Sacramento Kings (13-18) at Boston Celtics (10-18)
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
1:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #29, Home Game #17
TV: CSNNE, CSNCA, NBA-LP 750(DTV)/751,752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KHTK 1140
Referees: Danny Crawford, Tony Brown, Leon Wood
The Celtics host the Sacramento Kings for the first of 2 meetings this season. They will meet again in February when the Celtics go on their west coast trip. This is the second of a 4 game road trip for the Kings. They began the trip with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
The Celtics have lost their last 4 games and hope to avoid a 5 game losing streak with a win in this game. The Celtics are 7-9 at home while the Kings are 5-8 on the road. Neither team has been playing very well with the kings going 2-8 in their last 10 games and the Celtics not much better with 3-7 in their last 10.
When the Celtics and Kings last played, Marcus Thornton was the starting shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings. He was able to practice on Monday and Tuesday but is not expected to play in this game. Jared Sullinger has been out of practice with an ankle injury, but is expected to play in this one.
Brad Stevens is once again shaking up his starting lineup with Evan Turner starting at point guard. Marcus Smart will come off the bench and will share ball handling duties with Jameer Nelson. Stevens noted that Smart has played better with the second unit. James Young has once again been assigned to the Red Claws after 2 solid days of practice.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Evan Turner/ Avery Bradley/ Jeff Green/ Jared Sullinger/ Tyler Zeller
Marcus Thornton (calf) out
Jared Sullinger (ankle) expected to play
James Young (assigned to Red Claws) out
Probable Kings Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Darren Collison/ Ben McLemore/ Rudy Gay/ Jason Thompson/ DeMarcus Cousins
Ramon Sessions (back) out
Eric Moreland (shoulder) out
Tyler Zeller vs DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins has been tearing it up recently, averaging 24.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He has 12 double doubles in his last 13 games. It will be difficult to slow him down but the Celtics bigs will have to try.
Jeff Green vs Rudy Gay
Gay has been playing well and is the Kings second highest scorer with 21.2 points, 6.3 points and 4.6 assists per game. Green needs to bring his A game on both ends of the court to get the better of this matchup.
Keys to the Game
Limit Turnovers - The Celtics have been turning the ball over way too much, especially early in the game. Turnovers usually lead to an easy score at the other end for their opponents and so it's important to focus on their ball handling and passes so as not to give their opponents that advantage.
Rebound - The Celtics have to put out the extra effort to grab the rebounds on both ends of the court. By doing so, they limit the second chance points and fast breaks for the Kings and also give themselves extra possessions.
Defense - The Celtics tend to allow way too many open looks and easy points. They have to make playing defense as a team a priority. Defense not only wins championship, it wins games as well. They have to defend the paint better along with closing out on the 3 point shooters.
Start Strong - The Celtics have had very sluggish first quarters in their past few games. They need to come out strong and get off to a better start. It's tough to dig out from a big hole when they start off slowly.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after loose balls, rebounds and also be more aggressive defensively. The more aggressive team usually gets the calls and also the win.
Practice and Home Court
The Celtics have had 2 days of much needed practice to work in the new players as well as get used to a new point guard. Hopefully it will have a positive effect on their play. They are also at home and hopefully that will give them a boost from the home crowd.
Entering his 30th NBA season, Dan Crawford has officiated 1,926 regular season and 265 Playoff games, including 30 NBA Finals games. During his NBA tenure, Crawford has officiated the 1994 and 2001 NBA All-Star Games, and the 1992 Japan Games in Yokohama. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford spent four years officiating in the CBA. He has eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conferences, and he officiated the 1983 and 1984 National Junior College Nationals.
After one of the Celtics playoff games in Chicago in round 1 in 2008, there was some controversy when he was seen leaving the arena with his family all decked out in Chicago Bulls gear (along with Marc Davis and his family). He was in the news last season because he was accused of having a bias against Marc Cuban because the Mavs were 2-16 in games officiated by Crawford two seasons ago and Cuban was very vocal about it. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Crawford on the court while the Kings are 1-3 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 with Crawford. His home win/loss record this season is 13-12.
Tony Brown has officiated 716 regular season games and five- Playoff games in his first 12 seasons as an NBA official. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated for four seasons in the NBA D-League and CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. During that time he worked the 2002 Finals, the 2002 WNBA All-Star Game and the 2001 CBA Finals. As with most refs, Brown has been good and bad in past games with the Celtics. In some the officiating is one sided and in others very good. This is the Celtics first game with Brown this season and they are 3-7 in their last 10 games with him as a ref. The Kings are 1-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Brown. His home W/L record this season is 10-9.
Leon Wood’s connection with the NBA began as a player when he played professionally with Philadelphia, Washington, New Jersey, San Antonio, Atlanta and Sacramento, averaging 6.4 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 rebounds as a guard during his six-year NBA career. In addition to his NBA playing career, Wood was a member of the Gold Medal winning 1984 United States Olympic Basketball Team, and he won another Gold Medal in the 1983 Pan-Am Games. During his 18-season NBA officiating career, he has worked 1,113 regular season games and 20 playoff games. Wood has three years of CBA officiating experience and one year of collegiate officiating experience in the Ohio Valley and Trans America Athletic Conferences. He also has one year of high school officiating experience in California.
You would think that being a former player, Wood would try to be fair but he has been a fairly mediocre ref at best. Although he's been pretty good in the Celtics games he has officiated. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Wood officiating. The Kings are 4-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Wood. His home W/L record this season is 10-11.
The Celtics hope to end their 4 game losing streak as they take on the Kings in a New Year's Eve matinee.