at Staples Center, 10:30 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
--PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH--
Welcome aboard: Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic -- who were acquired Thursday in a trade that saw Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder -- are expected to make their Celtic debuts tonight. Krstic could get the starting nod at center, while Green should come off the bench as part of the second unit with the likes of Delonte West and Glen Davis. Both Green and Krstic participated in the team's morning shootaround, but that only gave them a minor introduction to Boston's schemes, so it'll be interesting to see how the duo fares on both ends of the floor tonight.
Roarding Rondo: Rajon Rondo's always been more of a distributor than a scorer, but his passing has taken a back seat to his scoring in his career against the Clippers. In eight career games against Los Angeles, Rondo is averaging 15.6 points per game on a scorching 60.2 percent shooting, good for his highest career scoring average against any one opponent. Last season against the Clippers in Los Angeles, Rondo registered 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting, but handed out only six assists. In nine career games against the Clippers, Rondo's assist average sits at just 5.8 per game.
The Blake Show: Not counting the All-Star game, Celtics fans will get their first look at Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin. The high-flying power forward has injected new life into the Clippers, making them one of the more exciting draws in the league right now. Griffin plays with a raw intensity and should be matched up with Kevin Garnett tonight, setting the stage for one of the season's most exciting head-to-head battles.
--GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)--
Both hope to be cleared Saturday, but coach Vinny Del Negro thinks it's more likely they'll debut Monday at Sacramento.
The Clippers played their first game in Los Angeles since Feb. 2 on Friday, but their matchup with the Lakers was technically an away game -- their 11th in a row. To cap the league's longest road trip since 1978, the Clippers trailed by just two at halftime but were outscored 33-17 in the third quarter en route to a 108-95 loss.
Read the full preview HERE.
--MEET BOSTON'S NEW FACES--
The Celtics and Jeff Green aren't exactly strangers, seeing as Boston selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, before including him in the trade package to Seattle that brought over Ray Allen. Green's steadily developed into a solid offensive NBA player, who's shooting range extends all the way out to the three-point line. Standing at 6-foot-9, Green is capable of filling in at the power forward position, but given the Celtics' depth at that position in Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis, look for Green to serve as more of a necessary backup to Paul Pierce. Green's versatile enough to play the small forward position, and he'll bring some much needed stability and offensive firepower to Boston's bench. Green was averaging over 15 points and five rebounds per game for the Thunder this season. In addition, he's a strong, quick body that should come in handy for the Celtics on the defensive end, when they face teams with talented small forwards like LeBron James and Luol Deng. Overall, the Celtics are bringing in a talented player, who, at 24, will have an immediate impact on this team, and should play a key role on the teams of the future. Green's contract expires at the end of this season, and while a new collective bargaining agreement has yet to be put in place, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge clearly felt the team could lock Green up long-term when they made this deal.
The Celtics also brought in Nenad Krstic, who isn't exactly the second coming of Kendrick Perkins. Krstic, who stands right at seven feet tall, entered the league several seasons ago with a lot of promise as a member of the New Jersey Nets. He played for the Nets for four seasons, coached by none other than current Celtics assistant coach, Lawrence Frank. Krstic was in the midst of his most productive season during the 2006-2007 campaign, when he tore the ACL in his left knee during a game in December of 2006. Krstic put up solid numbers for Oklahoma City this season (7.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 21.7 minutes) and he'll serve as a reliable backup center for Boston once Shaquille O'Neal returns from his inflamed right Achilles tendon. Krstic isn't as physical of a defender as Perkins was, nor will he be as productive on the glass, but he's much more versatile on the offensive end, as he's capable of scoring inside, or stepping out and knocking down the 16-foot jump shot. Once he becomes acclimated with the Celtics' system, he could very well become more productive on the defensive end of the floor.