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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Boston Celtics preview -- Game 23; Is Larry Brown checked out?

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The Big Picture: Even Larry Brown's biggest public cheerleader is acknowledging that Brown might be checked out, which is a shame, because LB is a basketball lifer and it's sad to see someone lose faith in something he loves. However, I hope Rick Bonnell's illogical alarms don't rule the day. Paraphrased:

1 -- If Brown leaves, we might get a worse coach. Totally true. We might also get a better one. There's evidence that Michael Jordan prefers hiring buddies/retreads, but it's hardly a foregone conclusion that we won't get a better coach than this version of Larry Brown.

2 -- Minutes are not a birthright. Youngsters have to earn them. Everyone agrees with this. Nikoloz Tskitishvili sucked and shouldn't have played as much as he did. However, the Bobcats under Larry Brown have been extreme in their practice of withholding playing time from young players. As I've noted before, in 2009, the only first round draft picks to play fewer NBA minutes than Gerald Henderson were Earl Clark (Phoenix was loaded with big men), Byron Mullens (pick #24, spent most of season in D-League), Ricky Rubio, Victor Claver, Christian Eyenga, and Blake Griffin, none of whom played a single minute, for various reasons.

Furthermore, Tyler Hansbrough is a bad comparison to the Bobcats' situation. He has fallen out of the rotation because Josh McRoberts is playing very well at the moment. The Bobcats have one guy playing that well: Tyrus Thomas, and he doesn't play more than 20 minutes per game. Also, Hansbrough has a history of vertigo issues and sprained his ankle badly enough to miss games earlier this year, and Derrick Brown is the picture of health. I think they're different. And, for what it's worth, the Pacers are actually over .500, so maybe it's best for them to put off using game time to discover what their young players can do.

Enough about that unpleasantness for now, though. Tonight, the Cats play the Boston Celtics. On Thursday, the Celtics beat the 76ers on a last-second alley-oop layup by Kevin Garnett, and they're firing on all cylinders, having won nine straight. With Rajon Rondo's emergence as everything Derrick Rose was supposed to be, the Celtics' championship window has been widened, and as long as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Garnett are still good -- if not All Star -- players, they'll be Eastern Conference contenders.

Musical Interlude: New Found Glory -- "Dressed to Kill"

Key to Victory: D.J. Augustin will be challenged with containing Rondo, a monumental task. It seems most teams try to sag off and dare him to shoot. However, that also allows him to get up to speed off the dribble before his defender engages him. I'd love to see D.J. get up in his face and dare him to dribble around and past. D.J.'s probably not quick enough to make it a permanent strategy, but if he surprises Rondo with it, it could be effective.

Detail That May Interest .08% of You: After the game, I'm headed to a party, wearing this.