Perfect Against The West

The Boston Celtics may have to avoid the temptation of looking ahead Friday night.

Before a showdown with their main competitors in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics try to gain their eighth straight win and remain perfect against the West when they host the Memphis Grizzlies.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -13 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 197 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 88% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston –13 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Boston (27-3) has matched the best 30-game start in the shot-clock era, although it has a long way to go to equal the start of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who began 41-3 en route to a league-record 72 victories.

Only three teams have started better than 27-3, including the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers (37-3) and the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (39-3).

The Celtics are 15-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to Detroit on Dec. 19. Boston will have a chance to avenge that defeat Saturday when it visits the Pistons, winners of 10 straight entering play Friday.

Although that marquee matchup is no doubt on both teams' minds, Boston must first get past Memphis (9-22). The teams have split two games each of the last four seasons.

Of course, that was before Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined the Celtics. Garnett turned in an outstanding effort Wednesday against Houston, scoring 11 of his 26 points in the final seven minutes of a 97-93 home victory.

"Kevin made a lot of big shots down the stretch. ... You catch a little fire and he knocks down some shots for us," said Allen, who made six of 15 shots and scored 13 points. "That was the difference."

Garnett, who played with a bandage over his right eye due to a cut suffered in Sunday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers, fell a rebound shy of his fifth double-double in six games as Boston improved to 9-0 against West teams.

"When you play against the best in the league, you can't go in with low gas, you've got to have a lot of high octane," Garnett said. "I fed off this building, these fans are the spark plug and I just plugged in and didn't even think what I was doing."

While Garnett is earning plenty of local praise in his first season in Boston, the player he will likely go up against Friday has been the recent target of boos by his home crowd. Memphis forward Pau Gasol is averaging 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds - his lowest numbers in three seasons - and speculation continues to mount about his future with the last-place Grizzlies.

Gasol has performed better on this three-game road trip that ends Friday, and had 30 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday as Memphis snapped a five-game losing streak with a 90-72 win over Indiana.

Memphis is one of the worst defensive teams in the league, but yielded its lowest point total of the season and limited Indiana to 30.8 percent shooting - the worst by a Grizzlies opponent in 2007-08.

"Frankly, they're not going to shoot that way every night," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "It wasn't all us, they had a rough night shooting. I'd like to think we had something to do with that."

Friday's game will also feature a matchup of young point guards in Boston's Rajon Rondo and Memphis rookie Mike Conley.

Rondo is in his second season and has been steady, shooting nearly 52 percent and averaging a team-high 5.4 assists. He scored 13 points Wednesday after missing his first game Sunday with a hamstring problem.

Conley, the fourth overall pick in last year's draft by Memphis, made his first career start Wednesday and had seven points, eight assists and six rebounds.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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