Celtics looking to play spoiler as they host the Suns

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics are trying to play spoiler for the Suns who are hoping to make the playoffs.

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Phoenix Suns (36-28) at Boston Celtics (22-43)
Friday, March 14, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #66, Home Game #35
TV: CSN-NE,FSAZ, NBA-LP 759(DTV)/756(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, Sports AZ
TD Garden
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Kevin Scott, Ben Taylor

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics host the slumping Phoenix Suns who handed the Celtics a 100-94 loss in their first game back after the All Star game. When they last played, the Suns were the 7th seed and just a half a game out of the 6th seed in the west. Since that time, they have slipped out of playoff position and are 9th in the west, 2 games behind the 8th seeded Mavericks.

Both teams are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Suns have lost their last 3 games while the Celtics are on a 2 game skid. The Celtics are 14-20 at home while the Suns are 14-15 on the road. The Suns are playing in the first of a 3 game road trip that will take them into Toronto and Brooklyn also.

The Celtics are hoping to get Avery Bradley back for this game which would give them a boost, especially on the defensive end. The Suns got Eric Bledsoe back into their lineup on Wednesday after he missed 33 games with a knee injury. Former Celtic Leandro Barbosa will miss the game with a hand injury while another former Celtic, Dionte Christmas comes off their bench.



Probable Starters

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Jerryd Bayless


C: Kris Humphries


SF: Jeff Green
PF: Brandon Bass

Celtics Reserves
Kelly Olynyk
Jerryd Bayless
Joel Anthony
Chris Johnson
Kris Humphries
Phil Pressey
Chris Babb

Injuries
Keith Bogans (personal) out
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Gerald Wallace (knee,ankle) out
Avery Bradley (ankle) day to day



Probable Starters

PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Gerald Green


C: Miles Plumlee


SF: PJ Tucker
PF: Channing Frye

Suns Reserves
Markieff Morris
Marcus Morris
Alex Len
Ish Smith
Dionte Christmas
Archie Goodwin
Eric Bledsoe

Injuries
Leandro Barbosa (hand) out
Emeka Okafor (neck) out

Key Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Goran Dragic
Dragic has been playing very well for the Suns. He is averaging 20.6 points, 6.2 assists and 1.35 steals. This will be a fun matchup to watch.

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Jerryd Bayless vs Gerald Green
Former Celtic Gerald Green has put up some big dunks this season and is playing well enough to start for the Suns. He is averaging 15.6 points and 3.5 rebounds this season. Players always give a little extra to beat the teams that traded them in the past and so expect a big game from Gerald in this one.

Keys to the Game
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics tend to have periods in the game where they can't make shots, let up on defense and turn the ball over. They have to find a way to be more consistent and play strong for all 48 minutes.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics need to do both if they hope to get a win in this game. The Suns are averaging 20.5 fast break points per game since the break. The Celtics will need to crash the boards to prevent second chance and fast break points from the Suns.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be aggressive in going after loose balls, taking the ball to the hoop and playing in your face defense. When they get lazy and allow teams to beat them to loose balls and rebounds and when they settle for jumpers and don't go to the basket, they are very beatable. They have to be the more aggressive team from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Defend the Perimeter - The Suns are third in the league with 9.4 3-point makes per game. The Knicks killed the Celtics from beyond the arc and the Celtics must defend the Suns beyond the arc to prevent them from hitting those long distance bombs.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics need to take care of the ball and limit their turnovers because the Suns will turn any turnovers into fast break points.

X-Factors
Pride and Motivation
The Celtics are playing for pride while the Suns are playing to make the playoffs. Will the Celtics pride be enough to get them past a motivated Suns team?

Bad Ref Alert
Salvatore may just be the worst ref in the league, and that is saying a lot because there are some bad ones. Almost always one team or the other gets an advantage when he is officiating and I'll give you a hint, it usually isn't the Celtics.

Salvatore made one of the most controversial calls in NBA finals history in game 5 of the 2006 finals. The call basically gave the Heat their championship. Here is Bill Simmons' take on the call.

Salvatore called the foul on Wade's final drive in overtime (remember, the call where ABC couldn't find a replay to show that anyone touched him?) even though he was standing at midcourt a full 35-40 feet from the play, and even though two other refs were closer to the play. Not only was that NOT his call, he butchered it.
Another of Salvatore's "butchered" calls was in the 2008 conference finals when he waved off a contested 3-pointer that Paul Pierce had hoisted over Richard Hamilton, inducing Hamilton to leave his feet with a ball fake and land on Pierce's back. Pierce, however, was charged with an offensive foul for creating the contact with Hamilton. It was a terrible call. The thing with Salvatore is you never know what you will get. He can be good but he can also be very, very bad. Here is a little taste of Salvatore at work:


With Salvatore, you never know what you are going to get, and more often than not it isn't good.

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