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Celtics host Cavaliers for their only visit to Boston this season

The Celtics face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time since they were eliminated in the first round of last year's playoffs.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers (15-7) at Boston Celtics (14-10)
Monday, December 15, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #25, Home Game #13
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WTAM 1100
TD Garden

Referees: Ron Garretson, Mark Ayotte, Eric Dalen

The Celtics return home from their victory over the Hornets to face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time since they were eliminated in the first round of last year's playoffs. The Cavs are tough at home (10-1) but just 5-6 on the road. However, they are coming off one of their biggest road wins of the season, a 111-76 drubbing of the Magic in Orlando

This is the first of 3 games this season with two more games coming in February and March, both in Cleveland. They split the series last season 2-2 with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The Cavs are 4-11 at the Garden since April of 2007.

There is plenty of bad blood between these two teams. After Kelly Olynyk accidentally dislocated Kevin Love's shoulder to end his playoff run last season, Kelly called to apologize several times. Love was saying that he felt that Kelly did it on purpose. He finally said that they were ok but somehow it didn't seem that way.

And after JR Smith ended Jae Crowder's season by cold cocking him in the head causing him to seriously injure his knee, apparently JR never reached out or apologized and Jae has made it known that he'd like to get an apology from him.

Iman Shumpert made his season debut on Friday against the Magic with 14 points and his trademark defense. Kyrie Irving is getting closer to a return, but is still out for this game. Matthew Dellavedova missed Sunday's practice with a sore back but is expected to play in this one. JR Smith missed the Orlando game with an illness but joined the team in Orlando and is also expected to play.

Marcus Smart is expected to miss yet another game for the Celtics. He will be reevaluated later in the week to see how much progress he has made. RJ Hunter practiced on Sunday and may be able to play in this game. Also, Jordan Mickey has been recalled once again from the Maine Red Claws.

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Thomas................... SG: Avery Bradley

SF: Jae Crowder........... PF: Amir Johnson......... C: 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

Possible Starters

PG: Matthew Dellavedova................ SG: Jared Cunningham

SF: LeBron James................. PF: Kevin Love ............... C: Timofey Mozgov

Cavs Reserves
Iman Shumpert
Tristan Thompson
Richard Jefferson
Mo Williams
James Jones
Anderson Varejao
Sasha Kaun

JR Smith (illness) probable
Matthew Dellavedova (back) probable
Kyrie Irving (knee) out

Head Coach

David Blatt

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs LeBron James
Jae did a pretty good job of guarding James in the playoffs. So good in fact, that they send Kendrick Perkins to take him out and when that failed they sent JR Smith to finish the job. Jae will have his hands full in defending James who is averaging 26.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.4 assists.

Amir Johnson vs Kevin Love
Love will be looking for some revenge against the team that ended his playoff run last season. He is averaging 17.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists but he will be looking to have a big game in this one.

Honorable Mention

Evan Turner vs JR Smith
Two key reserve players who will need to produce for their teams. Smith can put up some big numbers and the Celtics will need a boost off the bench from Turner.

Keys to the Game
Defense Defense Defense!! Defense is key to winning every game. The Celtics need to continue to play tough defense. The Cavs are averaging 102 points per game and are holding opponents to 96.7 points. The Celtics are averaging 103.7 points and holding opponents to 98.8 points. They struggle at times to score against tough defenses and so they need to play equally tough defense in order to have a chance to get the win.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. They must crash the boards as a team to prevent the Cavs from getting second chance and fast break points. They also need to rebound to give themselves extra possessions and to fuel their running game.

Run, Run, Run - The Celtics need to run on every possession in order to get some easy points before the Cavs defense sets up. When the Celtics walk the ball up and slow the game down they struggle. They have to run and they have to move the ball. Over the last 3 games the Cavs have allowed a total of only 10 fast break points. The Celtics will need to make a concerted effort to run.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to beat the Cavs to every loose ball and win the 50/50 balls. They have to be aggressive on the boards and in driving into the paint and to the basket. They have to be the team that works harder.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They can't afford to let the Cavs get a big lead because the Cavs are a very good defensive team and it won't be easy to dig out of a hole against them. They also can't let the Cavs back in it if they can manage to build a lead.


Revenge Factors - The Celtics have the revenge factor to get back at the team that ended their playoff run and for Jae, the team that ended his season. The Cavs will have the revenge factor to get back at the Celtics for ending Kevin Love's season and many think that cost them the championship last season.

Officiating - As always, the officiating is an x-factor. Every crew officiates differently and teams never know what to expect. Sometimes they let them play and other times they call a foul on every possession. Some games they call evenly and others they favor one team or the other. It's like Forrest Gump's box of chocolate... you never know what you are going to get.

Official Report
Ron Garretson

Ron Garretson, the son of former NBA official Darell Garretson (1967-94), has officiated 1810 regular season, 215 playoff games, and 11 NBA Finals games over his 28 seasons in the NBA. In addition, Garretson has two years of CBA officiating experience and two years of high school officiating experience in Arizona.

There isn't a lot of controversy surrounding Garretson recently. He hasn't been partiularly bad in the games he's called for the Celtics over the past few years. In the '95-'96 season, Nick Van Exel was ejected from a game for calling Garretson a "little midget" He also was fined $25,000 and suspended 7 games for the incident. In a 2000 playoff game between the Lakers and the Blazers, Rasheed Wallace was ejected for not having the right attitude. Although Sheed stressed that he had not said or done anything wrong, the ejection was upheld. My guess is that Sheed's reputation had a lot to do with that ejection.

Last season, in a game vs the Spurs he lived up to his homer reputation. Even through the Celtics were outplayed by the Spurs, there were a lot of questionable calls against the Celtics and for the Spurs throughout the game. In a playoff game between the Rockets and Mavs last season, the Rockets shot 45 free throws to 17 for the Mavs and the officiating was completely one sided. Joey Crawford was the crew chief for that game and that could explain a lot. Garretson is known as a big time homer ref but usually lets the teams play. He calls 37.9 fouls per game and 45% of those are called on the home team. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 2-8 over the last 10 games with Garretson. The Cavs are 3-7 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 11-8.

Mark Ayotte

Mark Ayotte completed his 11th NBA season having officiated 658 regular season games and two playoff game Prior to joining the NBA, Ayotte was a WNBA official for four years and a CBA official for three years. He spent one year officiating in the NBA D-League.

Ayotte has 12 years of collegiate officiating experience, having worked in the Pac-10, Big Sky and West Coast conferences. He officiated in the Pac-10 Conference Tournament and the Big Sky Conference Tournament, including the finals. Ayotte also was an official for the preseason and postseason NIT. He has 10 years of high school officiating experience in the state of Arizona.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 2-8 over their last 10 games with Ayotte. Ayotte has been good for the most part, but has had a few games where the calls were questionable and the officiating uneven. The Cavs are 1-1 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 with Ayotte. Ayotte was one of the refs in the Mavs/OKC game two seasons ago in which Marc Cuban was fined $75,000 for criticizing the referees as among the worst he has seen. Ayotte calls an average of 40.6 fouls per game with 47% called on the home team. Ayotte has a home W/L record this season of 12-7.

Eric Dalen
Eric Dalen officiated 367regular season games in his first seven NBA seasons. Prior to the NBA, Dalen worked for five seasons in the NBA D-League and officiated the 2008 All-Star Game and Finals. He also officiated for three
years in the Southeastern Conference. Dalen was a two-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota where he played tight end for the football team.

I couldn't find much controversy on the guy other than an article where Andrew Bynum was complaining about Dalen calling all 6 fouls on him in a game in 2008. Some games he has called for the Celtics have been evenly called and well officiated while others have been terrible with bad and no calls and one sided officiating. In a game vs Detroit last season, the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 10 for the Pistons and the Celtics got the benefit of most of the questionable calls. He may be good or he may be bad depending on the other refs and the game. He called the game vs the Sixers and the officiating was good and they let them play. Just 18 free throws for the Celtics and 15 for the Sixer. The Celtics are 1-1 this season (the loss at Indiana) and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Dalen. The Cavs are 1-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. Dalen calls 40.4 fouls per game with 48.7% called on the home team. His home W/L record this season is 9-6.

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