Celtics-Clippers Preview: Focus on the 'W'
Going into tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers may have a certain familial feel to it for the Boston Celtics, but all the feel-good vibes shared when the Celtics past and present collide tonight won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.
Both Boston and the Clippers are the fourth-best team in their respective conferences with the focus for each being to rack up as many wins as possible and do so without anyone getting hurt.
Here are five keys to tonight’s game.
5. Defending the 3-ball
This has been an integral part of the Clippers' game plan this season, evident by them ranking in the top-10 in 3-pointers made.
But in Boston, the Clippers face a Celtics defense that has been extremely stingy when it comes to giving up 3-pointers. In fact, the Celtics come in allowing just 7.4 3-pointers made per game which ranks 3rd in the league.
4. CELTICS PROBLEMS IN THE THIRD QUARTER
We saw Saturday night how Boston nearly lost to Phoenix following a horrific third quarter. A similar concern exists when facing the Clippers.
Los Angeles is the toughest team to score on in the third quarter, a statistic that hits home when you see that they are giving up a league-low 24.1 points in the third. In their win over Denver on Saturday, the Nuggets were limited to just 12 points in the third quarter.
Both of these teams benefit from forcing a lot of turnovers. The Celtics force 16.2 which ranks 2nd in the NBA while the Clippers are also in the top-10 while forcing 15.4 which ranks ninth in the league.
2. FIRST QUARTER SCORING
Getting off to a good start is always encouraged, but not always a good or easy thing to do. The Celtics average 26.6 points in the first quarter this season which is the fourth-best mark in the NBA. Not too far behind them is the Clippers who come in averaging 26.5 points in the first which ranks sixth in the NBA. But what makes these two teams so unique is that as well as they can score at the start of games, both have a knack for locking teams up defensively, too. The Celtics allow 24.6 points in the first which is the sixth-lowest amount while the Clippers give up 24.9 points which ranks 8th in the league.
1. Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
The need to make shots – the right shots – is imperative for Boston to knock off the Clippers. But the key to this game will Boston’s ability to keep Los Angeles from having a good night shooting the ball. The Clippers’ .520 Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) is the fifth-best in the NBA. They will face a Celtics defense whose eFG% is the fourth-best at .481. And Los Angeles has a eFG% defense that’s in the top-10, limiting their opponents to .486 eFG% which ranks 7th in the league.