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Game 53: Spurs at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  April 4, 2012 11:22 AM

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San Antonio's Tim Duncan (above) and Boston's Kevin Garnett were both left out of the All-Star game this year in an inevitable changing of the guard at the top of the NBA. But neither Duncan nor Garnett got the message that they were supposed to fade away quietly. Garnett has seen a resurgence since moving to the five position, helping the Celtics to 10 wins in 11 games and five in a row. Duncan, meanwhile, has led the Spurs to a 37-14 record. Winners of eight in a row, the Spurs have a 7.5-game lead on everyone's almost-there pick, the Memphis Grizzlies.

The play of Duncan and Garnett has the Spurs and Celtics, respectively, vying for top positioning in a playoff race no one thought they'd be a serious part of. Tonight's game has implications for both teams, and it could also be the final game in which Duncan and Garnett are matched up.

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (30-22), Spurs (37-14)
Broadcast info: CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tom Heinsohn), WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley/Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kevin Garnett

Spurs:
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: DeJuan Blair

Storylines:

Who starts?: Anybody hear anything about this? Apparently Avery Bradley is playing really well, and Ray Allen is set to return from injury. One of them will have to start, and one of them will be forced into exile (or just come off the bench). Both Allen and Bradley need to play big minutes for the Celtics, and Bradley's emergence is unequivocally a good thing. We should get an answer on who starts around 6:50 p.m.


Drafting: Bradley's strong play has in some ways validated Danny Ainge, who has turned late first-round draft picks into a potential starting backcourt of Bradley and Rajon Rondo. Sound familiar? The Spurs used a second-round pick on starting center DeJaun Blair, while All-Star Tony Parker was the 28th overall pick in 2001. San Antonio also has a knack of signing guys no one wants and turning them into solid role players.

Standings: The Celtics are 1.5 games up on Philadephia in the Atlantic Division and are just 1.5 games behind Indiana for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Every win matters right now.

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