of himself. He plays like Shelden Williams, and as long as he is he stays in Boston, it's Shelden I want.
However, if Danny can find a team willing to negotiate an adequate offer, I'm all for it. He's a fine player, a great teammate, but the fact is, we need to focus on next year and the 2010 offseason sooner or later. Sometimes, a perfect example being this situation, the NBA is nothing but a business.
Both teams have some pretty good talent off the bench, but which player will end up making the biggest contribution off then bench, Sheed or Manu?
Sheed, most certainly. I don't know if you guys have been watching the games, but this man can flat-out dominate the post. Ever since Doc stationed him down low, he's governed down low with a sense of reign and authority.
Sheed's sovereignity has presented a whole new ball game for opposing teams. In fact, despite being a flash in the pan in terms of the early season, Wallace has hit a higher percentage of threes then when the Celtics where in a slump.
Manu, on the other hand, gives the Spurs nothing more than they've had for the past two or three years. He's in fact older and less mobile. In addition, Rasheed has far more variety in his arsenal, and being able to play from all over the floor, can find gaps in San Antonio's defense and effectively utilize them.
Speaking of Sheed, he seems to have kept his cool so far in Boston. Do you think that is due to coaching or the fact that he's motivated to win a title, and do you see that trend continuing throughout the season?
Well, based on the technicals he's received, then I'd say no, Sheed will not uphold. But there's more to the statsheet. Wallace's gripes aren't of frustration and carelessness anymore; they're of his passion for winning and old leadership reemerging from within. Wallace isn't throwing towels and taking the coach off to the side to explain that he's upset with his own situation. He's throwing high-fives and taking the coach off to the side to elaborate on his dissatisfaction with the TEAM'S recent play. Rasheed will fit well with this group.
The Celtics and the Spurs are coming into tonight's game off 5-game winning streaks. Whose streak will end tonight and what will the final outcome look like?
The Celtics have had some great clutch play in SA in the past couple years, and seems unfazed with San Antonio's crowd or home ascendency. Both team's have had enough of losing and will come out looking to sweat but when the final buzzer sounds, it's Boston with an air-tight 93-89 victory.