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This Column is Not About How the Celtics Are the Dirtiest Team in the League

In theory, this is the perfect time to host the Boston Celtics. The Big Green is coming off a disastrous West Coast swing and then a loss at Madison Square Garden, totaling 4 losses in their past 6 games. Then again, this is the same team that won 19 in a row.

The Bobcats are a very different team from the last time they faced the Celtics. Goodbye, JRich. Hello, Boris. Boston still has two primary points of attack: The two guards, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, will have opportunities to manhandle Raymond Felton, DJ Augustin, Matt Carroll, and whichever other guards the Cats want to throw out there. The front courts aren't really even, but they do match up naturally enough, with Okafor against Perkins, Diaw against Garnett, and Wallace against Pierce.

Who else is ready for Outside The Box Theatre? What about playing Ryan Hollins significant minutes with Felton, Diaw, Wallace, and Okafor? Dude is exactly the kind of guy who, on defense, can run out in KG's face, wave his arms, and get him overamped (in a way good for us). On offense, he can spread the floor a bit, but more important, he can go to the rim without fear. Normally, he's a fringe NBA player, but in this particular matchup, against KG, Powe, and the Celtics' collapsing zone help D, Hollins is a great matchup. Play Emeka alongside him, and Okafor can take Perkins and Big Baby. That would free Diaw to harass Ray Allen, a tough matchup for Jesus Shuttleworth, since he can't dribble by the big man, and shooting over him is just as tough a proposition. Gerald stays on Pierce as often as possible, and Felton and Augustin force Rondo to shoot jumpers as best they can.

Ideally, Larry Brown would exploit Diaw's versatility in ways like this, but he's kind of tied to his conception of what the team should be every night instead of thinking creatively about what the different pieces on hand can do in different combinations against different obstacles. The Celtics defense depends on teams giving up on penetration and inside-out scoring and daring you to stay at a distance. Well, then, go right at their strength, beat it, and force them to change; pound the block and fist bump the rim. In this particular instance, the Bobcats don't lose much on defense by going big, unless KG can own Hollins, in which case, it'd be simple enough to revert back to a more traditional lineup with Carroll or someone else at guard.

The Celtics are one of the top four teams in the league and the Bobcats most certainly are not. Charlotte will not win if they try to go out and do what they've been doing.