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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Boston Celtics

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A busy night of NBA action could mean another shuffle in the fluid West standings. The Spurs can improve upon their seventh seed with a win against the determined Boston Celtics.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Boston Celtics

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
March 20, 2015, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

With March Madness getting most of the nation's attention Friday night, Spurs-Celtics won't make many big waves within the hoops community -- which is somewhat unfortunate, based on how Boston's quirky collection of NBA players have played as of late.

Coach Brad Stevens has managed to coax strong performances out of faces both new and old, assimilating guys like Isaiah Thomas (out tonight) and Jae Crowder into the rotation with great success. His offense stresses a 'read and react' approach that gives each player freedom to pursue opportunities and lanes, whether that's Tyler Zeller attacking off the dribble or questionable three-point shooter Marcus Smart chancing it from deep. It's a positionless style of play that's reaped great rewards for a team that some thought destined for the lottery.

After splitting their two-game road trip -- to be remembered for the "pathetic" showing in the Garden on Tuesday -- San Antonio returns home, once again in seventh place in a Western Conference picture that's due for some more shakeups. Four losses separate San Antonio and the second-seed Grizzlies, with no playoff team looking especially healthy during the regular season's home stretch.

Meanwhile, Boston has played its way firmly into the playoff conversation out east, where five sub-.500 teams are competing for the last two spots. The Celtics currently own the eighth seed, which is pretty remarkable considering they sent away their two best players (Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green) over the course of the season. They've now won 10 of their last 13, losing only to Golden State, at Cleveland and at OKC during that stretch.

Clearly the team San Antonio faces tonight won't resemble the one it trounced, 111-89, in late November. But the Spurs are also a more complete team since then and, barring the debacle against the Knicks, playing better basketball, as well. Danny Green's career year continues to be the glue that's held this season together, with the former Tar Heel contributing 20 points and eight rebounds in a winning effort in Milwaukee. Either Green or Kawhi will benefit from having Evan Turner (the weakest link in the Celtics three-wing troupe) on him, and that could be a good catalyst for San Antonio points tonight.

Despite the improved play of Zeller and Kelly Olnyk as of late, Boston's main weakness remains down low, where strength and size are a major issue. Tiago and Tim aren't imposing physical specimens, but they should benefit from having to work less down low and get some good looks around the basket.

I expect (hope?) the effect of the Knicks loss to carry over one more game. The Celtics will compete for all 48 minutes, but the Hawks are waiting on Sunday, making this win all the more important to secure.

Matchup to watch: Starting backcourts. With Smart and Bradley, the Celtics give up a bit of shooting in favor of a lot of defensive intensity. The two (as well as Evan Turner playing the 'three') can switch on screens really work to disrupt things at the point of the Spurs attack, which should make for an interesting dynamic tonight.

vs.

Boston Celtics (30-37)

San Antonio Spurs (42-25)

March 20, 2015

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

7:30 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Marcus Smart

PG

Tony Parker

Avery Bradley

SG

Danny Green

Evan Turner

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Brandon Bass

PF

Tiago Splitter

Tyler Zeller

C

Tim Duncan


For the Celtics perspective, please visit Celtics Blog.

Game prediction: Spurs by 9.

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