The Brooklyn Nets & Boston Celtics face off in an hour, in the first of a five-game Christmas Day NBA slate. Here are three keys to watch for.
1) Forcing backcourt defensive switches with the flex offense. The Nets went to a small-ball lineup Sunday to help guard Sixers power forward Thaddeus Young, who gives bigger, slower players like Kris Humphries fits. But the strength in that bigger lineup is that it allows Joe Johnson to take advantage of size mismatches at the shooting guard position, particularly in the post. Now, with the 6’5″ Bogans starting at one of the two wing positions, the Celtics can put shooting guard Jason Terry on Bogans and let the bigger Paul Pierce check Johnson. The Nets created a few mismatches with the screens out of the flex offense — if they can ensure that Johnson has the 6’2″ Terry on him as much as possible, they should get some great looks from their offense.
2) Rajon Rondo vs. Deron Williams. Two of the best creators in the league, and scarily enough, the one in Boston may have the better jumper. Rondo is shooting a scorching 54.4% from the long midrange this season, far better than the struggling Williams. Williams’ defense has also been questionable this season, as he’s often trailing behind or under screens. On top of that, Rondo loves the spotlight — I can’t find the exact number, but in his 24 triple-double games, at least 15 have come during nationally televised games.
3) Controlling the glass. Of the “four factors” (effective shooting, free throw rate, limiting turnovers, and offensive rebounds), offensive rebounding is the Nets’ strongest — they’re 8th in the league in offensive rebounding. Conversely, the Celtics are dead last in the league in offensive rebounding rate, by a wide margin — but rank 8th in the league at limiting opponents from offensive rebounds. With the Nets sticking with their small lineup, those second-chance points may make the difference.