Boston Celtics (1-1) at Atlanta Hawks (1-1)
Friday, May 4, 2012
7:30 PM ET
Game #3, Home Game #1
TV: ESPN, CSNNE, SNET1, SPSO
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Ron Garretson, Zach Zarba
Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics return home with the series tied 1-1. They have wrested home court advantage back from the Hawks and now they must hang on to it and take advantage of playing at home before what should be a very loud home crowd.
They have had 2 days off and should be recharged and ready. Rondo will be back and should be raring to go after his suspension and knowing that his teammates had his back in game 2. The momentum has swung back to the Celtics after their big win. Losing to a Rondo-less Celtics team, after leading by 11 in the 3rd quarter has to have the Hawks a bit demoralized.
Injuries are still the topic of the day for both teams. Josh Smith left game 2 and has been diagnosed with patellar tendonitis and has been upgraded to a game time decision but has been ruled out for tonight's game. . Marvin Williams or Ivan Johnson is expected to start in his place if he can't go. Pachulia is still listed as day to day while Horford is still out although the Hawks coach has hinted that he might play in the series. For the Celtics Ray Allen is still day to day and was able to go through a full practice on Thursday. Hopefully the ankle won't swell again after the practice. It would be a huge boost if he could play even limited minutes.
The Celtics need to take care of of their house. They can't afford any more sluggish starts or loss of focus if they expect to win this series. They have shown they are the better team and will win if they stay focused. It's time to get serious and bring Gino out for this one.
PG: Rajon Rondo 11.9 PPG, 11.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, PER 17.55
SG: Avery Bradley 7.6 PPG, 1.4 APG, 1.8 RPG, PER 11.31
SF: Paul Pierce 19.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, 5.2 RPG PER 19.69
PF: Brandon Bass 12.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG, PER 14.21
C: Kevin Garnett 15.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.0 BPG, PER 20.47
Ray Allen (ankle) game time decision
PG Jeff Teague 12.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.4 RPG, PER 15.83
SG Kirk Hinrich 6.6 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.1 RPG, PER 9.28
SF Joe Johnson 18.8 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.7 RPG, PER 18.50
PF Marvin Williams 10.2 PPG 5.2 RPG 0.3 BPG PER 15.8
C Jason Collins 1.3 PPG 1.6 RPG 0.1 BPG PER 3.76
Al Horford (Pectoral) out
Zaza Pachulia (foot) day to day
Josh Smith (knee) game time decision
Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague
Teague has been solid for the Hawks in both games so far. He is quick and has the ability to hit big shots. If left open behind the 3 point line, he is very capable of hitting big shots. Rondo set the pace of the game and keep Teague from getting the Hawks into their offense quickly. With his teammates reporting that they got the win in game 2 for their suspended point guard, I expect Rondo to come out in this one with a purpose and to have a huge game.
Paul Pierce vs Joe Johnson
To say that Paul Pierce was huge in game 2 is an understatement. He put the team on his back and carried them to victory. With 2 days rest and back in his home territory, he should be ready to go in this one. Johnson has had 2 sub par shooting games so far and there's always the concern that he could go off for a big game himself. The Celtics need to keep a body on him and limit his effectiveness.
Brandon Bass vs Marvin Williams
The Hawks just announced that Smith will be out of tonight's game. No announcement has been made as to who will start in his place. My guess is Marvin Williams. Williams is not a great defender so this could be Bass' chance to shine in this series. He has scored just 8 points on 3-7 shooting in both games so far, which is far from what he was doing in the regular season. The Celtics sure could use his offense and it would be great if he could find his shot in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - This is the key to every game and to winning a championship this year. The Hawks are a good 3 point shooting team as well as having the ability to get to the basket and so the Celtics must defend both the perimeter and the paint. They won game 2 by clamping down defensively. They need to show that same tough team defense from start to finish in this game.
Rebound - Rebounding is key to controlling the tempo and flow of the game. The Celtics must limit tip ins and second chance points by crashing the boards and limiting the Hawks rebounds. It's not a coincidence that the Celtics were out-rebounded in their loss 50-41 but they won the rebounding battle 45-40 in their win. Rebounding is effort and desire and when the Celtics show both effort and desire on the boards that translates to all the other areas of the game.
Run the Offense - With their playmaker back, the Celtics should be able to move the ball and get open shots. They have to trust each other and make the extra pass. When they hold the ball too much and play hero ball, nothing good can come of it. Rondo should have 20 assists in this game if they move without the ball and get open for his passes. With 2 days rest, they should have their legs under them again and hopefully will hit their shots.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket. Driving into the paint will give them a basket or free throws or the opportunity to kick it out to an open teammate. They can't just settle for jumpers, especially if they aren't falling. They also must be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds. They can't let the Hawks out hustle them. They must play like they want it more.
McCutchen has officiated 1,085 regular season, 80 playoff, and four Finals games. He worked the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 and 1997 Mexico Challenges, as well as the 1998 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, McCutchen spent four seasons in the CBA, where he worked the All Star game his second year and the playoffs all four years. He also officiated the CBA Finals the last three years he was with the league. McCutchen missed the 1998-99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He is a former elementary and middle school teacher and is fondly remembered by his students as a really nice guy. In searching for information on him, I found a Cavs' blog that blamed a loss to the Celtics on the officiating of Monty McCutchen. That was the game where Mike Brown was ejected and the Cavs made a furious comeback but fell short. Other than that, there's not a lot of controversy about McCutchen. The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with McCutchen on the court. One win this season was against the Knicks where they let them play and the Celtics shot 24 free throws to 21 for the Knicks. The second win was against the Bobcats where it was just the opposite. They called ticky tack fouls on both sides and let nothing go as evidenced by the 45 free throws taken by the Celtics and 35 by the Bobcats but the game was called fairly for both teams. The 3rd win was the Celtics subs vs the Heat's subs and they let them play with the Celtics taking 16 free throws to 7 for the Heat. The loss was to the Bulls where the Bulls shot 26 free throws to 18 for the Celtics. The Hawks are 3-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 with McCutchen. His home W/L record this season is 38-17.
Garretson, the son of former NBA official Darell Garretson (1967-94), has officiated 1,605 regular season and 182 playoff games, including 11 NBA Finals games, over his 24 seasons in the NBA. In addition, Garretson has two years of CBA officiating experience and two years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Garretson earned his Associate of Arts degree from Golden West Junior College. He played football and basketball at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif. and was recognized for his athletic achievements in 2000 when he was inducted into Servite High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Garretson. The loss this season was to the Thunder and the Celtics shot 16 free throws to 19 for the Thunder. The game was called evenly and they let them play. The Hawks are 2-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Garretson. Garretson's home W/L record this season is 37-18.
Zach Zarba has officiated 504 regular season NBA games and 13 Playoff games during his eight-year career. Prior to joining the NBA, Zarba officiated in the NBA Development League for two years where he was part of the crew that officiated The 2003 D-League Finals. He also spent one year officiating in the CBA and two years officiating in the IBL. Zarba has three years of collegiate officiating experience. In addition, he has three years of high school officiating experience in New York. The Celtics are 2-2 with Zarba this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with him. The first 3 games this season were called somewhat evenly. The 4th game was the infamous April 11 OT game against Atlanta where the officiating was horrible. The Hawks shot 23 free throws to 13 for the Celtics. KG fouled out in that game on a terrible call. They were holding his jersey and had an elbow in his back and they called the foul on KG. Stiemsma fouled out shortly after on two more terrible calls. In the 4th quarter, 12 fouls were called on the Celtics and only 4 on the Hawks. In OT, 4 fouls were called on the Celtics while none were called on the Hawks, even through there were several very obvious fouls committed. Most of the bad calls were made by Marc Davis, but Zarba was on the court as well. The Hawks are 2-4 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Zarba as an official. His home W/L record this season is 36-20.
Home Court, Focus, Injuries and Officiating
The Celtics are home and should get a boost from the home crowd that KG was boasting about after game 2. The Celtics have to be focused from the opening tip to the final buzzer. There is no room for a slow start or for letting up before the end of the game. We have seen how officiating can change a game and so we have to hope for fairness from the refs and maybe even some home court calls. The status of Ray Allen and Josh Smith could also be factors. Both are listed as game time decisions.