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Celtics look for first 4 game win streak as they host the Knicks

After two games on the road, the Celtics return home to take on the division rival New York Knicks and go for their first 4 game win streak of the season.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

at
New York Knicks (14-17) at Boston Celtics (17-13)
Sunday, December 27, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #31, Home Game #16
TV: NBA-TV, CSN-NE, MSG
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN NY 98.7
TD Garden

Referees: Sean Corbin, Tre Maddox, Josh Tiven

After two games on the road, the Celtics return home to take on the division rival New York Knicks. This is the first of 4 games between these two teams. They will play again in a couple of weeks on January 12th at Madison Square Garden and again on February 2. They will play the final game in Boston on March 4.

The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Knicks are 4-6 in their last 10. The Celtics are 8-7 at home and the Knicks are 7-9 on the road. Both teams are playing in back to back games with the Celtics playing the Pistons on the road and the Knicks playing in Atlanta on Saturday night.

The Celtics may be approaching a full team for the first time in 5 weeks with Marcus Smart being cleared to return and possibly making his return in this game. Amir Johnson returned to the starting lineup against the Pistons on Saturday. David Lee sat out Saturday's game and is a game time decision for this game.


The Knicks are pretty much at full strength with Carmelo returning to the lineup on Saturday vs the Hawks with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Lou Amundson is a game time decision with back spasms. Kristaps Porzingis is a game time decision with a finger injury that he suffered in Saturday's game. And Robin Lopez sat out the second half against the Hawks after getting 6 stitches above his eye but is expected to play in this one.

The Celtics are looking for their first 4 game win streak of the season. The Celtics have their second 3 game win streak of the season. The first 3 game win streak ended with a 106-102 loss to Dallas at home. The Knicks have been struggling and have lost their last 3 games but Carmelo Anthony is back now and so the Celtics need to take them seriously.



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
Jordan Mickey
Tyler Zeller
David Lee
RJ Hunter
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries

Marcus Smart (leg) game time decision
David Lee (back) game time decision

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters

PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Robin Lopez

Knicks Reserves

Kevin Seraphin
Langston Galloway
Cleanthony Early
Jerian Grant
Lou Amundson
Sasha Vujacic
Derrick Williams
Lance Thomas

Injuries
None

Head Coach

Derek Fisher



Key Matchups
vs
Jae Crowder vs Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony returned from an ankle injury just in time to take on the Celtics. Jae Crowder is getting a reputation as one of the top wing defenders in the league and he will need to put that to the test to guard Melo, who is averaging 21.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

vs
Amir Johnson vs Kristaps Porzingis
The Knicks 7'3" rookie is averaging 13.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and he has long since changed the boos he heard on draft night into cheers. His length makes him tough to handle and the Celtics will have their hands full, especially keeping him off the boards.

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Arron Afflalo
Afflalo is averaging 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists and is capable of putting up big numbers if not guarded closely.

Keys to the Game
Defense
- Playing tough team defense is the key to winning every game. The Celtics need to concentrate on getting stops and keeping the Knicks' offense off balance. The Knicks average just 97.9 points per game but they allow just 99 points per game. The Celtics need to play tough defense to limit the Knicks scoring.

Set the Pace
- The Celtics need to run on every possession from start to finish. It seems that when they run they build leads and outplay the other team. When they slow it down, they fall behind and lose leads. They have to run and keep up the pace for the whole game.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They have to be more aggressive in going after loose balls, in grabbing rebounds, in defending, and in going to the basket. They have to be the team that wants it more.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire and when the Celtics put out the extra effort to win the battle of the boards, they seem to play better overall. They have to grab rebounds to keep the Knicks from getting out on the break and to keep them from getting second chance points.

Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, they play very well. When they have a lot of assists, they are tough to beat. They need to play as a team with no hero ball.

Limit Turnovers - Sometimes ball movement results in too many turnovers. The Celtics have to be careful not to make careless and bad passes. They also need to keep their focus and not allow the Knicks to get steals that would lead to easy baskets.

X-Factors
Back to Back - Both teams are playing back to back games. The Celtics' depth could make a difference here and allow them to be fresher at the end of the game.

Home Game - While both teams are playing back to back and both teams had to travel after their game, the Celtics have the advantage of playing at home and hopefully will get a boost from the home crowd.

Officiating
- The officiating is always an X-Factor. You never know if a crew will call the game tight or let them play and the team has to be able to adjust to any officiating style. And you never know when a ref will have an agenda and call it one sided for one of the teams. We can only hope for an evenly called game where they let them play.

Official Report
Sean Corbin

The 20-year NBA referee has officiated 1,182 regular season NBA games and 57 Playoff games, along with the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, 1999 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 1996 Schick Rookie Game. Corbin spent the summer of 2004 officiating basketball at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Corbin’s resume includes four years officiating in the CBA and nine years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big East, Southern, Southeastern, Mid-Eastern Athletic and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferences. He also has four years of high school basketball officiating experience.

Corbin has been good in most of his games with the Celtics without any bad games standing out until last season. In the game vs the Pacers, there were a lot of terrible calls down the stretch including an out of bounds call that was obviously wrong and pretty much gave the game to Indiana. Other than that, he's been decent. He called the game with the Sixers this season and let them play and it was well officiated. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 games with Corbin. The Knicks are also 1-0 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 with Corbin. Corbin is a homer ref with a home W/L record so far this season of 16-7. Last season he had almost twice as many home wins as road wins in his record.

Tre Maddox
Tre Maddox enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 211 regular season games. Maddox’s experience includes four seasons and 158 games officiated in the D-League. He also has five seasons of NBA preseason game experienece and worked in NBA summer camps for five years. In addition to his professional experience, Maddox officiated collegiate games for six years in the PAC 10, West Coast and Pac West Conferences and has eight years of high school officiating experience.

The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Maddox as a ref. He has been a decent ref for most of those. but in a game last season vs the Hawks, that the Celtics won, there were quite a few terrible calls down the stretch. They ignored obvious fouls by the Hawks and called ticky tack fouls and phantom fouls on the Celtics. Ken Mauer was the head official and made the majority of the bad calls, but Maddox was part of the crew. The Knicks are 0-1 this season and 2-5 over Maddox's career. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 16-5.

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. Tiven also has little controversy in his time in the league and has been fairly good in the games he has called for the Celtics. In the game this season vs the Spurs, however, the officiating was one sided toward the Spurs with the Spurs allowed a lot of contact and the Celtics called for any contact. In spite of the Celtics being aggressive with 52 points in the paint to 38 for the Spurs, the Celtics shot just 14 free throws to 15 for the Spurs. At the half the free throws were 14-3 in favor of the Spurs. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Tiven. The Knicks are 0-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Tiven. Yet another homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 17-5.