Celtics at Hawks Game 2 - Celtics Look to Even the Series Without their Engine

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Boston Celtics (0-1) at Atlanta Hawks (1-0)
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
7:30 PM ET
Round 1 Game #2, Road Game #2
TV: NBA-TV, CSNNE, FSSO, TSN
Radio: WEEI, WCNN
Philips Arena
Referees: Scott Foster, Ed Malloy, Scott Wall

The Celtics come into this game short handed. With Rondo out, they are missing their engine. Others will have to step up their game to make up for his absence. Keyon Dooling and Avery Bradley will especially have to pick it up. Paul Pierce is another player who may take on more of the ball handling duties as well. He had a poor shooting game 1 and so is due to bounce back for a good one in game 2.

Ray is still considered day to day but there isn't a lot of optimism that we will see him in this game (or any other, for that matter), although they sure could use him. Pietrus will start in the back court with Bradley to make up for Rondo's absence. I imagine that we will see more of Sasha or maybe even Moore in this game off the bench. Remember when Doc said that one of the subs would have to come up big for us at some point in the playoffs? Well that time has come sooner than later.

The Celtics must come out with a better effort to start the game. They came out flat in game 1 and dug a hole that they never could dig their way out of. They have to come out strong and jump on the Hawks right from the start. And they have to play hard right until the final buzzer.

I expect the Celtics to pull together and have a better game. They have been here before, playing without their point guard or other key players. They have proved in the past that they can overcome adversity with heart. They are 8-5 without Rondo this season and hopefully they can pull together and make it 9-5 after this game.

Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard

vs

Avery Bradley vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

vs

Mickael Pietrus vs Kirk Hinrich

Small Forward

vs

Paul Pierce vs Joe Johnson

Power Forward

vs

Brandon Bass vs Josh Smith

Center

vs

Kevin Garnett vs Jason Collins

Key Matchups

vs

Brandon Bass vs Josh Smith

Whether it is Bass or switch KG on Smith, they must do a better job of defending him. Smith went off for 22 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in game 1. That should never be. In past games this season, the Celtics were able to hold him to 11 points below his season average but they simply didn't get the job done in game 1. They must defend Smith better and also box out to keep him off the boards.

vs

Paul Pierce vs Joe Johnson

Both Pierce and Johnson had terrible games in the opener. Johnson shot 3-15 from the field for 11 points and was 0-9 from beyond the arc. Pierce shot 5-19 for 12 points and was 0-6 from the line. Both missed many wide open shots. With Rondo out, Pierce will need to help facilitate the offense and play point forward. If either of these two get hot, it could be the difference between a win or a loss for their team.

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Jeff Teague

With Rondo out, Avery needs to be aggressive and set the pace of the game. They will also need his scoring and his defense on Teague who lit the Celtics up for 15 points in game 1, including a couple of huge 3 pointers down the stretch.

Keys to the Game

Defense - Defense is key to every win, especially in the playoffs. Teams that don't ramp up their defense in the playoffs don't win. It's as simple as that. The Celtics need to play tough team defense. They have to guard the perimeter as the Hawks have good 3 point shooters who can kill a team from out there. They also have to defend the paint because players like Smith and Johnson and Johnson can get to the hoop and score there, especially on tip ins.

Rebound - The Celtics must make an effort to go after rebounds. The Celtics were out rebounded 50-41 in game 1. They must box out and prevent tip ins and to prevent the Hawks from getting second chance baskets. They simply must do a better job of crashing the board and chasing down rebounds. No rebounds, no wins.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after rebounds and loose balls. They must be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers. They also have to be aggressive on defense and get stops. They came out flat in game 1 and allowed Atlanta to be the more aggressive team. The Celtics must play like they want it more.


Focus
- The Celtics need to keep their focus for 48 minutes. They have to take care of the ball and not make careless passes. They have to make their free throws. And they have to play as a team and not lapse into hero ball with each one trying to make up for their missing teammates. They also must play through any bad calls by the ref. They can't let officials take them out of their game.


Bench Play
- The Celtics bench is thin with Ray out and one of the reserves moving up to replace Rondo in the starting lineup. The remaining players must pick up the scoring slack and give the Celtics some production off the bench. Doc played just 9 players in game one and got just 4 points from the reserves compared to 17 from the Hawks. The Celtics reserves did out rebound the Hawks reserves 13 -12 with 9 rebounds coming from Greg Stiemsma.

Run the Offense - The Celtics must run their offense. They have to move the ball and find the open man. Good ball movement opens up good shot opportunities. If the jumpers aren't falling, they have to find a way to get to the basket and either score or draw a foul. Good things happen when they go to the hoop. They can't lapse into bad shots or trying to do too much individually to make up for Rondo's absence. They have to continue to run plays and move the ball.


Official Report

Scott Foster

A veteran official of 17 NBA seasons, Scott Foster has worked 1,074 regular season and 80 playoff games, including seven Finals games during his career. He was a

member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Europe Tour in Berlin, Germany and Seville, Spain. In addition to his NBA experience, Foster has two years of CBA officiating experience, two years of collegiate officiating experience and six years of high school officiating experience in Maryland. Prior to becoming an official, Foster modeled for department store mannequin mold makers. He came into the public eye as the best friend of former referee Tim Donaghy. In his book, Donaghy describes Foster as a very honest and good guy who knew nothing of his gambling. However, recently Donaghy described Foster as a company man who will do what is asked of him to keep his seniority among refs. Foster was also part of the 2010 Finals game 7 officiating crew that called the final quarter completely different than the first 3 quarters and very one sided for the Lakers with 21 free throws for the Lakers and 6 for the Celtics in the final 12 minutes. The Celtics are 3-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Foster on the court. In the OT win over the Knicks, NY shot 26 free throws to 22 for the Celtics. In the first loss, at New Orleans, the Celtics shot 18 free throws to 25 for the Hornets. The second loss, at Denver, was horribly officiated. At the end of 3 quarters, the Nuggets had 22 free throws to 5 for the Celtics. They ignored fouls against the Celtics all game but at the same time, called them for ticky tack and non-existent fouls. For the game, the Nuggets shot 31 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. The 4th game was against Miami and was called evenly with the Celtics shooting 25 free throws to 27 for the Heat. The final game was a win over the Bucks where they shot 23 free throws to 11 for the Celtics. The Hawks are 2-0 this season and 6-4 with Foster in their last 10 games. His home W/L record this season is 30-21. Foster as a lead ref makes me nervous.

Ed Malloy

Malloy has officiated 577 regular season NBA games and 22 playoff games over the past nine seasons. He officiated his first two Finals games during the 2010-11 season. Prior to joining the NBA, Malloy officiated for one season in the

NBA D-League, three seasons in the CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. He worked the 2002 DLeague Finals and the 2001 CBA Finals. In 2003, when Doc was with Orlando, Malloy called a technical foul on Andrew DeClercq for staring. Doc called it one of the worst calls he ever saw (boy has he seen a lot worse since then!)and he said that he felt that Malloy had been intimidated all night. Fast forward to the Celtics game in Utah last season when Malloy, no longer intimidated, called 2 quick technicals on Doc and ejected him. Here is Doc's version of those calls.

"I just told Ed [Malloy], please keep officiating the game," said Rivers. "That’s all I said. I thought the play before [the technical] was a clear travel in front of him. So I just said, ‘Hey Ed, it’d be nice if you’d keep officiating throughout.’ He gave me a tech. Then I said, ‘That’s the best call you’ve made all night.’ Usually, it’s nice to earn them, but [Monday's technicals were] another bad call."

Malloy was also on the crew that officiated game 1 of the Miami series in the 2010 playoffs where 5 technicals were called and Kevin Garnett was ejected. He also ejected Paul Pierce from game 1 of the 2011 semifinals vs the Heat. You would think he'd get over it already! This is the Celtics third game with Malloy this season. The first was a loss in Dallas where the Mavs shot 14 free throws to 11 for the Celtics. The second was a win in NJ where the Nets shot 28 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The Hawks are 2-1 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Malloy as a ref. Malloy is also one of the refs who called the first Knicks/Heat game and made that horrible flagrant foul called on Chandler for the screen he set on LeBaby. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record of 31-17.

Scott Wall

The son of former USA Basketball Director Bill Wall, Scott Wall has officiated

908 regular season games and five playoff games over his past 16 NBA seasons. In addition to his NBA experience, Wall has four years of officiating experience for

USA Basketball, four years of collegiate officiating experience in the Atlantic Coast, Ohio Valley, and Trans America Athletic Conferences, and five years of high school officiating experience in Kansas and Alabama. He lives in Merritt Island, Florida. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Wall. In the two losses the Celtics shot 25 free throws to 34 for their opponents. In the loss to the Cavs, the Celtics were down 1 with the ball and they refused to call a very obvious foul against Paul Pierce. In the win vs the Heat The Celtics shot 22 free throws to 17 for the Heat. The Hawks are 2-3 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Wall on the court. His home W/L record this season is 28-14

X-Factors

Pride and Officiating

If Celtic Pride means anything to these players, they will come ready to play and come out strong and focused and play hard for 45 minutes. We have seen in game 1 how a referee can change the game. One plus is that hopefully we won't see Marc Davis again this round. But that doesn't mean they will call the game fairly either.

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