Celtics look to get back on track against visiting Raptors

USA TODAY Sports

After failing to show up against the Bobcats, the Celtics will host the Raptors and hope to get back on track.

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Toronto Raptors (25-39) at Boston Celtics (34-29)
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #64, Home Game #32
TV: CSNNE, RSN, NBA-LP 755
Radio: CJCL, WEEI
TD Garden
Referees: Ken Mauer, Marat Kogut, Michael Smith

This is the third regular season meeting between these two Atlantic Division teams with the Celtics leading the series 2-0. They will meet one more time on the final day of the regular season. After losing by 26 points to the Bobcats, the Celtics need to redeem themselves with a win in this one.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Raptors are well rested, having been off since Sunday. The Raptors have played better since the trade that brought Rudy Gay to Toronto, but they have also been struggling with injuries. Starters Gay and Bargnani missed their last game and Gay is listed as questionable while Bargnani is listed as out for this one.

Every game becomes important for the Celtics as they are battling for playoff positioning, which makes last night's complete lack of effort totally unfathomable. . The Raptors are in the unenviable 9th spot in the East, 8.5 games out of playoff contention. They won't make the playoffs and without some serious tanking, they won't get a great draft pick either.

The Celtics were completely embarrassed by losing to the Bobcats by 26 on Tuesday night. They showed no effort against a team that they should have easily beaten,even without Paul Pierce. They are still in the 6th spot because Atlanta has also lost their last 2. They have fallen a full game behind Chicago in 5th and 3 games behind 4th. They also remain 1.5 games ahead of Milwaukee, who also lost. A win against the Bobcats could have given them some breathing room in 6th place but their lack of effort kept them from capitalizing on losses by both Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Both KG and Paul Pierce could reach milestones in this game. Kevin Garnett, who has scored 25,189 points, needs just 3 more points to pass Jerry West for 15th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Paul Pierce has 23,748 points is on the verge of another milestone as well. He's only 10 points away from moving ahead of Charles Barkley for the 20th spot on that same list. It would be special for both players to achieve a milestone in the same game.

The Celtics need to take the Raptors seriously. The Matchup Edge shows that Toronto has the edge in every category except FG% and defense. It won't be a cakewalk by any stretch and so if the Celtics don't give more effort than they did against Charlotte, this game could end even worse.


Probable Starters

PGSGSFPFC

PG: Avery Bradley

SG: Courtney Lee

SF: Paul Pierce

PF: Brandon Bass

C: Kevin Garnett

Celtics Reserves

Jason Terry

Chris Wilcox

Jeff Green

Jordan Crawford

Terrence Williams

DJ White

Shavlik Randolph

Injuries

Rajon Rondo (knee) out

Jared Sullinger (back) out

Red Claws

Fab Melo

Probable Starters

PGSG SF PFC

PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: DeMar DeRozan

SF: Terrence Ross

PF: Amir Johnson

C: Jonas Valanciunas

Raptors Bench

Alan Anderson

John Lucas III

Quincy Acy

Mickael Pietrus

Hamed Haddadi

Aaron Gray

Landry Fields

Linas Kleiza

Injuries

Andrea Bargnani (elbow) out

Rudy Gay (back) questionable

Key Matchups

vs

Courtney Lee vs DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan is the Raptors leading scorer (other than Gay) with 17.8 points per game. He might not find scoring quite as easy against the Celtics' pit bulls in the back court.

vs

Paul Pierce vs Terrence Ross

Ross is very athletic and is fresh off his slam dunk championship. He is averaging 6.1 points, 2 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game, but in his last game, a start in place of the injured Rudy Gay, he had 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Pierce got the Bobcats game off so should be rested for this one. Gay is listed as questionable with a sore back, but we could see Gay get the start, in which case, this matchup becomes even more important.

Keys to the Game

Rebound - The Celtics have got to crash the boards to prevent second chance points. Much of rebounding is effort and desire as evidenced by guards leading the team in rebounds in some games. The effort they put out on the boards will usually spread to other areas of the game as well. They got out rebounded by the Bobcats 48-29 and have to do a better job on the boards in this one if they expect to win.

Defense - The Celtics must make defense a priority in each and every game. They have been getting back to their defensive roots and need to continue to play that tough team defense all game in every game. With the Raptors, they must particularly guard the perimeter as they love to shoot from beyond the arc. After allowing the Bobcats to score 100 points, hopefully we will see a little better effort in this one.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not just settle for outside shots. Good things happen when players drive to the hoop. They also have to be aggressive on defense and in fighting for loose balls. They showed no aggressiveness or even effort against the Bobcats and they have to correct that in this game.

Ball Movement - The Celtics need to continue to move the ball and find the open man. Hero ball doesn't win games and they won't win many games when they spend half of the shot clock dribbling the ball. At the same time, they have to make smart passes and not turn the ball over.


X-Factors

Back to Back and Home Court

The Celtics are playing in back to back games while the Raptors are well rested and so fatigue could come into play. But, the Celtics are playing at home where they have played well this season. Hopefully the home crowd will give them a boost.

Official Report

Ken Mauer

Veteran NBA official Ken Mauer has officiated 1,545 regular season, 132 playoff, and 10 Finals games during his 26-season career. He was also a member of the crew that officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 2005 Denver All- Star game. Mauer’s resume includes six years of CBA officiating experience, nine years of collegiate officiating experience and 12 years of high school officiating experience in Minnesota. After spending most of his life in Minnesota, Mauer has settled in Ft. Myers, Fla. where he can still watch his cousin, Joe Mauer, with the Twins in spring training. Mauer was a three sport athlete in college at Minnesota where in 1977 he recieved All Big 10 baseball honors.

Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc less than 3 minutes into a game, and that was before the new "Respect the Game" rules. In a recent Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span. Just what we need, another Tech- happy ref. The Celtics have to be on their best behavior with Mauer calling the game.

Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided, giving the Heat the title. In a Suns/OKC game last season, Mauer told Zabian Dowdell not to be a bitch about the calls. Dowdell asked him if he'd say that off the court and Mauer ejected him from the game for it.

The Celtics are 0-3 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Mauer officiating. In 3 games last season he let both teams play and the officiating was good. In one loss to the Hawks last season, 18 fouls were called on the Celtics and 8 on the Hawks and the officiating was terrible. In his last game for the Celtics last season, ECF Game 2 vs the Heat, the Heat shot 47 free throws to 29 for the Celtics. He failed to call a foul on Wade for hitting Rondo in the head on a layup even though he was in position to see it clearly. He also failed to call a foul on Wade for kicking KG who was going up for a layup when he was again the ref in position to do so. He called a questionable clear path foul on Pietrus. Pierce fouled out on a very questionable call, joining Pietrus and Dooling with 6 fouls. LeBron James took 24 free throws himself. One loss this season was in OT to the Bucks who shot 36 free throws to 20 for the Celtics. They refused to call an intentional foul at the end to stop the clock. They also ignored an elbow by Ilyasova to Green's head that left him on the floor and injured, even through Mauer was right there and saw the play. The Hornets are 1-0 this season and 6-4 in the last 10 games with Mauer. It's tough to know which Mauer will show up - the good one that lets them play or the bad one that tries to control the game and make it about himself. The second loss was to New Orleans where the Hornets shot 31 free throws to 16 for the Celtics and the officiating wasn't bad in spite of the free throw disparity. The third loss was to the Hawks who shot 36 free throws to 20 for the Celtics and the officiating was terrible and biased toward the Hawks the entire game, especially in OT. The Raptors are 1-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Mauer. His home W/L record this season is 31-19.

Marat Kogut

Marat Kogut enters his fourth year as an NBA Referee having officiated 163 games. Kogut immigrated to the United States with his family seven days after he was born. Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he started officiating at the age of 16 at local recreational youth leagues. His professional experience includes three years in the WNBA, as well as 4 years in the NBA Development League, where he officiated over 180 games, including the Finals in his last two seasons and the 2009 D-League All-Star Game in Phoenix. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Kogut worked in several Men's NCAA mid-major Division I conferences, including the Ohio Valley Conference, Atlantic Sun, and Big South Conference, as well as in New York metro area High School basketball for four years. Kogut was the Head Men's Basketball Manager for the St. John's Redstorm.

The Celtics 1-2 this season and 5-5 in the last 10 games with Kogut calling them. In one loss last season to the Lakers that Kogut called, the officiating was terrible and LA shot 20 free throws to 5 (yes, FIVE) for the Celtics. In a game vs the Pacers this season, the refs let them play in the first half and then in the second half they started calling a lot of ticky tack fouls on the Celtics. KG was called for a flagrant 2, which has since been downgraded. The Pacers shot 18 free throws in the second half to 9 for the Celtics. The second loss was to the Bobcats where the Celtics shot 26 free throws to 30 for the Bobcats and there were questionable calls both ways. The Raptors are 1-4 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Kogut as a ref. His home W/L record this season is 22-17.

Michael Smith

A winner of the Vanguard Club Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of sports, NBA veteran official Michael Smith has officiated 1,131 regular season and 31 playoff games, as well as the 1997 Schick Rookie Game, the 2000 Mexico Challenge and the 2003 NBA Europe Games.

In addition to his 19 seasons of NBA officiating experience, Smith has five years of CBA officiating experience and eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big Ten, SEC and Conference USA. Smith also has 10 years of high school officiating experience and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1990 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. Smith’s athletic experience includes playing basketball and baseball at South Side High School in Memphis,Tenn.

The Celtics are 2-0 with Smith this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games. Both games were evenly officiated. The Raptors are 4-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Smith. Smith was one of the referees Mark Cuban received a $75,000 fine for criticizing in an OKC/Mavs game last season. His home W/L record is 30-19.

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