Boston Celtics (28-26) at Phoenix Suns (18-37)
Friday, February 22
9:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #55, Road Game #26
TV: CSNNE, FSA, NBA-LP 765(BOS)/766(PHX)
Radio: WEEI, KTAR
US Airways Center
Referees: Joey Crawford, Curtis Blair, David Guthrie
Game Thread l Chat
Boston Celtics Tickets
The Celtics move on to Phoenix, still looking for their first win on this 5 game road trip. This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics won 88-71 in Boston, but that was before injuries created havoc with their roster.
The Suns are better at home than they are on the road, but they are still under .500 at home with a 12-13 record. The Celtics have struggled on the road and are just 8-17 away from the Garden. The Celtics are 7-10 in their last 10 games are are looking to avoid a 3 game losing streak on the trip. The Suns are 3-7 in their last 10 games looking to avoid their second straight loss.
With the trading deadline in the rear mirror, this core group has another opportunity to win another ring. They need to regroup and pull together and try to make it happen. Terrence Williams has had more opportunity to learn a few of the plays. Doc has said that Crawford should be on the court tonight. He was at the shoot around with the Celtics today.
Probable Starting Lineup
PG: Avery Bradley
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
Jared Sullinger (back) out
Rajon Rondo (knee) out
Probable Starting Lineup
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: PJ Tucker
SF: Jared Dudley
PF: Luis Scola
Channing Frye (heart) out
Brandon Bass vs Luis Scola
Scola is averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists this season. In the first meeting between these two teams, Scola was the Suns high scorer with 16 points. He is capable of putting up big numbers and Bass must stick with him on defense to prevent him from having another big game. It would also help if Bass can develop more consistency and get back to the way he played last season.
Kevin Garnett vs Marcin Gortat
Gortat is averaging 11.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists this season. In the first meeting between these two teams Gortat exceeded his season averages with 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks. With the Celtics being even more short handed up front, this matchup becomes even more key. It will be up to KG to keep him out of the paint.
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Celtics' starters scored a total of 40 points while the bench pitched in 47. Since then, the Celtics bench has been depleted. Jared Sullinger came up big in that game with 16 rebounds and he will be very much missed. Also no Barbosa, and Lee off the bench this time. Terrence Williams has just a few minutes playing time with the team. Crawford may or may not be able to play. Only Chris Wilcox is left to back up both KG and Bass. The remaining bench players must step up for the Celtics to win this one.
Keys to the Game
Defense - This is the key to every win this season and to a championship as well. We have seen the Celtics defense that we have come to know and love in the recent win streak. But we have also seen games where the defense just isn't there as in the Lakers game. Playing defense like that takes energy and teamwork and hopefully the Celtics will continue to play with that type of intensity on the defensive end.
Ball Movement - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man in order to stretch the Suns weak defenses. They also need to try to get the ball into the paint and not just settle for jumpers. If they get the ball into the post they will be able to score, draw the foul or kick out for an open jumper. When the ball moves, the Celtics are much harder to guard.
Crash the Boards - The Celtics must make an effort to grab rebounds, especially on the offensive end. By grabbing offensive rebounds it will prevent the Suns from getting out on the break. Rebounding is mostly desire and effort and the team that wants it most will win the rebounding battle. With the lack of size on the team, every Celtic must make an extra effort to grab rebounds.
Road, Players, Officials
1. The Celtics have struggled on the road this season. They are just 8-17 away from the Garden. They have also lost the first two games on the trip and hopefully can get back on track and get a win in this one.
2. The Celtics are short handed. They have just Chris Wilcox left to back up both KG and Bass. They have 2 new players who are limited in their knowledge of the system.
3. The first two games on this road trip resulted in a big free throw disparity. The Nuggets shot 20 more free throws than the Celtics. The Lakers shot 11 more free throws than the Celtics but at one point it was 22 for the Lakers to 4 for the Celtics. Hopefully the Celtics can get a fair shake from the officials in this one. With Joey Crawford on the job, who knows.
Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,449 regular season and 293 playoff games, including 47 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s playoff and NBA Finals totals are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford officiated in the Eastern League (CBA) from 1974-76. He graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. and is a member of the Cardinal O’Hara High School Hall of Fame. In 2008, Crawford earned a degree in Liberal studies from Neumann College. Officiating can be considered a Crawford "family affair," as his brother is veteran Major League Baseball umpire Jerry Crawford, and his father is retired Major League Baseball umpire Shag Crawford. Crawford is also very active in his hometown community of Philadelphia.
There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well.
He is widely viewed as one of the refs in the NBA who can officiate with an agenda and shows his biases on the court, hence the controversy that seems to follow him throughout his career. The Celtics played 9 games with Crawford officiating last season the last of which was game 7 vs Miami in the ECF. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 with Crawford and 3-2 this season. He called the 89-86 win over the Wizards in which the Wizards shot 17 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and the refs pretty much let them play. He also called the 101-95 win over Chicago where the Bulls shot 31 free throws to 16 for the Celtics and there were more than a few questionable calls. The 3rd game this season was the OT win over the Mavs in which the Celtics shot 30 free throws to 17 for the Celtics and the calls seemed to favor the Celtics for the most part. One loss this season was against the Grizzlies in which Memphis took 22 free throws to 16 for the Celtics but the officiating was good for the most part. The second loss was to the Knicks where the Celtics shot 28 free throws to 20 for the Knicks. The officiating was ok. The Suns are 4-6 in their last 10 with Crawford and 1-0 this season. His home W/L record this season is 19-21 and he doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd. In fact, at times he seems to delight in antagonizing the home fans.
Here is Joey at his best - Making the game all about himself:
Curtis Blair is entering his fifth NBA season having officiated 210 regular season games. Blair has six seasons of NBA D-League experience and worked the 2008 NBA D-League Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast Conference and the CAA. Blair graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Richmond in 1992 where he was a member of the 1991 Men’s basketball team that upset Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1992 and played professionally in Australia, Austria and Turkey.
Celtics are 0-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Blair as an official. He called the Lakers game last season in which LA shot 26 free throws to 12 for the Celtics and the officiating was one sided against the Celtics. He called an OT loss to Philadelphia this season in which the Celtics shot 25 free throws to 26 for the Sixers and the officiating was okay. The Suns are 0-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Blair. His home W/L record this season is 23-15.
David Guthrie enters his eighth season after officiating 384 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 2-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Guthrie. The Suns are 0-4 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. He called just one game for the Celtics last season, 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 this 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 this 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. His home W/L record this season is 26-16.