The Celtics start the regular season right where they left off in the preseason, taking on the Brooklyn Nets at home. The Celtics beat the Nets twice in the preseason but those wins don't mean much once the games start to count. These two teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum with the Celtics fielding a young team and the Nets with a more veteran team. The Nets will travel to Boston on Wednesday, October 29 for a 7:30 p.m. EDT game,
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Brooklyn Nets (0-0) at Boston Celtics (0-0)
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #1, Home Game #1
TV: CSNNE, YES, League Pass (Xfinity 754, DTV 755)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WFAN
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Nick Buchert, Josh Tiven
the first of four regular season matchups between the two teams. Brooklyn will play the
Celtics at TD Garden once more on Friday, December 26 at 1:00 p.m. EST, before the teams play the final two games of the 2014-15 season at Barclays Center on Wednesday, January 7 at 7:30 p.m. EST and Monday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo missed both preseason games and Rondo and Lopez game time decisions while Garnett should be back in the lineup. Rondo has participated in a couple of practices along with the shoot around with no setbacks and may be available for opening night unless Ed Lacerte ties him down and forbids him to play. He is officially a "nap time decision." Rondo has said that he will decide when he wakes up from his nap on Wednesday afternoon, but has been giving hints that indicate that he will probably play. Lopez is more than likely out and Mason Plumlee should get the call to start alongside Kevin Garnett in his absence.
The Nets first year head coach Lionel Hollins is stressing a greater emphasis on toughness and defense this season. Hollins wants his team to be tough and aggressive every time down the court. They were disappointed in their performances on that end in the preseason and will be looking to be more aggressive on defense in this game.
Celtics second year coach Brad Stevens has been preaching pace and space to his young Celtics. He wants the team to run and to outwork their opponents. He has also been preaching defense as a priority along with spreading the floor by hitting their shots from beyond the arc. If the young Celtics can execute their coach's game plan, they might have a good chance to pull this one out.
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
Avery Bradley vs Bojan Bogdanovic
Jeff Green vs Joe Johnson
Jared Sullinger vs Kevin Garnett
Kelly Olynyk vs Mason Plumlee
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Rajon Rondo (hand) nap time decision
Brook Lopez (foot) doubtful
Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
I'm pretty sure that everyone is expecting Rondo to play in this game and he loves to play against the other top PG's in the league. Since he hasn't played in the preseason and just got back to practice, he may be a little rusty, but expect him to give Deron Williams all he can handle.
Jared Sullinger vs Kevin Garnett
This is the student vs the teacher. Kevin Garnett taught much to Sully while he was with the Celtics and Jared has learned those lessons well. This will be an interesting matchup to watch with KG on the way down in his 20 year career and Sully on the way up. I know one thing, KG is going to make it a point of pride to keep Sully from putting up big numbers at his expense.
Keys to the Game
Pace and Space - The Celtics must run and move the ball and hit their outside shots. Tommy Heinsohn made the point that 33% from beyond the arc is equal to 50% on two point shots. So, the Celtics need to hit their outside shots to space the floor and help them set the pace for the game.
Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. They have to rebound from every position on the court in order to give themselves extra possessions and to limit the Nets' fast break opportunities and second chance baskets.
Defense - Defense is always the key to winning. Both coaches have stressed defense for their teams in training camp. If the Celtics can follow their coach's instructions on defense, they give themselves a chance to win.
Focus - The Celtics are a young team and they are facing a more veteran team. They must focus and not let the opening night pressure get to them. If they can keep their focus and execute the game plan, they can pull this one out.
Home Court and Youth
The Celtics home court should be a big factor in the team's ability to win. The Celtics' crowd is always loud and should give the team a boost. Although loud crowds like the Celtics may rattle a young opponent, they shouldn't affect a veteran team like the Nets as much.
The Celtics youth can be a plus and a minus. The positive is that they are young and can run longer and faster than the more veteran Nets. The negative is that they lack experience, especially down the stretch and so are often inconsistent.
Bennett Salvatore - Bennett Salvatore has been an official in the NBA for the past 32 seasons, and has worked 1,764 regular season and 235 playoff games, including 25 NBA Finals games. Salvatore has also worked the 1993 and 2002 NBA All-Star Games, the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany, and the 1997 Mexico Challenge. Prior to joining the NBA, Salvatore spent two years officiating in the CBA and10 years officiating high school.
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. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Salvatore calling the games while the Nets are a perfect 10-0 in their last 10 with Salvatore.
Nick Buchert - Nick Buchert enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 219 games. Buchert owns nine years of collegiate officiating experience. Additionally, he has officiated the 2010 NBA D-League Finals and 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Buchert while the Nets are 4-6 in their last 10.
Josh Tiven - Joshua Tiven is entering his fifth NBA season having officiated 227 NBA games and one playoff game.Tiven has seven years of NCAA officiating experience, as well as two years of WNBA officiating experience and two seasons of WNBA Playoff experience. He also has worked three NBA D-League Finals, as well as the 2007-08 NBA D-League All-Star Game. Tiven lives in Connecticut and he has a twin brother who is a big Celtics fan and who has been shown in the crowd at the Garden when Tiven was officiating. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Tiven while the Nets are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Tiven on the court.