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Celtics look to bounce back (to back) as they visit the surging Hornets

The Celtics are looking to bounce back from their 2OT loss to the Warriors as they visit the Charlotte Hornets.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (13-10) at Charlotte Hornets (14-8)
Saturday, December 12, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #24 Road Game #12
TV: CSN-NE, FSSE, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/754(XFinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WFNZ 610 AM
Time Warner Cable Arena

Referees: Danny Crawford, Brent Barnaky, Marat Kogut

The Celtics traveled to Charlotte after a tough double overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. The Charlotte Hornets are also playing in the second of back to back games, having traveled from Memphis after a 123-99 win over the Grizzlies.

The Hornets are for real. They are 10-3 at home and have won their last 4 games. They have the 2nd best record in the East right now so the Celtics can't take them for granted. Both teams will be battling fatigue after a game the night before as well as having to travel overnight.

The Celtics pride themselves in playing well on the second night of back to backs. They are 3-1 in those games this season and have won their last 3 in a row. The Hornets are 2-0 on the second night of back to back games.

Marcus Smart will sit out yet another game for the Celtics with the leg injury. RJ Hunter is still considered day to day with the hip injury. For the Hornets, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out with a shoulder injury while former Celtic Al Jefferson is suspended for this game as part of a 5 game suspension for a drug offense.

Probable Starters
Isaiah Thomas.....Avery Bradley....Jae Crowder....Amir Johnson....Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves

Evan Turner
Jonas Jerebko
Terry Rozier
James Young
Kelly Olynyk
Jordan Mickey
Tyler Zeller
David Lee

Marcus Smart (leg) out
RJ Hunter (hip) day to day

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters
Kemba Walker....Nicolas Batum....PJ Hairston....Marvin Williams....Cody Zeller

Hornets Reserves
Troy Daniels
Tyler Hansbrough
Aaron Harrison
Spencer Hawes
Frank Kaminsky
Jeremy Lamb
Jeremy Lin
Brian Roberts


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) out
Al Jefferson (suspended) out

Head Coach

Steve Clifford

Key Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs Kemba Walker
Walker is averaging 17.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game and is playing as well as just about any point guard in the league. After dealing with Stephen Curry on Friday night, it won't get any easier for the Celtics having to try to slow down Walker.

Avery Bradley vs Nicolas Batum
Batum has also been playing very well and is averaging 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. He had a triple double in the Hornets' win over the Heat on Wednesday.

Keys to the Game
Forget About the Warriors - The Celtics lost a very tough double OT game to the Warriors on Friday night and have to turn around and play another tough team the next night. They need to forget about that loss and come out with the mindset of beating the Hornets. Don't let that loss hangover this game.

Rebound - The Celtics can't run and they can't score if they don't have the ball. They must crash the boards as a team and put out the extra effort it takes to get the rebounds. Charlotte surrenders the 4th fewest offensive rebounds per game at 9.1 per game. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics must put out more effort, especially on the boards,than the Hornets if they want to win this game.

Defense - Defense is always a key to getting a win. The Celtics have to get stops, especially down the stretch. The Hornets average 103.1 points per game and they allow just 98 points per game. The Celtics will need to work hard on defense if they want to get the win. They have to play as a team and trust each other on defense and have each others' backs.

Be Aggressive - When the Celtics are aggressive going after loose balls, crashing the boards, defending and taking the ball hard to the hoop, they are very tough to beat. They have to be the more aggressive team and they have to be the team that plays harder. Being the more aggressive team will also usually get them more calls from the refs (except against the Warriors).

Move the Ball but Limit Turnovers
- The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man. They struggle to score when the ball stops moving. At the same time, they have to limit turnovers. They give away way too many points by making careless passes and by losing focus. The Hornets turn the ball over just 12.5 times a game, which is the fewest in the league. The Celtics have to take care of the ball and keep their turnovers low as well.


Fatigue and Depth - Both teams are playing in back to back games and had to travel overnight. The Celtics depth could be a factor here but playing the next night after a double OT loss is a lot tougher than playing after an easy win.

Officiating - We saw in the Golden State game first hand that officiating can make a big difference in the outcome of the game. Hopefully the officials are a bit more even in this game.

Official Report
Danny Crawford

Entering his 31st 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. 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 and Cuban was very vocal about it.

In the last regular season game that he called for the Celtics last season, the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 10 for the Pistons and most of the questionable calls went the Celtics way. In the loss this season at home to the Spurs, he allowed the Spurs to get away with a lot of pushing, grabbing, and hacking while they called the same things on the Celtics. At the half, the fouls were 14-3 in the Spurs favor. In spite of the Celtics being aggressive in going to the basket (Celtics 52 points in the paint to 38 for the Spurs), the Spurs shot 25 free throws for the game to 14 for the Celtics. So, who knows what we will get in this game. After last night, the refs definitely owe the Celtics one. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Crawford on the court while the Hornets are 4-6 in their last 10 with Crawford. His home win/loss record this season is 8-9.

Brent Barnaky
Brent Barnaky enters his sixth NBA season having officiated 271 NBA games. Barnaky came to the NBA with 10 years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern Conference, Big East, Conference USA and other college conferences as well. He completed three years of postseason officiating in the NIT (2008-2010). He officiated the 2008, 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Playoffs, and the 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Finals.

As with many of the refs, Barnaky can be good or very bad. The Celtics have had a couple of memorable games with Barnaky in the past. In a loss to the Pistons three seasons ago that Tommy Heinsohn called the worst officiated game all season, Rondo was ejected and the Pistons shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics. In a game vs the Bucks last season, he allowed the Bucks to mug the Celtics all game and called ticky tack fouls on the Celtics but when the Celtics tried to commit an intentional foul to stop the clock, they wouldn't call it. He called the win at home vs the Wizards this season and the game was called evenly. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Barnaky while the Hornets are also 1-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 9-11.

Marat Kogut
Marat Kogut enters his seventh year as an NBA Referee having officiated 318 games. Kogut immigrated to the United States with his family seven days after he was born. Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., 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 D-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, Atlantic Sun, and Big South Conferences, as well as in New York metro area high school basketball for four years.

Kogut has called games that favored the Celtics and some where the Celtics couldn't get a call and some others where they were called evenly. I guess it depends on his mood and possibly the lead official. He calls an average of 39.4 fouls per game with 49.2% of those fouls called on the visiting team.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Kogut. He called a loss to the Cavs last season where the game was called evenly through 3 quarters and then completely one sided for the Cavs in the 4th quarter. He ignored a push off and elbow below the belt by LeBron on Jeff Green and instead called the foul on Green. Cleveland shot 37 free throws to 23 for the Celtics. The Hornets are 0-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Kogut. His home W/L record is 7-6.

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