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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Boston Celtics

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The Spurs are feeling it on the offensive end and will now go up against a weak Boston Celtics defense, which coach Brad Stevens is working on getting tougher around the rim.

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs @ Boston Celtics

TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
November 30, 2014, 12:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

We, as Spurs fans, have the privilege of touting our dear basketball team as the squad whose game is described by onlookers as "the beautiful game." If ball movement, court spacing, and assist opportunities were currency, San Antonio would be the guy who gives family members inappropriately extravagant Christmas gifts every year. Efficient shots reign supreme with this franchise, and much of it has to do with the veteran, future hall-of-famer leadership and coaching. Friday's game displayed that very fact, with the Silver and Black recording 29 assists against the Kings -- their eighth game with 25 or more assists this season.

(Quick tip: read this next paragraph in that ESPN: 30 For 30 promo guy's voice)

But what if I told you assists didn't always lead to wins. What if there was a team leading the NBA in assist opportunities struggling to find victories? What if that team also had more assists per game and points off of assists than the San Antonio Spurs? What if I told you that easy buckets and ball movement don't solve everything? What if...

Okay, enough with the dramatics. If you couldn't tell by now, that team is the Boston Celtics. It's pretty amazing that a 4-9 team could be that good at distributing the ball, until you remember that their starting point guard is Rajon Rondo -- a guy who has recorded the last two 20-assist games the league has seen. While some marvel at his ability to get players good looks, some consider him the most "selfishly unselfish" player in the league, who only cares about his stats. Self-glorification intentions aside, a healthy Rajon can only help a team's assist ratings and lead to quite a few efficient shot attempts.

Their sneaky offensive efficiency, though, is only matched by their self destructive defensive abilities (109.9 DRtg, 26th in the league), which is odd considering Coach Brad Stevens' defense-minded philosophy. Stevens hasn't been too pleased with the amount of points his team has given up thus far in the season, but he sees his players getting better. After their previous loss against the BullsStevens said:

You look at it from a record standpoint and again, you're disappointed in a couple of the close losses, but I'm not disappointed in the progress or how we're playing again, closer to meeting our standards which is good

He added:

We gotta make up some ground as these coming months happen. At the same time, it is still about getting better, playing to what we're trying to do from a day-to-day basis. I feel good about where we're headed. But we gotta do it.

What they appear to lack most is rim protection. The Celtics give up the 5th most buckets at the rim, and are 29th in blocks. Their starting center, Kelly Olynyk, is considered by many a soft, weak big man whose game reflects that more of a stretch four -- not a starting center in the NBA.

But Olynyk starting at center may change tonight against the Spurs.

There's been rumblings in Boston that Stevens has been looking for a rotation change in order to sure up the defensive end, which could involve sliding Tyler Zeller -- a more natural center -- into the starting center position over Kelly. This would trade some offense for a more secure rim defense which could allow the Celtics to stay in -- or even pull away -- in close contests.

Some even more defense may be making itself available soon in Marcus Smart's return from injury, though it's not likely he will return tonight against the Silver and Black.

Changes at the starting center position will not be enough for the Celtics against the Spurs, though. While their offense may give them hope against many teams in the league, sending out a poor defense against San Antonio is not something teams can do very often and win. With the way the Spurs are slinging the ball around on the offensive end of the court, it's going to look like the high dose of tryptophan from Thanksgiving hasn't fully worked itself out of the Celtics' bodies just yet.

vs

Boston Celtics (4-9)

San Antonio Spurs (11-4)

November 30, 2014

TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

12:00 PM CST

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Rajon Rondo

PG

Tony Parker

Avery Bradley

SG

Danny Green

Jeff Green

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Jared Sullinger

PF

Boris Diaw

Kelly Olynyk

C

Tim Duncan



For the Celtics' perspective, visit Celtics Blog.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com

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