Celtics visit Cavs looking to end 3 game skid (and avoid getting traded)

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics travel to Cleveland for the second of 4 meetings with the Cavaliers.

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Boston Celtics (20-20) at Cleveland Cavaliers (10-32)
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
7:00 PM ET
Game #41, Road Game #20
TV: CSNNE, FSO, SNET1, LP 751(BOS)/752(CLE)
Radio: WTAM, WEEI
Quicken Loans Arena
Referees: Tom Washington, Courtney Kirkland, Kevin Scott

Game Thread l Chat

Boston Celtics Tickets


The Celtics travel to Cleveland for the second of 4 meetings with the Cavaliers. In spite of having just 10 wins, the Cavs are perfectly capable of playing spoiler and would love to hand the Celtics a loss. The Celtics won the first meeting in Boston 103-91 and I'm sure the Cavs would love to avenge that as well.

The Celtics are facing a fork in the road. Doc has called them out for their effort and for their lack of chemistry. This will be a chance for the Celtics to show that they want to stay together as a team and for the players to show that they want to remain Celtics. This is as close to a must win as you can get in the middle of the season.

The Celtics have lost 3 in a row after their 6 game win streak. The Cavs are trying to avoid a 2 game losing streak. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Cavs are just 3-7 in their last 10. The Celtics have struggled on the road with a 7-12 record away from the Garden. The Cavs are just 4-12 on their home court.

The big news this morning was that the Cavs traded Jon Leuer to the Grizzlies for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby. It was also reported that the Grizzlies would waive Jeremy Pargo to make room for the 3 new players. I'm going to include these changes in the lineup below, but as this is all just coming out, I'm not sure who's in and who's out and who will play.

It's doubtful that the 3 new Cavs players will play tonight, but stranger things have happened. As far as I know, the Celtics are still intact, in spite of Doc's threats after the loss in Detroit. The Celtics shouldn't let down their guard, thinking that the Cavs will be short handed. It wouldn't be the first time that a short handed team played like a wounded animal and surprised a much better team.

The Celtics have fallen back to .500. They are still in the 8th spot in the East by virtue of the Sixers losing even more then them. They are 1.5 games behind Milwaukee for the 7th spot and 3 games in front of Philly. The Celtics are 5.5 games behind New York for the Atlantic division lead. Doc made it clear. If players want to remain a Celtic they need to play team ball and win games, starting with this game.

Probable Starters

Rajon Rondo......Avery Bradley.......Paul Pierce......Brandon Bass ........Kevin Garnett


Celtics Reserves

Jared Sullinger

Jason Collins

Jason Terry

Jeff Green

Leandro Barbosa

Courtney Lee

Injuries

Avery Bradley (ribs) probable

Chris Wilcox (thumb) day to day


D-League

Fab Melo

Probable Starters

Kyrie Irving.....CJ Miles ....Alonzo Gee....Tristan Thompson.....Tyler Zeller

Cleveland Bench

Dion Waiters

Luke Walton

Shaun Livingston

Marreese Speights

Wayne Ellington

Josh Selby

InjuriesAnderson Varejao (leg) out

Key Matchups

vs

Rajon Rondo vs Kyrie Irving

The key matchup will be at the point guard spot, as is usually the case. Rondo is coming off a game in which he turned the ball over 9 times. He has to focus and take better care of the ball. While I expect Avery Bradley to be covering Irving most of the time, if his ribs are better, the ability of each point guard to direct the offense and set the pace will be key in this game.

vs

Kevin Garnett vs Tyler Zeller

Varejao is out for the rest of the season but Zeller is capable of giving the Celtics problems as well. In the first meeting between these two teams, Zeller made his first career start and torched the Celtics for 20 points. KG has to find his shot again and be more consistent on both ends of the court.

Honorable Mention

Brandon Bass vs Tristan Thompson

Brandon Bass has been very inconsistent on both offense and defense. He also hasn't been rebounding like the Celtics need him to. Thompson is averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds and the Celtics need more out of Bass at the power forward spot. If they don't get it, I expect Sully to get more time at this position.

Keys to the Game

Mental Toughness - Call it mental toughness or focus, the Celtics need to have it. The Celtics must keep their heads in the game. They have to come out strong and play until the final buzzer. They have to concentrate on making crisp passes instead of sloppy ones that turn the ball over. They need to be aggressive on both ends of the court and keep their focus, whether on defense, free throws, shot selection, effort, or just playing team ball. Doc called the team out for wanting to win easy. Hopefully the message got across.

Rebound - Rebounding is key to getting a win. When the Celtics put the effort in to crashing the boards and battling for rebounds, that effort also tends to show in other areas of the game as well. Even though they are at the bottom of the league in rebounding, they have shown that when they make the the effort to hustle for every rebound, things usually go well.

Defense - Defense is the key to every game. There have been times when the Celtics can lock down a team and keep them from getting any easy scores. There are also times when they allow tip ins and layups and second chance points over and over again. It goes back to that mental toughness thing. The Celtics can't lose their defensive mindset. They must lock in on defense from beginning to end.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have become a jump shooting team whose jump shots aren't falling. They need to be more aggressive going to the hoop, especially if the shots still aren't falling. They also have to be aggressive on defense, fighting for loose balls, rebounding, and bringing the ball up the floor. The team that is more aggressive usually wants the game more and will usually be the team that comes out on top.

X-Factors

Effort and Teamwork

After Doc called the team out and hinted that if they didn't get their act together as a team, there would be changes, we can only hope that they took it to heart and will come out with more effort in this game. They have to play as a team and find some measure of consistency from every player on the team. If they want to stay together as a team, they need to show it.

Official Report

Tom Washington

Over his 21-season NBA officiating career, Tom Washington has officiated 1,248 regular season games, 114 playoff games and three Finals games. He was a member of the crews that officiated the 1995 Schick Rookie Game, the 1996 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game. In addition to his 20 seasons with the NBA, Washington has two years of CBA officiating experience. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience in Division II and III, and five years of high school officiating experience in his hometown of Philadelphia, officiating in the playoffs for both the men’s and women’s league. Washington is a Cum Laude graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Norfolk State University.

The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Washington on the court. In a loss to the Pistons last season, Detroit shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics, Rondo was ejected, and Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game all season (are you cringing yet?). In Game 2 vs the Heat in last season's, the Heat shot 47 free throws to 29 for the Celtics, in spite of the Celtics attacking the basket all night. There were bad calls throughout the 4th quarter and OT. The missed call where Wade hit Rondo on the head leading to a Heat layup was one of the worst. Pierce, Pietrus, and Dooling all fouled out. LeBron was given 24 free throws all by himself. The loss this season was at Houston where the Celtics shot 17 free throws to 23 for the Rockets and the officiating wasn't bad. The win was vs the Bobcats in which the Celtics took 20 free throws to 24 for the Bobcats and the officiating was ok. The Cavs are 0-3 this season and 2-8 over their last 10 games with Washington on the court. His home W/L record this season is 18-16.

Courtney Kirkland

Over the past 12 seasons, Courtney Kirkland has officiated 725 regular season games and 11 playoff games. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, including the 2000 WNBA Championship and the 1999 Conference Finals. Kirkland also officiated the 2010 and 2011 Venezuelan LPB basketball championships. Prior to joining the NBA, Kirkland also worked three seasons in the CBA where he officiated the 1999 and 2000 CBA Finals as well as the 2000 CBA All-Star Game. He was a high school official for four years as a member of the Baton Rouge (La.) Basketball Officials Association and was named Rookie Official of the Year in 1994. Kirkland earned a degree in Computer Science from Southern University. He was a member of the Northwestern High School basketball team that made it to the state semifinals in 1991 and 1992. Kirkland received the school’s Academic award, and led the team in assists, free throw and three-point shooting percentage.

Kirkland earned some measure of notoriety when he jumped in to block a Kris Humphries free throw in a recent Nets game. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 10-0 in their last 10 games that Kirkland officiated. He officiated 2 Celtics games last season and both were called evenly as were the first two he called this season. The 3rd game was against the Pacers in which the Celtics shot 18 free throws to 28 for the Pacers. They called a flagrant 2 on KG which was later downgraded. The Cavs are 1-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Kirkland. His home W/L record this season is 20-13.

Kevin Scott

Kevin Scott enters his second NBA season having officiated 28 regular season games. Scott’s experience includes four seasons and 138 games officiated in the NBA DLeague where he officiated the playoffs in 2009, 2010, 2011 and was selected to work the NBA DLeague Finals in 2011. Scott’s collegiate experience includes four years in the Southeastern Conference, 10 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, six years in the Southern Conference, and seven years in the Big South Conference. He was also one of the replacement officials during the referee lockout in 2009. He may be remembered for ejecting Bobcats'coach Larry Brown from an exhibition game that season and then calling security to escort him from the court when he didn't leave quickly enough for Scott. Brown was fined $60,000 for verbally abusing Scott.

This will be Scott's fourth career game for the Celtics and the Celtics are 3-0 with Scott in his career. The first was a win over NJ where the Nets shot 28 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. The second was against the Bobcats where the Celtics shot 45 free throws to 35 for Charlotte and every play seemed to result in a foul. The third was vs the Wizards where the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 7 for the Wizards and the Celtics seemed to get the benefit of a lot of close calls. The Cavs are 0-3 with Scott over his career. His home W/L record this season is 17-8.


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