Toronto Raptors (4-10) at Boston Celtics (4-8)
Wednesday, January 18
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #13, Home Game #8
TV: CSNNE, SNET, NBA-LP 756
Radio: CJCL, WEEI
With the Celtics 3rd in the division and the Raptors 4th, they are fighting for the privilege of not being the worst team in their division. Both teams have lost 5 games in a row. The Celtics have lost their last 4 at home after winning their first 3 home games. The Raptors are 2-6 on the road.
The Celtics have yet to beat a team with a record over .500 but the Raptors aren't anywhere near that discussion. Right now, the Celtics just need a win and the 4-10 Raptors could be just what they need.
This should be a win for the Celtics. If not, the calls to blow the team up may get a lot louder.
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jermaine O'Neal
Keyon Dooling (knee) day to day
Chris Wilcox (calf) day to day
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Rasual Butler
PF: Ed Davis
C: Amir Johnson
Andrea Bargnani (calf) day to day
Jerryd Bayless (ankle) day to day
James Johnson (ankle) day to day
Aaron Gray (heart) out
Ray Allen vs DeMar DeRozan
Ray had an off game against the Thunder but other than that game, he has been the Celtics most consistent player. With both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett struggling with their offense and Jermaine O'Neal insisting that offense isn't his role, the Celtics need Ray to have a big game. Hopefully the fall he took on his shooting hand won't have any lasting effect on his shot.
Rajon Rondo vs Jose Calderon
The Celtics need Rondo to be aggressive yet again in this game. He should have an advantage over Calderon and needs to use his quickness and his aggressiveness to lead the Celtics to a win.
Kevin Garnett vs Ed Davis
KG has vowed to do whatever it takes to right the Celtics' ship. It doesn't help that he's been dealing with a sore ankle but sore ankle or not, he should be able to win this matchup.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Celtics have got to crash the boards to prevent second chance points. They finally out rebounded an opponent in their last game and they have to keep that effort up and not let it be a one game thing. The effort they put out on the boards will usually spread to other areas of the game as well.
Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics have been turning the ball over way too much. They will make a run in a game to tie it or take the lead and then they will turn the ball over several times only to dig themselves into a hole. They have to make smarter passes and pay attention to the opponents so as not to allow them to get an easy steal. They also have to handle the ball better and not drive into a crowd only to lose possession of the ball. The Thunder scored 24 points off of 19 Celtics turnovers. This is unacceptable.
Defense - The Celtics must make defense a priority in each and every game. They seem to play defense in spurts and in between they allow easy baskets and wide open shots. They must play strong defense all game. With the Raptors, they must particularly guard the perimeter as they love to shoot from beyond the arc.
Make Shots and Take Advantage of Opportunities - There are times when it seems as though no one on the Celtics can hit the broad side of a barn. They miss jumpers, layups, 3 pointers, and shots in the paint. I thing they lead the league in missed layups as there are several missed layups every game. This inability to hit shots keeps them from taking advantage of opportunities. They scored just 2 points off of turnovers in their last game and missed several fast break opportunities when they blew the shot or a layup.
Stafford is currently in his 21st season as an NBA referee. He has officiated 1,000+ regular season games and 60+ play-off games. He worked for the US Postal Service for 10 years, which may explain his quick trigger when it comes to technical fouls. Stafford was fined as a result of a complaint that Lawrence Frank made when he was coach of the Nets and there are several other articles detailing complaints about Stafford for his actions or comments, including an ongoing feud with Pat Riley. Mr Stafford has a reputation as a hot head who loves to give out quick technicals and lash out at players and coaches. The Celtics are 6-4 over the last 10 games with Stafford on the court. The Raptors are 1-9 over their last 10 with Stafford. His home W/L record this season is 7-4.
This is Lane's first season as a referee. He spent 7 years as a college referee. He has also officiated in the D-League for several seasons and was one of the replacement refs during the recent referee strike. This is his second game this season for the Celtics. He was one of the refs in the Detroit game, which the Celtics won. This is his first game for the Raptors. His home team W/L record this season is 4-5.
Tommy Nunez, Jr
Nunez has officiated over 200+ regular season games. He is the son of former referee and current Group Supervisor for the league, Tommy Nunez, Sr. He started his officiating career calling games in a Hispanic league in his neighborhood for $3.50 an hour. He moved on to callin high school and junior college games. His big break came while officiating an exhibition game with the Phoenix Suns. Darrell Garretson saw him work and suggested he try out to become an NBA referee. In 1972, Nunez became the first Hispanic to referee in any major sport. In the offseason Nunez works with at risk kids in job training programs. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Nunez and the Raptors are 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 5-5.
Focus and Desire
The Celtics have lost focus in each of their losses. They dig themselves into a hole and then play great ball to catch up and then seem to lose focus and make errors on both ends to let the other team bury them again. They must keep their focus and play good basketball for 48 minutes. If they want this win badly enough, and don't self destruct, they should be able to get it. .