Boston Celtics Face Real Barometer in This Week's Matchups

By Michael LeDuc
Avery Bradley
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Last week’s reunion week began in a sour way, but the Boston Celtics were able to end the week on a good note by defeating the New York Knicks in come-back fashion on Friday. After a weekend off, the Celtics are back to work tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first of four games this week. The first three games do not feature any premier teams rather teams with similar records to the Celtics. The Celtics have not done well against premier teams, but this week we will see if they can separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the middle of the Eastern Conference. However, to end the week, Boston must play the best team in the league—the Indiana Pacers.

12/16 vs. Timberwolves

Last time these two teams met, the T-Wolves dominated in a 106-88 win over Boston. The Celtics let the bigs have their way as Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic combined for 43 points and 24 rebounds. The Celtics shot terribly and were sloppy with 24 turnovers. Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green were held to a combined 2-for-12 from the field and five points. However, this time the game should be a totally different contest. In the first meeting, Minnesota was firing on all cylinders while the Celtics were in the middle of a rough stretch. Since then, the Timberwolves have come back to earth and the Celtics have drastically improved. The Celtics can’t let Minnesota control the paint, and Green and Sullinger need to be involved in the offense.

12/18 vs. Pistons

On Wednesday night, the Detroit Pistons come to town, another team that the Celtics previously lost to this season. The Celtics’ offense did not flow in that game like it has been recently. A lack of defined playmakers led to 23 turnovers. The players were still trying to figure out their roles, and the starting lineup was much different. Jordan Crawford was not in his point guard role at the time, and this will be a much different game considering Crawford’s emergence. Sullinger also had a weak performance, but he has been much better ever since. The Pistons and Celtics have the exact same record at 11-14, so it should be an entertaining matchup.

12/21 vs. Wizards

A matchup against the Washington Wizards is the last game of the Celtics’ long, five-game homestand. The Wizards are without one of their premier scorers, Bradley Beal, so the focus can be drawn to John Wall.  Avery Bradley will do what he does best. Do not underestimate the Wizards’ big men. Marcin Gortat has proven to be a beast against the Celtics. Also, Trevor Ariza has been terrific this year. It should be another fun matchup for two teams trying to gain ground in the East.

12/22 at Indiana

Celtics will finally have a real gut check when they play against the Indiana Pacers. Boston could not handle the Pacers earlier this season in a 97-82 loss. The Celtics found themselves up early in the game but failed to generate enough offense in the second half. Roy Hibbert was not much of a factor in that game, however the Pacers were still too much for the Celtics. Boston may be over-matched in this game, but let’s not count out any surprises.

Three of the four games this week are extremely winnable. Hopefully, the Celtics can get close to .500 before facing the powerful Pacers. It’ll be a good week to obtain an idea of whether the Celtics are in the bottom of the pack or closer to the top.

Michael LeDuc writes about the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, like his Facebook page and add him on Google.

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