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Celtics host the Horford-less Hawks in their second straight matinee game

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In their second straight matinee game, the Celtics host the Hawks in the second of 4 meetings between these two teams this season.

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks (17-14) at Boston Celtics (13-17)
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
1:00 PM ET
Game #31 Home Game #17
TV: CSNNE, SportSouth, NBA-LP 752(DTV)/751,753(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, WQXI
TD Garden
Referees: Marc Davis, Marat Kogut, Michael Smith

Game Thread l Chat

CLNS Radio Post Game Show
Call in: 347-215-7771

The Celtics host the Hawks in the second of 4 meetings between these two teams this season. The Celtics won the first meeting in Atlanta 94-87. The Celtics have extra motivation to beat the Hawks in that they will more than likely own the Hawks' pick in this year's draft and every loss improves that pick.

Atlanta is currently in the 3rd spot in the East, 6.5 games behind the Heat, who are in the second spot. The Celtics are in 8th and 1 game behind the Raptors, who hold the 4th spot by virtue of leading the Atlantic Division.

The Hawks lost their center and best player when Al Horford went out with a shoulder injury. Horford is a two-time NBA All-Star who is the Hawks leading scorer (18.6 points per game) and rebounder (8.4 rebounds per game). Losing him was a major loss, but they are still a very tough team even without him. The Celtics can't take them lightly.

This is the Celtics second consecutive afternoon game. They are 2-1 in matinee games this season. Afternoon games tend to favor the home team. Let's hope the Celtics have their minds on the game and aren't planning their New Year's Even celebrations.

Be sure to join the chat during the game and catch the CLNS Post Game Show right after the game. Daniel Baker and Mike "The Scotsman" Munger will be leading the discussion starting at 3:30pm Eastern as they recap the game and look forward to 2014. Special guests include "Stats" Adam Lowenstein to give us all the important numbers and milestones and CLNS Radio's Celtics Locker Room reporter, Jared Weiss, will be joining the show as well.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

Jordan Crawford vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Lou Williams

Small Forward
Jeff Green vs Kyle Korver

Power Forward
Brandon Bass vs Paul Millsap

Jared Sullinger vs Elton Brand

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

Rajon Rondo (ACL)out

Hawks Reserves
Mike Scott
Gustavo Ayon
Shelvin Mack
Pero Antic
Dennis Shroder
Jared Cunningham

DeMarre Carroll (thumb) out
Cartier Martin (ankle) questionable
John Jenkins (leg) out
Al Horford (shoulder) out

Key Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Paul Millsap
Millsap has been playing very well this year for the Hawks, averaging 17.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. Bass's defensive strengths should make this a good matchup.

Jared Sullinger vs Elton Brand
With Al Horford out, this could be a matchup that favors the Celtics. Brand is a big body in the paint and a very good player, but he has also lost a step over the years.

Honorable Mention
Jordan Crawford vs Jeff Teague
Teague has become a very good point guard and is averaging 17.0 points, 8.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. If Teague gets hot, we may see Avery on him and Crawford defending against Lou Williams. It will be important to slow Teague down.

Keys to the Game
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have been getting off to fast starts and big leads. But, in the second half, they stop running, stop moving the ball, and stop going to the basket. They have to keep doing what works right until the final buzzer.

Defend the Perimeter
- The Hawks depend on the three to score. They are 3rd in the league, making 9.5 3's per game and are making 38.3% of their shots from beyond the arc. They have several good shooters from distance and the Celtics must up their perimeter defense.

- The Celtics must crash the boards as a team, especially the guards. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics must be the team that wins the rebounding battle.

Set the Pace - The Celtics have to run on every possession. Part of the reason they have given up big leads is that they stop running, stop pushing the ball inside, and stop moving the ball. They have to keep up the pace for the entire game.


Matinee and Focus
Matinee games usually favor the home team and that would be the Celtics in this game. They should also get a boost from the home crowd. Hopefully they will keep their focus in this game and not be thinking about their New Years Eve plans.

Official Report
Marc Davis

Marc Davis, an avid outdoorsman, has been an NBA official for the past 15 seasons, working 911 regular season games and 43 Playoff games, and the 2007 NBA All-Star Game. Davis has officiated two Finals games during his career. In addition to his NBA experience, Davis has three years of CBA officiating experience and three
years of collegiate basketball officiating experience in the OVC and TAAC Junior Colleges. In 2000, Davis was the recipient of the Honorary Nate Humphries Award, an honor given by the Chicago Public League Coaches Association in recognition of enshrinement of an official into the Chicago Public League Hall of Fame. Davis is active in the Chicago community where he grew up.

Davis was investigated for threatening to whoop Allen Iverson's a** when AI complained about a call in a game in 2005, but was not suspended for it. The Celtics history with Davis goes way back also. In 2009, Davis was seen after a Celtics/Bulls game with his family all decked out in Bulls gear. Can a Bulls fan honestly call a Celtics game without any bias, especially one against the Bulls? One memorable game two seasons ago was a 1 point loss to the Cavs in which Davis and friends ignored a very obvious foul committed against Paul Pierce in the final seconds of the game and in which the Cavs shot 20 free throws to 14 for the Celtics.

In a win against the Hawks two seasons ago with Davis, the officiating was terrible. The Hawks shot 23 free throws to 13 for the Celtics. KG fouled out in that game on a terrible call. They were holding his jersey and had an elbow in his back and they called the foul on KG. Greg Stiemsma fouled out shortly after on two more terrible calls. In the 4th quarter, 12 fouls were called on the Celtics and only 4 on the Hawks. In OT, 4 fouls were called on the Celtics while none were called on the Hawks, even through there were several very obvious fouls committed. Donny Marshall usually doesn't comment on the officiating but said that the Celtics needed to send the tape of that game to the league because Davis made it all about him. Davis also called Game 1 of the Hawks series two seasons ago. There were missed and bad calls the entire game. At one point, the ref at half court called an obvious foul on the Hawks when Davis, right next to the play, failed to call it. The frustration over the lack of calls boiled over and resulted in Rondo bumping Davis and being ejected. He seems to create havoc every time he officiates a Celtics-Hawks game.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games. The loss this season was to Portland in which there were bad calls going both ways all night. Most games last season that Davis officiated weren't all that bad. But, the last loss was vs the Bulls and the officiating was terrible. With 12 seconds left, Pierce was trapped and fouled, including a busted lip, right in front of Davis with no call. Rondo was signalling for a time out right in Davis' face but they called a jump ball instead of calling the foul or the time out. Even Hubie Brown was talking about how bad the calls were the entire game and Hubie doesn't usually comment on the officiating. In a win over Detroit, the officiating was again terrible. Detroit took 10 free throws in the first quarter while the Celtics got their first FT with 5 seconds to go in the quarter. Detroit finished with 30 free throws to 22 for the Celtics and there were bad calls and no calls the entire game. The Hawks are 1-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Davis on the court. His home W/L record is 16-9.

Marat Kogut
Marat Kogut enters his fifth year as an NBA Referee having officiated 208 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 are 1-1 this season with the loss being in the preseason to Toronto and the win was over the Bobcats in which the officiating was good. They are 3-7 in the last 10 games with Kogut calling them. In one loss last season to the Lakers, the officiating was terrible and LA shot 20 free throws to 5 (yes, FIVE) for the Celtics. In a game vs the Pacers last 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 and was ejected. That flagrant 2 was later downgraded. The Pacers shot 18 free throws in the second half of that game compared to 9 for the Celtics. Another loss last season was to the Bobcats where the Celtics shot 26 free throws to 30 for the Bobcats and there were questionable calls both ways but it was evenly called. His last game for the Celtics last season was a win over the Raptors where the Celtics shot 35 free throws to 19 for the Raptors and the Celtics seemed to get the benefit of close calls. The Hawks are 2-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Kogut as a ref. He is not influenced by the home crowd and his home W/L record this season is 9-11.

Michael Smith
A winner of the Vanguard Club Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of sports, Michael Smith has officiated 1,173 regular season and 26 playoff games, as well as the 1997 Schick Rookie Game, the 2000 Mexico Challenge and the 2003 NBA Europe Games.

In addition to his 20 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 7-3 over their last 10 games with Smith on the court and 1-0 this season. Smith called the first game this season against the Hawks in which the Celtics took 31 free throws to 12 for the Hawks and the Celtics got the benefit of several questionable calls. The first 3 games last season were evenly officiated. The last one against Cleveland was terrible. Tommy described it this way: "I don't recall a game when there was such a plethora of terrible calls throughout." The Cavs shot 26 free throws to 22 for the Celtics and the bad calls went both ways. The Hawks are 1-3 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Smith. Smith was one of the referees Mark Cuban received a $75,000 fine for criticizing as being unprofessional and biased in an OKC/Mavs game last season. His home W/L record is 11-13.