Grizzlies-Celtics Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Celtics are no doubt happy to be home after three dreadful games on the West Coast.

The Memphis Grizzlies haven't been much better, having turned in three straight efforts of fewer than 90 points for the first time.

Both teams are searching for answers heading into Wednesday night's matchup, with the Celtics trying to avoid their first four-game slide.

Boston (14-16) began a four-game trip with a 93-76 victory over Brooklyn on Christmas Day before heading west. That's where the trip went south, with the Celtics falling by an average of 23.0 points in losses to the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and Sacramento.

The Celtics surrendered their second-highest point total of the season in a 118-96 loss to the Kings on Sunday. They allowed Sacramento to score 56 points in the paint and were outrebounded 45-35.

"Winning is hard. I don't know if all our guys get that,'' coach Doc Rivers said. "You have to play hard to win an NBA game. One game. It's difficult and we're not doing it."

The Celtics are last in the NBA with 38.5 rebounds per contest, and rumors are swirling that they could add a big man. Kevin Garnett's team-high 7.0 boards a game represent his lowest average since his rookie season.

"The reason why guys came back is because of what we built here and that we are known to defend,'' Garnett said. "For some reason, we've gotten away from that."

Boston has allowed its last two opponents to shoot 52.9 percent, but defending against Memphis (19-9) may not be too difficult. The Grizzlies have shot 39.1 percent and averaged 84.3 points in their last three games, and their marks of 41.2 percent and 87.3 points since Dec. 17 are the worst among Western Conference teams.

Memphis lost for the third time in four games Monday, 88-83 at Indiana. The Grizzlies led by seven entering the fourth quarter but shot 25.0 percent (5 of 20) over the final 12 minutes.

"We got a little selfish in the fourth quarter," point guard Mike Conley said. "We made a lot of bad turnovers and didn't continue to play our transition game."

Leading scorer Rudy Gay went 3 of 17 from the floor and scored 11 points - 7.0 below his average. Gay has averaged 14.4 points and 37.3 percent shooting in his last seven games.

Zach Randolph was a bright spot with 21 points and 15 rebounds for his league-best 22nd double-double.

Memphis is yielding 90.0 points per game, best in the NBA, but its offensive woes are making it increasingly difficult to take advantage of that stellar defense.

"We haven't committed to sharing the basketball and making the right decisions and that puts too much pressure on the defense," coach Lionel Hollins said.

A matchup to watch is at point guard. Boston's Rajon Rondo is averaging a league-high 11.6 assists and will be up against Conley, second in the NBA with 2.4 steals per game.

The Celtics have taken eight of the last 10 meetings with the Grizzlies.

Boston will receive a boost from the season debut of guard Avery Bradley following shoulder surgery. Bradley developed into a starter last season, paving the way for Ray Allen's departure to Miami.

What to Read Next