Today's Referees: Mike Callahan, Kane Fitzgerald, Karl Lane
Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics finally are playing at home after a 3 game road trip to open the season. The games on the road didn't go so well and the Celtics come home facing an almost must win game to avoid the worst start in 40 years. The last time the Celtics started a season 0-4 was the 1969-70 season. In case you forget, that was the season after Bill Russell retired. The Celtics finished that season with a 34-46 record.
The Celtics' opponents tonight will be Lawrence Frank's Pistons, who are also winless on the season. The Celtics 3 losses came on the road and in a span of 3 games in 4 nights. The Pistons have lost one on the road and one at home. Lawrence Frank was the Celtics' defensive coach from last year. Looking at the fact that the Celtics are allowing opponents 106 points per game and a shooting percentage of 49.6%, you might think that Frank took the Celtics defense with him. But, unlike Tom Thibodeau's Bulls, who are a lock down defensive team, Frank's Pistons allowed a very bad Cavs team to shoot 57.1% in the loss to them.
Doc has listed Paul Pierce as a game time decision. Signs are pointing to an appearance by the Captain in this game. He stated that he would give 24 hour notice before he would play and last night he tweeted that he was close, very very close to playing. I've put Pierce in the starting lineup by way of wishful thinking but Doc has said that he may bring Pierce off the bench in his first appearance. Whether starting or off the bench, having the Captain back on the court will be a huge boost for the green team. The Pistons will be missing Charlie Villanueva who is suspended for the first 3 games of the season for an altercation with Ryan Hollins last season in which Villanueva escalated the fight by going into the Cavs locker room. KG will have to find someone else to taunt.
The Pistons may be just what the Celtics anemic defense needs to get it going. The Pistons are shooting just 40.4% in their two losses. The Celtics have won their last 4 home openers and hopefully that trend will hold in this one and this will get the Celtics back on track toward Banner 18.
Rajon Rondo.... Ray Allen.... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett.... Jermaine O'Neal
Paul Pierce (heel) game time decision
Chris Wilcox (shoulder) day to day
Mickael Pietrus (knee) out
PG SG SF PF C
Rodney Stuckey...Ben Gordon...Tayshaun Prince...Jonas Jerebko..Greg Monroe
Rajon Rondo vs Rodney Stuckey
Rondo has been very aggressive so far in leading the Celtics. Stuckey is a good point guard, but Rondo should be able to get around him and continue his aggressive play.
Ray Allen vs Ben Gordon
This will be a battle of two scorers. Ray has been shooting well so far this season as has Gordon. Ray won't have Rip Hamilton to chase him all over the court but Gordon, with younger legs could cause him some problems.
Paul Pierce (or Sasha Pavlovic) vs Tayshaun Prince
Prince, like the Celtics starters has lost a step or two but he is still a very good veteran player and has always been able to defend Pierce well with his length.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics problems have begun on the defensive end. We haven't seen any of that trademark lock down defense so far and the Celtics have got to find that defensive intensity once again.
Rebound - The Celtics need to be more aggressive on the boards. Rebounding is effort and if the Celtics are putting the effort out to grab rebounds then that effort will translate to the other areas of their game.
Limit Turnovers - The Celtics have been very sloppy with their passes and have been turning the ball over too much. They have to take better care of the basketball.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have played well in spurts to come back from big deficits but they have to play well for 48 minutes. They need to get off to a better start and then not let up until the final buzzer.
Callahan has officiated over 940+ regular season games, 65+ play-off games and 5 NBA Finals games in over 18 years as an NBA referee. Callahan is one of 4 refs to come out of Cardinal O'Hara High School in Pennsylvania. The other 3 are Joey Crawford, Ed Malloy and Tim Donaghy. The Celtics are 9-1 over their last 10 games with Callahan officiating. The Pistons are 4-6 with Callahan in their last 10. He usually lets the teams play and isn't a tyrant with the whistle like Bavetta or Crawford. His home W/L record this season is 0-1.
This is Fitzgerald's 3rd season in the NBA as a referee. You may remember him from last season when he gave KG a very quick pair of technicals (from about 30 feet away) and tossed him in the 2nd quarter of the Celtics 104-101 win over the Knicks (in which Amare scored 30). In another outing last season with the Celtics, the loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte, he tossed Stephen Jackson after 2 quick questionable T's. His quickness with the T dates back to his days in the D-league where he was close to the top in calling technical fouls there as well. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald and the Pistons are 5-3 in their last 8 games over the past 2 seasons with Fitzgerald. His home W/L record is 1-1 this season.
This is Lane's first season as a referee. He has officiated in the D-League for several seasons and was one of the replacement refs during the recent referee strike. He hasn't officiated any Celtics games in the past. His home team W/L record this season is 0-1.
Home Court and Officiating
Hopefully getting back on the parquet and in front of their fans will get the Celtics back to their winning ways. The cheers of the crowd and the friendly confines of the garden may be just what they need.
The officiating has been terrible in all 3 games so far. The league announced that they overturned two of the technicals that were assessed to the Celtics in the 2 point loss the the Knicks on opening day. The officials have been horrible so far with most of the bad calls going against the Celtics at crucial times. Maybe the refs will give the Celtics a break now that they are at home.