David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics (6-5) will square off against the ageless Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs (8-3) on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
When was the last time that the Celtics and Spurs weren't title contenders?
The answer? Never. Or it feels that way, at least.
Boston and San Antonio are seemingly always in the mix at the end of the season, and that's a testament to two very well run organizations with the top two coaches in the game. They'll put it all on display when the two teams meet for the only time this season on Wednesday night inside TD Garden in Boston.
San Antonio's reign of dominance began in the late 1990's, sparked by all-time greats David "The Admiral" Robinson and Tim Duncan. Robinson and Duncan went on to win two titles together in 1999 and 2003, and after Robinson retired after that season, Duncan went on to win two more titles in 2005 and 2007.
We all know Boston has had its fair share of success, too. After all, the Celtics have more championship (17) than any other team in the league. The early and mid-2000's were not a particularly successful time for the Celts, but when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined forces with longtime Bostonian Paul Pierce, that would change. The Celtics went on to win their league-leading 17th title in 2007-08 and came within one quarter of winning another in 2010.
The winning ways have continued into this season, at least for San Antonio. The Spurs boast an 8-3 record thus far, placing them second in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference. After opening the year with seven wins in eight games, the Spurs have fallen back to earth with losses in two of their last three contests. Most recently, the Los Angeles Clippers posted a 92-87 victory over San Antonio despite a 20-point, 14-point performance from Duncan. Without surprise, Duncan has been the Spurs' anchor, averaging team highs in points (18.0), rebounds (10.0) and blocks (2.73). Four other Spurs are averaging 10 or more points, highlighted by Tony Parker (13.9 PPG) and Danny Green (11.2 PPG). And of course, there's the always helpful Manu Ginobili (10.4 PPG).
The grass hasn't been much greener in Boston, however. The Celtics have struggled on the defensive end all year long, and they have a mediocre 6-5 record to show for it. It looked like Boston was headed in the right direction after turning the tables following two straight losses to open the season, winning five of six games. Unfortunately, they regressed -- losing two of three, including a bad 20-point loss to the hapless Detroit Pistons. Rajon Rondo would extend his assist of games with double-digit assists to 34 games -- 10 away from the NBA record set by Magic Johnson -- but it was the only bright spot in an ugly 103-83 defeat. Rondo has been playing at a high level all year long, averaging 13.2 points and 13.1 assists, while Paul Pierce (19.3 PPG) and Kevin Garnett (15.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG) have had solid years as well.
Wednesday's match up will feature an intriguing battle of the bigs, with two all-time greats in Duncan and Garnett. Both began their careers as power forwards, but with time have shifted to the five when needed. Don't be fooled, though; both still pack a punch, and they'll likely trade post ups and baskets.
Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and the game will air on CSNNE/WEEI.