The Boston Celtics get the opportunity to avenge their most confusing loss of the season when they meet the Charlotte Bobcats at home on Saturday.
The Celtics were blown out by the hapless Bobcats 100-74 in Charlotte on Tuesday. With just five days between the games, the upset loss will be fresh on the Celtics' mind. Conversely, the Bobcats will enter the rematch with the confidence of knowing they already beat this team once.
The upset win for the Bobcats snapped a 10-game losing streak and they'll certainly want to repeat the performance.
Boston will want to get back on track and advance up the Eastern Conference ladder as they jockey for playoff position.
Let's take a closer look at this intriguing matchup.
Time: Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Carolinas & Comcast SportsNet New England
Records: Charlotte (14-50), Boston (35-29)
Charlotte Bobcats' Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Byron Mullens, Back, Questionable
Ramon Sessions, Knee, Out
Boston Celtics' Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Rajon Rondo, Torn Right ACL, Out
Jared Sullinger, Back Surgery, Out
Key Storyline: The Impact of Paul Pierce
As far as regular season NBA upsets go, the Bobcats beating the Celtics was huge. If the Bobcats want to repeat its upset performance this time around, they'll have to deal with Paul Pierce this time.
With a supposedly weak matchup amidst a busy schedule, Doc Rivers decided to hold Pierce out of the last game. His absence definitely cost the Celtics. Without their veteran do-it-all small forward in the lineup, the Celtics struggled on defense and gave up a considerable advantage on the boards.
After losing the first game to the Bobcats, it's unlikely that Rivers sits out anyone this time around. How the Bobcats attack the defense with a full Celtics lineup will determine whether or not it can pull off the repeat performance.
Key Matchup: Courtney Lee vs. Gerald Henderson
Pierce's return to the lineup should help the C's defensively, but it doesn't erase the fact that Henderson had a career night against the Celtics in its first matchup.
The shooting guard went for 35 points on 11-for-19 shooting and made 12 of his 12 free throws. It was a career high in points for Henderson and a night to forget for Lee.
Lee didn't do much to offset Henderson's night on the offensive end either. In six minutes he put up six points on 3-of-6 shooting and failed to connect once from beyond the arc. If the Celtics are going to make this matchup different than the first one, this is a matchup that must be drastically different.
Henderson will be a key player to watch.
X-Factor: Josh McRoberts
Evaluating this game honestly, the Celtics are simply a more talented team.
That being said, hustle is the great equalizer and McRoberts has the ability to clean up on the boards thanks to his hustle. McRoberts' chutzpah was on full display in the first matchup with the Celtics, he grabbed 10 rebounds including three of the offensive variety.
In all, the Bobcats out-rebounded the Celts 48-29 including 16 offensive rebounds.
If McRoberts is able to create second chance opportunities and control the boards, he'll be putting the Bobcats in a good position to win another game.
The Bobcats can hang its hat on its home win against the Celtics. When your record is as bad as its is, there isn't much to be proud of.
However, the odds that they can pull off the same upset on the road is unlikely.
At the end of the day, the Bobcats are still the Bobcats and their earlier win over the Celtics should prove to be more of an aberration than anything. The Celtics are a veteran team that knows how to turn up the intensity for important games.
This usually wouldn't qualify, but the Celtics will be anxious to prove that it is still headed in a good direction.
Charlotte should put up a good fight with its effort, but it does not have the talent to beat teams like Boston just yet.
Boston 93, Charlotte 83
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