Fresh off a revitalizing 93-76 win over the Nets on Christmas Day, the Celtics start their first West Coast road trip in Los Angeles. The three-game swing against the Clippers, Warriors, and Kings will act as something of a test for the Celtics to stay above .500 (they're 14-13) and sort out various roster issues a quarter of the way through the season. Here are five things we can learn from the trip ... Next
<strong>1. Can they beat a good team?</strong>
The Celtics' lone win against a really good team this season came at home against Oklahoma City. The Clippers have the league's best record at 22-6, and they've won 14 games in a row. The Celtics should be motivated after a big win over the Nets, but Brooklyn's legitimacy as a contender is now in question after they fired coach Avery Johnson Thursday. The Clippers are for real and should be a great test Thursday night. Next
<strong>2. Can Paul Pierce lead without scoring?</strong>
One of the best parts of the Christmas Day win over the Nets was Paul Pierce's dominance despite scoring only eight points. Pierce had 10 assists and 5 rebounds, and the Celtics offense ran efficiently through him. Coming off games where Pierce scored 40 points and 35 points, the worry was that the Celtics might be relying too much on their captain to score. Pierce The Facilitator seems like a better option. Next
3. Can Jared Sullinger earn more minutes?
The Celtics have been seeking more toughness and rebounding out of their big men, and right on cue Tuesday comes rookie Jared Sullinger. In an efficient 32 minutes, Sullinger had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He's undersized, but he's the best rebounder the Celtics have, and he's exceptionally creative on offense. Sullinger is averaging 17.7 minutes per game. The Celtics would do well to see what he can do with more time. Next
4. Can the bench contribute?
And we're really talking about Jeff Green (pictured), Sullinger, and Courtney Lee here. Green has frustrated Celtics fans with his up-and-down play, but his recovery from heart surgery earlier this year has definitely slowed his production. The Celtics want Green to take the lead on offense in the second unit. He had 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting Tuesday, which is exactly where he needs to be. Lee is still struggling to find any kind of consistency and may be out of a role when Avery Bradley comes back next week. Next
<strong>5. Can Brandon Bass rebound?</strong>
See what we did there? Bass needs to rebound better in the literal sense and also to bounce back from being taken out of the starting lineup. He's a much better player than Jason Colllins, but Collins got the start vs. the Nets to send a statement to Bass that he needs to play with more force. Bass was crucial for the Celtics during last season's playoffs. He needs to get back to that level of production again. Back to the beginning
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