Celtics back (to back) on the court as they try to end 4 game losing streak

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

And, it gets worse as the Celtics face the West leading Spurs in the second of back to back games.

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Boston Celtics (4-8) at San Antonio Spurs (9-1)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
8:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #13 Road Game #8
TV: CSN-NE, FSSW, League Pass 764(DTV), 759(xfinity)
Radio: WOAI, WBZ, 98.5 The Sports Hub
AT&T Center
Referees: Ed Malloy, Mark Ayotte, David Guthrie


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The Celtics won't have much time to think about last night's loss to the Houston Rockets as they have to move right back into the fight with a game against the West leading Spurs.

The Spurs 9-1 record may be a bit misleading in that all 9 victories were against teams with sub .500 records. They should be well rested for this game as they have had off since Friday, while the Celtics are playing in back to back games and the 3rd game on a tough road trip.

The Spurs are seeking an eighth straight win while the Celtics are looking to end a 4 game losing streak. The Spurs are 4-0 at home and the Celtics are 2-3 on the road. The Spurs swept the series last season and have won 3 straight against the Celtics.

I went with the same starting lineup as the Houston game, but after the poor start that the Celtics had against the Rockets, I wouldn't be surprised to see a shake up in the starting lineup, even if just at center.

PG SG SF PF C

Probable Starters

PG: Jordan Crawford

SG: Avery Bradley

SF: Jeff Green

PF: Brandon Bass

C: Vitor Faverani


Celtics Reserves

MarShon Brooks

Kris Humphries

Kelly Olynyk

Phil Pressey

Courtney Lee

Keith Bogans

Gerald Wallace

Jared Sullinger

Injuries

Rajon Rondo (ACL)out

PG SG SF PF C

PG: Tony Parker

SG: Danny Green

SF: Kawhi Leonard

PF: Tim Duncan

C: Tiago Splitter

Spurs Reserves

Manu Ginobili

Marco Belinelli

Jeff Ayres

Boris Diaw

Patrick Mills

Cory Joseph

Aron Baynes

Nando DeColo

Injuries

Matt Bonner (calf) questionable

Key Matchups

vs

Jordan Crawford vs Tony Parker

Tony Parker is a scoring point guard who is going to give Jordan Crawford a tough time. I expect to see Avery Bradley guarding Parker if he gets hot in this game. At the same time, Parker's defense will make things difficult for Crawford.

vs

Brandon Bass vs Tim Duncan

Brandon will have his hands full in this matchup. Duncan may have lost a step, but he still brings a lot to the table, especially defensively. He is great at getting position for rebounds and tip ins and Bass and the other Celtics bigs need to concentrate on keeping him away from the basket.

Keys to the Game

Get the Offense on Track- The Celtics shot a season worst 32.3 percent against the Rockets. They missed many open shots and quite a few around the basket. Now they face a Spurs team that ranks third in the league in defense, giving up just 89.3 points a game. The Celtics have got to find a way to make their shots.

Start Strong and Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics stayed with the Rockets in the final 3 quarters, but unfortunately, the damage was already done by a sluggish start and they were never able to recover. They have to find some consistency where they can start strong and play well for 4 quarters.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics need to do both if they hope to beat a tough Spurs team and they will need to crash the boards to prevent second chance and fast break points from the Spurs.

Be Aggressive - During the 4 game win streak, the Celtics were aggressive in going after loose balls, taking the ball to the hoop and playing in your face defense. When they get lazy and allow teams to beat them to loose balls and rebounds and when they settle for jumpers and don't go to the basket, they are very beatable. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settling for jumpers. They must be aggressive from the opening tip to the final buzzer.


Run, Run, Run
- The Celtics are not a half court team and they look terrible when they try to play that way. They have to run in order to get easy opportunities before the defenses set up. Too often in this losing streak they have settled for walking the ball up the court and playing a half court game. They need to run on every possession.


X-Factors

Fatigue and Mental Focus

The Celtics have had a very tough stretch this month and have to be tired. Can they shake off the fatigue and continue to play hard? Can they keep their mental focus and not let the losing streak get in their heads?


Official Report

Ed Malloy

Malloy has officiated 698 regular season NBA games, 32 playoff games and four NBA Finals games, over the past 11 seasons. 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 NBA D-League Finals and the 2001 CBA Finals.

Malloy attended St. Joseph’s University before transferring to Philadelphia University, where he was a member of the basketball team and named the ECAC Player of the Year in 1993, and went on to earn a degree in Marketing. While in high school at Cardinal O’Hara, he was named the 1989 Most Outstanding Player in Philadelphia for his achievements on the basketball court.

In 2003, when Doc Rivers 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 3 seasons ago 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 officiated game 1 of the Heat series in 2011. In that game, after ignoring a flagrant foul by James Jones and then a second flagrant foul by Dwyane Wade, Malloy ejected Pierce for technicals when he objected to both flagrants against him in less than a minute. Two seasons ago he called game 2 vs the Hawks in the playoffs. The Celtics shot 31 free throws in that game vs 20 for the Hawks and got the benefit of most close calls. He also called game 5 in the Philly series in which the Celtics shot 33 free throws to 16 for the Sixers and again the Celtics got the benefit of close calls.

The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The first regular season game last season, after a loss to Brooklyn in the preseason, was the win over the Lakers at home where the Celtics shot 25 free throws to 30 for the Lakers and the officiating wasn't all that bad. The second game was the loss on the road to the Bobcats where the Celtics took 25 free throws to 30 for the Bobcats and the officiating was ok. Another game last season was the loss at Dallas where the Mavericks took 28 free throws to 27 for the Celtics and the officiating was okay. The most recent regular season loss was to the Raptors where Toronto took 28 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and there were more than a few questionable calls against the Celtics. He can be good and he can be very very bad on any given night. He also called game 6 of the Knicks series in last season's playoffs. The Celtics took 33 free throws to 16 for the Knicks and got the benefit of a few questionable calls.

The win this season was over the Magic where Orlando took 23 free throws to 15 for the Celtics but the officiating was good and they pretty much let them play. The Spurs are 8-2 over their last 10 games with Malloy. He isn't necessarily influenced by the home crowd. His home W/L record is 3-4.

Mark Ayotte

Mark Ayotte completed his ninth NBA season having officiated 532 regular season games. Prior to joining the NBA, Ayotte was a WNBA official for four years and a CBA official for three years. He spent one year officiating in the NBA D-League.

Ayotte has 12 years of collegiate officiating experience, having worked in the Pac-10, Big Sky and West Coast conferences. He officiated in the Pac-10 Conference Tournament and the Big Sky Conference Tournament, including the finals. Ayotte also was an official for the preseason and postseason NIT.

He has 10 years of high school officiating experience in the state of Arizona. Prior to becoming a professional basketball referee, Ayotte worked as a Systems Design and Test Engineer with AG Communication Systems. When not on the hardwood, Ayotte enjoys spending time with his fellow Yoopers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Celtics are 1-0 and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Ayotte. Last season, he called a win over the Nets in the preseason and a loss at Detroit and the officiating was ok in both. He also called the loss to the Lakers in LA where they took 31 free throws to 20 for the Celtics and most of the questionable fouls went LA's way. He called the win over Orlando this season along with Malloy. The Spurs are 7-3 over their last 10 with Ayotte. Ayotte was one of the refs in the Mavs/OKC game last season in which Marc Cuban was fined $75,000 for criticizing the referees as among the worst he has seen. Ayotte has a home W/L record this season is 4-3.

David Guthrie

David Guthrie enters his ninth season after officiating 447 regular season games and six playoff games. Prior to joining the NBA, Guthrie was an official in the CBA, NBA Development League and the New York City Pro Am. He participated in the D-League playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the DLeague championship games in 2004 and 2005. He officiated at the collegiate level in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, Southern, OVC, ASUN, Big South and SWAC conferences and participated in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments.

Outside of his life in basketball, Guthrie was a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization playing professionally with the team in Princeton, W. Va., Billings, Mont., Charleston, W.Va. and Chattanooga, Tenn. He attended both Southern Union Community College in Wadley, Ala. and North Carolina State University on baseball scholarships. He played in the Cape Cod Wooden Bat College Summer League for the Falmouth Commodores in 1994 and played baseball and basketball at W.Va. Berry High School in Birmingham, Ala.

The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Guthrie. The Spurs are are 5-5 in their last 10. He called just one game for the Celtics two seasons ago, a 94-82 win over the Bobcats in which the Bobcats took 20 free throws and the Celtics 17. The refs did a good job of staying out of the way, which is what you want from an official. One win last season was vs the Wizards in which they took 17 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and again, the refs let them play. The second win last season was the home win over the Suns. The Celtics shot 12 free throws to 18 for the Suns and again, the refs let them play. And the 3rd win was at Phoenix where both teams shot 23 free throws and the officiating was good. One loss was at Charlotte and the Bobcats shot 30 free throws to 25 for the Celtics but the referees weren't a factor in the loss. The other loss last season was a 105-103 loss to the Heat and amazingly the officiating in that game was fairly even. His home W/L record this season is 6-2.



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