Celtics host Wolves looking for 2nd straight win

Jared Wickerham

The Timberwolves make their only visit to TD Garden tonight looking to win the series for the first time since 1999-2000.

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Minnesota Timberwolves (12-12) at Boston Celtics (11-14)
Monday, December 16, 2013
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #26, Home Game #13
TV: NBA-TV, CSNNE, FSNorth, NBA-TV Canada
Radio: WBZ, WCCO-AM
TD Garden
Referees: Bill Kennedy, Eddie F Rush, Sean Wright

Game Thread
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The Timberwolves make their only visit to TD Garden tonight, leading the series 1-0. They beat the Celtics in Minnesota 106-88 in their first regular season game and they also beat the Celtics in a game in Canada in the preseason.

The Wolves played in Memphis on Sunday night, winning 101-93. They come into this game looking for their second straight win. The Wolves could be fatigued, playing in back to back games and having to travel overnight. The Celtics should be rested, last playing on Friday when they beat the Knicks at home. The Celtics are also looking for their second straight win.

The Wolves are just 4-8 on the road while the Celtics are 6-6 at home. The Wolves have dropped their last seven visits to Boston, dating back to a 99-97 victory on Mar. 6, 2005. The Wolves are seeking their first season series sweep since 1999-2000. The Celtics have struggled against Western Conference opponents, going 2-7, with their only wins against Denver and Utah.




Probable Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Jordan Crawford...Avery Bradley...Jeff Green...Brandon Bass...Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves

MarShon Brooks
Kelly Olynyk
Kris Humphries
Vitor Faverani
Phil Pressey
Courtney Lee
Keith Bogans
Gerald Wallace

Injuries
Rajon Rondo (ACL)out
Kris Humphries (probable)



Probable Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Ricky Rubio...Kevin Martin...Corey Brewer...Kevin Love...Nikola Pekovic

Timberwolves Reserves

JJ Barea
Dante Cunningham
Robbie Hummel
Gorgui Dieng
AJ Price
Alexey Shved
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Shabazz Muhammad

Injuries

Chase Budinger (knee) out
Ronny Turiaf (elbow) out

Key Matchups
vs
Brandon Bass vs Kevin Love
Kevin Love is a tough cover for anyone and is a 20-20 threat on any given night. He scored 30 points and pulled down 9 rebounds in their win over the Grizzlies on Sunday. He scored 23 points in the game in their first regular season meeting. Brandon Bass has been praised for his defense this season and he will have a challenge in this one trying to slow down Love.

vs
Jared Sullinger vs Nikola Pekovic
Pekovic is a strong and athletic big man and Jared is going to need to defend as well as to make him work on the defensive end. Pekovic scored 20 in their first meeting. We may see Faverani guarding Pekovic if he starts to have a big game.

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Kevin Martin
Martin is capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry but Avery will make him work for his points in this game. He scored 20 points in the first game earlier in the season. Also, Martin isn't known for his defense so Avery may have a big game. Bradley scored 27 in their first meeting. Martin is Minnesota's second-leading scorer at 20.6 points per game but has been in somewhat of a slump, totaling only 19 points over his last three games on 5-for-24 shooting. He has also struggled against the Celtics, shooting only 15-47 and averaging just 11.5 points in his last 4 against Boston.

Keys to the Game
Defense
- The Celtics must defend. The offense feeds off of the defense and if the Celtics can't get stops they struggle on the other end as well. The Wolves have players who can hit the outside shot and so the Celtics have to guard the perimeter but they also have players who can get inside so they also have to protect the paint. The Celtics perimeter defense will particularly be tested tonight as the Wolves have been shooting 44.1% from beyond the arc over their last 4 games.

Rebound
- The Celtics must get rebounds to prevent second chance points and fast breaks. Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics have got to show both and crash the boards as a team. Pekovic and Love are very good rebounders and the Celtics must box them out and fight for rebounds.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds and in taking the ball to the basket. They also have to be aggressive on defense. When they are aggressive in going to the hoop good things happen. The Celtics have to play like they want it more.

Set the Pace- The Celtics must run from the beginning of the game until the final buzzer. Running will allow them to get easy baskets as they get down the court before the defenses set up.

X-Factors
Home and Energy
The Celtics are at home and should get a boost from the home crowd and having had 2 days off prior to this game. The Wolves are on the road and played on Sunday night in Memphis and had to travel overnight which could mean less energy for them.

Official Report

Bill Kennedy
Bill Kennedy’s 15 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 924 regular season, 54 playoff and five NBA Final 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 1-0 this season and 8-2 with Kennedy in their last 10 games. They were 4-0 with Kennedy as an official last season. In all 4 games last season, the officiating wasn't bad. In a win over the Pacers two seasons ago, 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. The flagrant was later downgraded, which shows it was a bad call after all. The win this season was over the Cavs where the Celtics shot 26 free throws to 27 for the Cavs and the officiating was good. As with many of the refs, Kennedy can be very good or very bad depending on his mood. The Wolves are 2-8 in their last 10 games with Kennedy. His home W/L record this season is 12-8.

Eddie F Rush
In addition to being a member of the NBA officiating staff for the past 26 seasons, Eddie F. Rush has also been a FIBA official for 12 years. While with the NBA, he has officiated 1,550 regular season and 206 playoff games, including
13 NBA Finals games. Rush was also a member of the crews that officiated the 1994 Japan Games in Yokohama, and the 2000 and 2008 NBA All-Star Games. He also officiated in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Rush has four years of officiating experience in the CBA, where he worked playoff and finals games. Prior to that, he spent four years officiating at the collegiate level, working in both the Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conferences. Rush also has four years of high school officiating experience in Georgia.

Rush holds a B.B.A. in Marketing from Georgia State University, where he played basketball for two seasons. Rush transferred to Georgia State from Florida A&M, where he was a member of the track team and the 1980 MEAC Mile Relay Champions, and was named Most Promising Athlete. He also was a member of both the track and basketball teams at W.H. Spencer High School in Georgia, where he was the basketball Regional Tournament MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year. Eddie F. Rush officiated the last game of the NBA Finals for five seasons in a row (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009). He was the least liked ref by Cavs fans when they still had LeBron because he was the only ref that called more losses for them than wins.

He is also one of Tommy Heinsohn's least favorite refs and there are several rants on file of Tommy complaining about Rush's ineptness. Whenever Tommy gets on the subject of bad refs, Eddie F Rush is sure to come up. This is the Celtics' first game this season with Rush. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games. He called just one game for the Celtics last season, an OT win over Denver in which the Celtics took 24 free throws to 17 for the Nuggets and the officiating wasn't bad. In a loss to Chicago two seasons ago, the refs allowed the Celtics to get hacked and fouled all night with no calls. The Bulls shot 28 free throws to 18 for the Celtics. The Bulls shot 9 free throws before the Celtics shot 1. In the last game he called for the Celtics that season, a win over the Pacers, the officiating was again terrible. After a series of obviously terrible calls against the Celtics Tommy went off and said, "Eddie F Rush is at it again. More games disintegrate because of this guy. They should ban him from officiating." It wasn't just Tommy who saw his bias. Here's a comment from the Pacers forum: "If the Celtics punched these refs out, I wouldn't blame them." Rush is just a bad official and he seems to always have it in for the Celtics as well. The Wolves are 0-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Rush. His home W/L record this season is 7-5.

Sean Wright

Sean Wright has officiated 469 regular season and nine playoff games in his eight seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, Wright was an official in the NBA Development League, where he participated in the playoffs in 2003-04 and the championship game in 2005. Wright’s collegiate officiating experience includes working in the SEC, Colonial, Big South, Southern, Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. He participated in the Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2003 and the Men’s NCAA Division II tournament in 2004. He officiated the Eduardo Najera Foundation charity basketball game in 2006 and the Terrell Owens Foundation charity basketball game in 2005.

The Celtics were 0-6 last season and 2-8 in their last 10 with Wright on the court. One win two seasons ago was against the Bobcats where they shot a total of 80 free throws between them and they called every little foul all night but called them on both teams. He also called the loss vs Detroit that season where the Pistons took 46 free throws to just 15 for the Celtics and Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game of the season. It was Sean Wright that Rondo threw the ball at resulting in his ejection and suspension (which apparently was only suspendable for Rondo since Noah also threw the ball at a ref and got no suspension).

And last season, Wright was one of the refs in the Celtics opener against the Heat where once again Rondo was called for a flagrant and a technical after he was completely frustrated by the failure of the refs to call multiple fouls by Wade and Battier against him. In the second game with Wright last season, a loss to Philly, Tommy called him an idiot after one particularly bad call. The third loss last season was against Milwaukee where the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 36 for the Bucks and the officiating was once again terrible with most of the questionable calls going against the Celtics including their failure to call a foul when Ilyasova elbowed Green in the head, injuring Green. They then refused to call a foul when the Celtics tried to intentionally foul to stop the clock and with Wright staring at the play. The 4th loss was to the Kings where the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 25 for the Kings but the officiating wasn't bad in that one. Another loss was to the Knicks where NY shot 18 free throws to 22 for the Celtics and the officiating again was okay. The final loss last season was to the Heat where Miami shot 28 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and the officiating was very one sided in Miami's favor. The Celtics are 0-1 this season, losing a 1 point game to the Knicks in the preseason in which the Celtics took 14 free throws to 22 for the Knicks. There were a few bad calls both ways, but the officiating wasn't particularly one sided. The Wolves are 1-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Wright. His home W/L record this season is 14-5.

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