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Celtics-Grizzlies Preview

12.14.09 at 10:45 am ET
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Poor Allen Iverson. He gets traded from Philadelphia to Denver and the Sixers spend the next two years in the playoffs. He goes from Denver to Detroit and the Nuggets go to the conference finals. He gets waived by the Memphis Grizzlies after one game and the Grizzlies become good? There might be a pattern developing here.

Memphis has won four of its last five and included in that are wins over Dallas, Cleveland and a 28-point victory Sunday night in Miami. The Grizz might not be playoff good, but they probably would be if they were in the East. So, does A.I. get the blame, or does Jamaal Tinsley get the credit? (That was a rhetorical question).

CELTICS (19-4, 10-0 last 10)

Points Per Game: 100.4

Points Allowed: 90.6

Differential: 9.8 (First)

Offensive Efficiency: 109.3 (Ninth)

Defensive Efficiency: 98.6 (First)

Pace: 91.4 (25th)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (wrist), Glen Davis (thumb)

GRIZZLIES (10-13, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 101.5

Points Allowed: 104.4

Differential: -2.9 (19th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.8 (28th)

Pace: 93.3 (12th)

Likely Starters: Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Injuries: Darrell Arthur (Torn pec muscle)

Key Matchup: We’re going to talk about offensive rebounding again. The Grizzlies rate as the NBA top offensive rebounding team and Randolph is the primary reason. He’s getting almost five offensive boards per game — a number that is a little inflated after he pulled down 11 in a game against Oklahoma City last week. The Celtics have done a better job on the boards in recent games, but they will have to keep a body on Randolph. It will also be interesting to see how the Celtics matchup Garnett and Perkins with Randolph and Gasol.

Celtics in a Paragraph: There is no hotter team in the NBA now that the Lakers had to move out of the cozy confines of their home arena and venture out on the road. In their 10-game winning streak Rondo has averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds and has pushed his free throw percentage above 50 percent. That he’s not higher in the All-Star voting is a joke.

Grizzlies in a Paragraph: Speaking of the All-Star game, there was a story in the Memphis paper last week about Randolph getting left off the ballot, which seems ridiculous on its face until you start to take a look at what the bizarre big man has been doing this year. He’s averaging better than 18 points and 10 rebounds and has teamed with Gasol to give Memphis one of the better low-post tandems in the league. At least from an offensive standpoint. Defensively, Randolph and Gasol are not exactly Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason.

What to Watch For: Memphis is no longer a pushover. The Celtics are playing the final game of their road trip before heading home for a nice stretch. Will this be the NBA’s version of the get-away game, or will the Celtics continue their road dominance?

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