Celtics look to add to their 5 game win streak as they host the Lakers

Jeff Gross

The Lakers make their only trip to Boston as these two rivals both teams are boasting winning streaks in spite of struggling with injuries to key players.

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Los Angeles Lakers (23-26) at Boston Celtics (25-23)
Thursday, February 5, 2013
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #49, Home Game #27
TV: TNT, TSN
Radio: WEEI, KSPN, ESPNR, WMFS
TD Garden
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Nick Buchert, Ed Malloy


Game Thread l Chat


Boston Celtics Tickets


The Lakers make their only trip to Boston as these two rivals both teams are boasting winning streaks in spite of struggling with injuries to key players. When the schedule comes out, there are certain games that players and fans look for and circle. Lakers games are the first I look for always. There is no question that this is a rivalry. There is no love lost between these two franchises or their fans.

Last season, when both teams were fairing somewhat better, the Lakers won the series 2-0. Both games were close with the Lakers winning 88-87 in overtime in Boston and 97-94 in LA. This is their first meeting this season and the Celtics will pay a visit to the Staples Center later this month on February 20.

Dwight Howard has been in and out with a shoulder injury. He missed the game on Tuesday in New Jersey and is listed as day to day for this game. After the Nets game, Kobe called Howard out and told him to suck it up and play. Robert Sacre is listed as the starting center so it appears that Dwight won't be following Kobe's suggestion. Pau Gasol, who started at center on Tuesday, left the game in the 4th quarter with a torn plantar fascia and will be out for this game. If Dwight ignores Kobe's challenge to suck it up and sits this one out, I expect Robert Sacre to start at center. Kobe has also had some problems with an elbow injury but has been playing through it.

The Celtics have also been struggling to overcome injuries and so far have done an exceptional job of it by winning their last 5 in a row without Rajon Rondo and the last 4 without Jared Sullinger. Every player has stepped up in each of those games and hopefully they will continue to do so in this one.

The Celtics are playing in back to back games and had to travel from Toronto and so could be tired. The Lakers had a day of rest going into this game. I'm pretty certain that this wasn't a coincidence. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 17-9 at home. The Lakers ar 6-4 in their last 10 and 8-16 on the road. The Celtics are riding a 5 game win streak while the Lakers have won their last 3.

Some of the luster may have come off of this rivalry with both teams struggling, but it is still Lakers vs Celtics, and it is still one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. There shouldn't be any lack of motivation in this game for either team. When these two teams meet up, there's just one thing to say, and that is Beat LA!!!

Probable Starters

Point Guard: Avery Bradley ---------------- Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee

Center: Kevin Garnett

Small Forward: Paul Pierce ------------------ Power Forward: Brandon Bass

Jason Terry

Jason Collins

Chris Wilcox

Jeff Green

Leandro Barbosa

Fab Melo

Injuries:

Rajon Rondo (knee) out

Jared Sullinger (back) out

Probable Starters

Point Guard: Steve Nash -------------------- Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

Center: Robert Sacre

Small Forward: Ron Artest -------------------- Power Forward: Earl Clark

Steve Blake

Jodie Meeks

Chris Duhon

Devin Ebanks

Darius Morris

Injuries

Pau Gasol (foot) out

Dwight Howard (shoulder) questionable

Jordan Hill (hip) out

Key Matchups

vs

Courtney Lee vs Kobe Bryant

Kobe has had some problems with his elbow, but that won't stop him from playing and from putting up big numbers. Against the Nets on Tuesday, Kobe finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. He had to shoot 24 shots though to get 21 points. One thing is for certain, Kobe will keep shooting, whether he is hitting or not. CLee has to harass him enough to make him miss more than he makes.

vs

Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest

Artest isn't the defender he used to be but still can play decent defense when the mood hits him. He has, however resorted to dirty plays more and more. He missed the last game vs the Nets because he was suspended for grabbing Brandon Knight around the neck and hitting him in the jaw. Who can forget Artest pulling down the Captain's shorts in a game to gain an advantage?


The Captain has been playing very well and hopefully he can continue to play well and get into Artest's head (which can be a very scary place) and get the best of this matchup. (For the record, I refuse to call him World Peace because that is simply ridiculous given his violent nature.)

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Steve Nash

Steve Nash can score and can set up his teammates, but he has never been known for his speed or his defense. With Avery's speed, he should be able to beat Nash and get to the hoop. He should also be able to keep Nash from putting up big numbers.

Keys to the Game

Defense - Defense is the key to winning this game and to winning Banner 18. The Celtics have been winning with their defense and they need to continue that tough lock down defense, especially in this game if they want to get the win. They have to defend both the perimeter and the paint as the Lakers are capable of hitting the long ball as well as getting to the hoop to score.


Rebound
- Rebounding is also key to winning. The Celtics miss Sully's presence on the boards, but they have been rebounding as a team and that has helped. They need to crash the boards and aggressively go after every rebound to prevent second chance points and easy put backs along with fast break points for the Lakers.

Effort and Focus - There should be no lack of motivation for this game. Although many of the players on both sides are new to this rivalry, many have a sense of the history between these two clubs. There is no excuse for anything less than full out effort and focus in this game. The Celtics must be the more aggressive team in every area of this game.

Push the Ball - The Celtics have found success in pushing the ball up the court quickly before the defense can get set. They need to continue to do this and to advance the ball with the pass rather than walking it up. Ball movement will be key.

X-Factors

Home Court, Fatigue, and the Officials

The Celtics have the home crowd behind them and they need to let that give them a boost in this game.

The Celtics are playing in back to back games along with having to travel and go through Customs while the Lakers have been resting in Boston for a day. David Stern sure knows how to stack the schedule against a team. Hopefully the Celtics can overcome the fatigue of travel and playing the night before. The reserves will need to produce to allow the starters to rest and have something left at the end of the game.

We know that the officials can make a difference in a game (see 2010 Finals Game 7) and hopefully in this game the officials will let them play and not try to influence the outcome.

Official Report

Monty McCutchen

Monty McCutchen has officiated 1,138 regular season, 94 playoff, and six Finals games. He worked the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas and was a member of the crews that officiated the 1996 and 1997 Mexico Challenges, as well as the 1998 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, McCutchen spent four seasons in the CBA, where he worked the All Star game his second year and the playoffs all four years. He also officiated the CBA Finals the last three years he was with the league. McCutchen missed the 1998-99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

He is a former elementary and middle school teacher and is fondly remembered by his students as a really nice guy. In searching for information on him, I found a Cavs' blog that blamed a loss to the Celtics on the officiating of Monty McCutchen. That was the game where Mike Brown was ejected and the Cavs made a furious comeback but fell short. In game 2 of the WCF, McCutchen flipped out on someone and yelled "I'm running this game not you!" as Serge Ibaka went to the line for free throws. Other than that, there's not a lot of controversy about him.

The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 1-3 this season with McCutchen on the court. He officiated the Heat game to open the season. Needless to say, he allowed Wade and Battier to grab and shove off and foul all game, which led to Rondo's flagrant on Wade out of frustration. He also called a preseason loss to the Knicks and a win over the Wizards where the Celtics took 34 free throws to 7 by the Wizards. His last game with the Celtics was the 103-88 loss to the Pistons where the Celtics took 25 free throws to 31 for the Pistons, but the officiating wasn't particularly bad. The Lakers are1-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with McCutchen. The Lakers took 65 free throws to 51 for their opponents in the two games this season. His home W/L record this season is 28-9.

Nick Buchert

Nick Buchert enters his third NBA season having officiated 111 games. Buchert owns nine years of collegiate officiating experience. Additionally, he has officiated the 2010 NBA D-League Finals and 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game.

He has only officiated 6 Celtics games in his career with a 5-1 record. This is his first game with the Celtics this season. He can be inconsistent in his calls, letting contact go in one game and calling it tight in the next. The Lakers are 5-2 in the 7 games that have been officiated by Buchert over his career. His home W/L record this season is 22-7.


Ed Malloy

Malloy has officiated 629 regular season NBA games and 32 playoff games, including three Finals games, over the past 10 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. Ed Malloy joins Tim Donaghy, Duke Callahan and Joe Crawford as referees who graduated from Cardinal O'hara HS in Philly.

In 2003, when Doc 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 two 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. Last season he called game 2 vs the Hawks in the playoffs. The Celtics shot 31 free throws in that game vs 20 for the Hawks. He also called game 5 in the Philly series in which the Celtics shot 33 free throws to 16 for the Sixers. This is Malloy's first game with the Celtics this season. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The Lakers are are 1-2 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Malloy as a ref. His home W/L record is 21-18.

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