Celtics try again to break losing streak as they take on the Cavs

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics travel to Cleveland for a battle of the 5 game losing streaks.

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Boston Celtics (36-34) at Cleveland Cavaliers (22-47)
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
7:00 PM ET
Game #71, Road Game #36
TV: CSNNE, FSO, SNET1, LP 755(BOS)/756(CLE)
Radio: WTAM, WEEI
Quicken Loans Arena
Referees: Bill Kennedy, Brian Forte, JT Orr

Game Thread l Chat

Boston Celtics Tickets

The Celtics travel to Cleveland for the third of 4 meetings with the Cavaliers. In spite of having just 22 wins, the Cavs are perfectly capable of playing spoiler and would love to hand the Celtics another loss. The Celtics won the first meeting in Boston 103-91 while the Cavs took the second meeting in Cleveland 95-90. They will meet one more time in April.

The Celtics are now 3-7 in their last 10 while the Cavs are 2-8. The Celtics have been terrible on the road this season with a 12-23 record away from the Garden. The Cavs aren't much better at home, however, with just a 13-21 record at home. The Celtics are fighting for playoff seeding while the Cavs are vying for lottery seeding.

The Celtics are still in the 7th spot but just 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks, who are in 8th. There's no way that either slips out of the playoffs, but if the Celtics can't right the ship, they may drop back into the 8th spot. The loss to the Knicks put them back into the 2nd spot and if both can hang onto those spots would face each other in the first round. The Celtics are now 2.5 games behind both Chicago (5th) and Atlanta (6th).

The Celtics have now dropped their last 5 games and very much need a win in this one, not just for standings, but also for team morale building toward the playoffs. The Cavs have also lost 5 in a row, so one of the teams will have their losing streak snapped. Hopefully it will be the Celtics.


Probable Starters

Avery Bradley......Courtney Lee.......Paul Pierce...... Jeff Green ........Brandon Bass


Celtics Reserves

Jason Terry

Jordan Crawford

DJ White

Shavlik Randolph

Terrence Williams

Chris Wilcox

Injuries

Courtney Lee (ankle) game time decision

Rajon Rondo (knee) out

Jared Sullinger (back) out

Kevin Garnett (foot) out


D-League

Fab Melo

Probable Starters

Shaun Livingston.....Wayne Ellington ....Alonzo Gee....Tristan Thompson.....Tyler Zeller

Cleveland Bench

Luke Walton

Omri Caspi

Kevin Jones

Daniel Gibson

CJ Miles

Chris Quinn

Marreese Speights

Injuries

Anderson Varejao (knee) out

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out

Dion Waiters (knee) out

Key Matchups

vs

Avery Bradley vs Shaun Livingston

Livingston has a height advantage but Bradley has a speed advantage. It can't be much harder for Avery than having to guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 40 the last time they met.

vs

Jeff Green vs Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson had a big game in the Cavs win over the Celtics, scoring 21 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Green needs to limit Thompson in this one as well as getting his own offense going.

Honorable Mention

Brandon Bass vs Alonzo Gee

Gee is averaging just over 10 points a game, but he went off for 20 in the first meeting between these two teams. This may be one of the few times that Bass will have a height advantage on his opponent.

Keys to the Game

Mental Toughness - Call it mental toughness or focus, the Celtics need to have it to win on the road. The Celtics must keep their heads in the game. They have to come out strong and play until the final buzzer. They have to concentrate on making crisp passes instead of sloppy ones that turn the ball over. They need to be aggressive on both ends of the court and keep their focus, whether on defense, free throws, shot selection, effort, or just playing team ball.

Rebound - Rebounding is key to getting a win. When the Celtics put the effort in to crashing the boards and battling for rebounds, that effort also tends to show in other areas of the game as well. Even though they are at the bottom of the league in rebounding, they have shown that when they make the the effort to hustle for every rebound, things usually go well.

Defense - Defense is the key to every game. There have been times when the Celtics can lock down a team and keep them from getting any easy scores. There are also times when they allow tip ins and layups and second chance points over and over again. With KG out, it becomes even more important for every player to commit to tough defense. It goes back to that mental toughness thing. The Celtics can't lose their defensive mindset. They must lock in on defense from beginning to end.

Be Aggressive - They need to be more aggressive going to the hoop, especially if the shots aren't falling. They also have to be aggressive on defense, fighting for loose balls, rebounding, and bringing the ball up the floor. The team that is more aggressive usually wants the game more and will usually be the team that comes out on top.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics once again were too sloppy with the ball against the Knicks. That has been a problem for them during this losing streak. They turned the ball over 20 times vs the Knicks for 17 points in a 15 point loss. Pierce and Crawford each had 6 turnovers. Pierce has been turning the ball over quite a lot lately and it might be time for Doc to take the ballhandling duties from him. They simply must focus more on taking care of the ball as it's tough to win when you give the other team 20 extra possessions.

X-Factors

On the Road

The Celtics have been terrible on the road this season, losing to teams they should easily beat. They have won just 12 games on the road this season and much of that is focus and effort and that old mental toughness thing. The Celtics have got to figure out winning on the road since they aren't likely to have home court in any of their playoff series and this would be a good time to do it.


Official Report

Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy’s 14 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 865 regular season and 53 playoff games, including four Finals 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 8-2 with Kennedy in their last 10 games and 2-0 this season. In both games this season, the officiating wasn't bad. In a win over the Pacers last season, 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. Much was said about Kennedy's past with Doc before game 6 with Atlanta last season, but that game was well officiated, with the Celtics getting some big calls down the stretch. Kennedy got the Celtics back in the next game he officiated, as in game 4 of the Philly series, the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 36 for the Sixers and every questionable call was in favor of the Sixers. The Cavs are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Kennedy and 1-2 this season. His home W/L record this season is 38-19.


Brian Forte

Brian Forte, who is the son of retired NBA referee Joe Forte, has officiated 275 regular season games in five NBA seasons. He also officiated the 2011 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophmore game and was selected as an alternate for last seasons playoffs. He worked for six seasons in the NBA Development League, officiating 126 games. During that time he worked two NBA Development League Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southern Conference, where he officiated the 2007 conference tournament final, and the Southeastern Conference, where he was selected to officiate the 2007 conference tournament. Forte also was selected to officiate the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Forte was one of the refs along with Eddie F Rush that officiated a Celtics win in Indiana last season. The officiating in that game was horrible and very one sided toward the Pacers. One of the comments from the Pacers' forum said that they wouldn't blame Celtics fans if they punched out the refs. Tommy also had this to say, "I hope this group of officials doesn't officiate the playoffs. Holy cow! They are terrible." The Celtics are 2-0 this seasonand 8-2 over their last 10 games with Forte as a ref. One win was over the Jazz and the officiating was even. The second win was another Pacers game where the officiating was terrible. They called 12 fouls on the Celtics in the first half compared to just 5 on the Pacers. The second half was called a little more even but the questionable calls all went against the Celtics. The Cavs are 3-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Forte. His home W/L record this season is 29-29.


JT Orr

J.T. Orr enters his second NBA season having officiated 44 regular season games. Orr’s experience includes five seasons and 177 games officiated in the NBA D-League. Orr has over 20 years of officiating experience, including five seasons and 177 games officiated in the NBA D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason experience and worked in NBA summer camps for nine years. In addition to his professional experience, J.T. officiated collegiate games for 13 years, including service for the PAC 10/12, West Coast, Big West, multiple small college conferences and has 15 years of high school officiating experience. J.T. worked the NCAA tournament in 2011.

This is Orr's second game with the Celtics this season. He has called 3 games total for the Celtics, both losses, including the loss in Denver last season where the Celtics shot 17 free throws to 31 for the Nuggets. The free throws in the first three quarters were 22-5 in Denver's favor and and only evened up somewhat in the 4th quarter after the game was out of the Celtics' reach. The only game he called this season was also against the Nuggets where the officiating was again terrible with the Nuggets shooting 36 free throws to 16 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 0-3 lifetime with Orr while the Cavs are 2-2 this season and 2-6 with Orr over his career. As with many young refs, he tends to be influenced by the home crowd. His home W/L record this season is 32-14.

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