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Celtics visit Pacers in a clash of division leaders

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The Atlantic Division leading Celtics visit the Central Division leading Pacers.

Alex Trautwig

Boston Celtics (12-16) at Indiana Pacers (21-5)
Sunday, December 22, 2013
6:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #29, Road Game #14
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 751(DTV)/751,753(xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Referees: Jason Phillips, Kane Fitzgerald, Karl Lane

Game Thread l Chat

The Atlantic Division leading Celtics visit the Central Division leading Pacers. Even though each team leads their respective division, there is a world of difference between their records. The Celtics are 4 games under .500 while the Pacers are 16 games over .500.

When these two teams met in November, the Pacers snapped a 4 game losing streak to the Celtics at TD Garden. Since that game, the Celtics have won 8 of 14. The Celtics lead the overall series 86-69 but Indiana leads 46-30 in Indiana.

This game is a part of a back to back set for both teams. The Celtics are playing on the back end of back to back games while the Pacers are playing in the front have of their back to back set.

The Pacers are looking for their second straight win while the Celtics are trying to bounce back after 2 straight losses. The Pacers are 6-4 in their last 10 games and an impressive 12-1 at home. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 5-8 on the road.

Probable Starters
Point Guard
Jordan Crawford vs George Hill

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Lance Stephenson

Small Forward

Jeff Green vs Paul George

Power Forward
Brandon Bass vs David West


Jared Sullinger vs Roy Hibbert

Celtics Reserves
MarShon Brooks
Kris Humphries
Vitor Faverani
Phil Pressey
Courtney Lee
Keith Bogans
Gerald Wallace
Kelly Olynyk

Rajon Rondo (ACL)out

Pacers Reserves
Luis Scola
Orlando Johnson
Chris Copeland
Ian Mahinmi
CJ Watson
Rasual Butler
Solomon Hill
Donald Sloan

Danny Granger (calf) probable

Key Matchups
Jeff Green vs Paul George
Jeff Green vs Paul George
Paul George is playing very well this season, averaging 24.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.08 steals. Jeff Green will need to work on the defensive end to try to contain him. It would be good for Jeff to have a big night offensively to make George work on the defensive end as well.

Jared Sullinger vs Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert is a nightmare for pretty much anyone to match up with and Jared Sullinger will have a distinct height disadvantage when guarding the 7'2" Hibbert who is averaging 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

Keys to the Game
Start Strong, Finish Stronger - In their past two games, the Celtics have gotten off to a very strong start, and a big lead. But then something happens and they seem to lose focus and they end up losing the lead and the game. The Celtics must focus on finishing strong.

Run on Every Possession - The only hope that the Celtics have of getting easy shots would be to run every time they have the ball. They can't win in a half court game with the Pacers.

Go to the Hoop - When the Celtics attack the basket, good things happen. When they lapse into shooting jumpers and stop trying to get the ball inside, they struggle. The Celtics have to try to get into the paint on every possession and either get a shot, a foul, or kick it out to the open man.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the team that wants to win more. They have to attack and run and play with more energy than the Pacers if they want to win. This may be tough on the second night of back to backs, but they need to read way down and somehow find a way to be the more aggressive team.

- The Pacers are a big team and so if the Celtics want to stay in this, they must crash the boards as a team. Every Celtic must make it his job to try to grab every rebound.

On the Road and Fatigue
Young players tend to struggle more on the road but the Celtics young players are more mature than most. Can they keep their focus and turn off the distractions on the road? Also, fatigue may be a factor after playing a tough game the night before.

Official Report
Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips has officiated 824 regular season games and 27 playoff games since joining the NBA officiating staff 13 seasons ago.In addition, Phillips has six seasons of experience officiating in the CBA, working the 1999 CBA Finals. He also officiated three seasons in the WNBA, working the 1999 WNBA Finals. Phillips spent five years officiating at the high school level in his home state of Texas. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Tarleton State. In addition, he played varsity basketball, golf and baseball while at Cisco High School in Texas.

The Celtics are are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. This is his first game this season. The officiating was fairly even in 4 of the 5 games last season. In the game in OKC the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 33 for the Thunder and there were more than a few questionable calls. It was Phillips that got Tommy to swear on the air last season in a game against Houston about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. The Pacers are 1-2 this season and are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Phillips. His home W/L record this season is 13-9.

Kane Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has officiated 242 games in his four seasons as an NBA official. Fitzgerald started refereeing at the age of 18 at the high school level in New Jersey. Prior to the NBA, he had professional experience in the NBA D-League for four years and the WNBA for two years. He also refereed NCAA Division I basketball in the Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Big South Conferences for two years.

You may remember Fitzgerald from three seasons ago 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 that season with the Celtics, the loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte, he tossed Stephen Jackson after 2 quick questionable T's. His quickness in giving technicals dates back to his days in the D-league where he was close to the top in calling technical fouls there as well.

Fitzgerald called the Celtics first game of last season against the Heat where the refs let the Heat get away with shoving and grabbing all night long which resulted in the frustration flagrant on Wade at the end. The other game he called last season was the Nets game that resulted in a brawl. The refs gave Doc a T for yelling to Rondo. They let the Nets get away with pushing and shoving and hard fouls the entire first half. The Nets shot 17 free throws to 5 for the Celtics in the first half and 3 of those free throws were on technicals. They did better in the second half after the brawl, but the refs' failure to call the game evenly in the first half led to frustrations and the fight. The Celtics are 0-3 this season, including 2 losses in the preseason. All 3 were fairly officiated. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald. The Pacers are 1-0 this seasonand 7-3 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald. His home W/L record this season is 12-8.

Karl Lane
Karl Lane enters his third year having officiated 104 regular season games. Lane’s experience includes four seasons and 167 games officiated in the D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason game experience and has worked in NBA summer camps for six years. In addition to his professional experience, Lane officiated collegiate games for nine years in the SWAC and Gulf South Conference and has nine years of high school officiating experience. Lane worked for the Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock, AR as an In‐School Suspension Teacher for 2 years before beginning his career as a referee.

This is his 10th game officiating for the Celtics over his career. The Celtics are 6-3 in those 9 games. In the last game two seasons ago vs the Cavaliers, Lane got under Tommy's skin a bit and after 3 bad calls in a row, Tommy said "This guy doesn't have a clue. His name's Lane. They should show him the highway." Lane called 5 games last season, a loss to Brooklyn in the preseason and a loss to the Pistons where they shot 31 free throws to 25 for the Celtics and there were several blown calls both ways. The 3rd game last season was a win over Chicago. The officiating was terrible and Lane once again got under Tommy's skin after 3 terrible calls in a row. Then to top it off, with 6.2 seconds left, he made a terrible call that fouled Avery out. The next to last game last season was an OT win over Atlanta and the officiating was decent. The last game last season was a loss to Cleveland where the officiating was terrible prompting Tommy to yell" I don't recall a game when there was such a plethora of terrible calls throughout." The Pacers are 7-3 in their last 10 with Lane. His home W/L record this season is 6-9.