Houston Rockets (21-15) at Boston Celtics (18-17)
Friday, January 11, 2013
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #36, Home Game #18
TV: CSN-NE, CSN-H, NBA-LP 752(HOU)/753(BOS)
Radio: WEEI, KBME
Referees: Bill Kennedy, Tony Brown, Olandis Poole
The Celtics host Kevin Mchale the Houston Rockets, looking to avenge their earlier loss and to keep their season high 4 game win streak going. The Rockets are coming off a loss to New Orleans, but before that, they had won 5 in a row and have been playing very well.
The Celtics lost to the Rockets 101-89 in Houston on their recent 4 game trip that started on Christmas Day. In that game, they had a 2 point lead at the half but were outscored 58-44 in the second half. The Celtics shot only 40% in that game. Houston is 8-3 in their last 11 games in Boston.
The Rockets are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 5-5, in spite of winning their last 4 in a row. The Celtics have played well at home with an 11-6 record at the Garden. On the other hand, the Rockets have struggled somewhat on the road, going just 7-9.
The Celtics are finally back over .500 and they are looking to stay there. After the Celtics win over the Knicks, Courtney Lee said that he wants to go on a 20 game win streak starting with these 5 home games. That would be nice, but they have to do it one game at a time, starting with this one.
Probable Starting Matchups
Chris Wilcox (thumb) day to day
Fab Melo (concussion) out
Rajon Rondo vs Jeremy Lin
Since Linsanity became a phenomenon, Rondo had delighted in showing up Lin in every meeting they've had. In their meeting this season in Houston Rondo had 15 points, 13 assists and 4 steals, to outplay Lin's 5 points, 7 assists, and 1 steal. Look for more of the same in this game.
Avery Bradley vs James Harden
In the last game between these teams, Harden was guarded by Jason Terry and scored a team high 21 points to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. This time, Bradley should make things a bit harder on him.
Kevin Garnett vs Omer Asik
Asik is a good defender and so KG will have to use his veteran wiles to get his shot off against him. Asik won't put up a ton of points, but he is a double double threat and KG will need to try to keep him off the boards.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics must keep their defensive mindset. Defense wins games and it will win a championship. The Celtics are finally coming together defensively, and that trend needs to continue. It has been their defense that led to their season high 4 game winning streak. Houston leads the NBA in scoring at 106 points per game and so it will be absolutely crucial for the Celtics to play lock down defense in this game.
Rebounding - Rebounding is second to defense in importance in winning games. The Celtics need to put out effort to crash the boards and prevent the Rockets second chance points and fast break opportunities which Lin and Harden will take full advantage of. Rebounding is effort and desire and when they Celtics bring the effort on the boards, it spreads to the other areas of their game.
Be Aggressive - Too many times we see the Celtics get beat to loose balls and rebounds. The Celtics have to be aggressive in going after loose balls, grabbing rebounds and taking the ball to the basket. The more aggressive team will get more respect from the refs and they also take some steam out of the other team by attacking and being active.
Bench Play - The Celtics need their second unit to come in and contribute on both ends of the court. It was the reserves that pulled out the game against the Suns behind strong play from Sully, Green, Lee and Terry. It would be great to start seeing consistency from this group and they will need it in this game. A key matchup off the bench in this game will be Greg Smith vs Sully. Smith torched the Celtics off the bench for 20 points (8-9) with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in their last meeting. Sully needs to make sure that doesn't happen again.
Home Court and Swagger
The Celtics are in the midst of a home stand and they need to use the energy from the crowd to give them a boost. The Celtics are getting their swagger back that has been missing so far this season. Hopefully they keep it.
Bill Kennedy’s 14 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 865 regular season and 53 playoff games, including four Finals games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has five years of officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated two games in the WNBA Finals in 1998, and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. The Arizona native attended Arizona State University after graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix. While a student at St. Mary’s he was named Knight of the Year in 1984 for his athletic achievements. Kennedy’s charitable efforts include working with former NBA official Tommy Nuñez’s tournament, "The National Hispanic Basketball Classic," to help raise money for inner-city kids. He also works with the Boys & Girls Club of Phoenix. He was named "Youth of the Year" twice by of the Boys & Girls Club of Phoenix and is now a lifetime member.
Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs and certainly, Kennedy hasn't forgotten. Here is how Doc described the incident:
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. Go figure. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. The Celtics are 7-3 with Kennedy in their last 10 games with him as an official. This is his first game for the Celtics this season. In a win over the Pacers last season, Indiana shot 31 free throws to 14 for the Celtics. When the Pacers were down 7, Kennedy called a bogus flagrant foul on Pietrus that gave the Pacers 2 shots and the ball. And if that wasn't enough he called another technical on Pietrus for protesting the bad call. In a 7 point game with 34 seconds to go, they handed the Pacers 5 points. Much was said about Kennedy's past with Doc before game 6 with Atlanta last season, but that game was well officiated, with the Celtics getting some big calls down the stretch. Kennedy got the Celtics back in the next game he officiated, as in game 4 of the Philly series, the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 36 for the Sixers and every questionable call was in favor of the Sixers. The Rockets are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Kennedy and, as with the Celtics, this is his first game with them this season. His home W/L record this season is 18-12.
Tony Brown has officiated 586 regular season games and two playoff games in his first 10 seasons as an NBA official. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated for four seasons in the NBA Development League and CBA and three in the WNBA. During that time he worked the 2002 NBA D-League Finals, the 2002 WNBA All-Star Game and the 2001 CBA Finals. Brown attended Florida A&M prior to transferring to Clark Atlanta University, where he received his degree in Finance. As a member of the basketball team, Brown earned All-State honors at Amos P. Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Celtics are 0-1 with Brown this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Brown. The loss was to the Spurs where the Spurs shot 20 free throws to 8 for the Celtics and the officiating was one sided in their favor for much of the game. The Rockets are 1-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 21-7.
Poole joined the NBA officiating staff nine years ago and has officiated 467 games. After three seasons in the NBA Development League, where he worked the postseason each year, Poole spent 12 years in the college ranks in the Southeastern Conference, Big East, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Big 12, Southern Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, and Atlantic Sun Conference. He officiated the NCAA Tournament from 1996 through 2004, including the 2004 NCAA Final Four. While attending Newport News Apprentice School, he received Basketball MVP honors three out of four years.
The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Poole as a ref. In his last game with the Celtics last season, along with Bill Kennedy, who is also calling this game, the refs called a flagrant 1 on Mickael Pietrus, which was a terrible call. They gave the Pacers 2 free throws and the ball plus an additional technical free throw when they protested the bogus call. He called a win over Toronto and the loss to the Kings this season. The Rockets are 2-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 with Poole. His home W/L record this season is 11-12.