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Celtics take on Rajon Rondo and the Kings in Mexico City

The Celtics continue their 5 game road trip with a game against the Kings in Mexico City.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (10-8) at Sacramento Kings (7-12)
Thursday, December 3, 2015
10:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #19, Road Game #9
TV: CSNNE, CSNCA, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/757(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1140 AM
Mexico City Arena

Referees: Bill Kennedy, Bennie Adams, Ben Taylor
The Celtics continue on to the 3rd game of their 5 game road trip as they travel south of the boarder for a meeting with the Sacramento Kings. These two teams split the series last season with each team winning on their home court. Even though this is listed at Celtics at Kings, both teams are on the road at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico.

The last game in Sacramento was the first game after the trade deadline with Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko on the roster but unable to play. It was also George Karl's first game as coach of the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins lead the Kings to a 109-101 victory in that game with 31 points and 15 rebounds.

The Kings record of 7-12 is a little misleading in that they are just 1-7 without DeMarcus Cousins who has missed 8 games with various injuries. They are 6-5 with Cousins in the lineup. They are coming off a big win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday when Cousins returned after a 3 game absence with soreness in his lower back.

Of course, the big story will be Rajon Rondo playing against his former team. After a rough time with the Mavericks last season, he has been rejuvenated and is playing at an all star level once again. He leads the league with 4 triple doubles in his first month with the Kings. On the other side, Isaiah Thomas was drafted 60th overall by the Kings in 2011 and will also be facing his former team.

The Celtics are 1-1 on their current road trip and 4-4 overall away from the Garden. The Kings are 2-6 away from Sleep Train Arena. This game is part of NBA's Global Games 2015 and is the 3rd game held in Mexico City.

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

Celtics Reserves

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

Marcus Smart (leg) out

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Probable Kings Starters
Rajon Rondo / Ben McLemore/ Rudy Gay/ DeMarcus Cousins/ Willie Cauley Stein

Kings Reserves

Quincy Acy
James Anderson
Marco Belinelli
Omri Casspi
Darren Collison
Seth Curry
Duje Dukan
Kosta Koufos
Eric Moreland

Caron Butler (knee) questionable

Head Coach

George Karl

Key Matchups
Amir Johnson vs DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins is a force on both defense and offense. He is averaging 28.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.68 blocks. The Celtics will have their hands full trying to contain him in this game. Expect to see at least one alley oop from Rondo to Cousins in this game. I also expect to see Sully guarding Cousins for some of the game as he has had some success guarding him in the past.

Isaiah Thomas vs Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is going to want to put on a show for his former team. He is averaging 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists and 1.68 steals. He scored 29 points in his first meeting with the Celtics as a Maverick. He scored 21 points on Monday against those same Mavericks. As is often the case, we may see Avery Bradley covering Rondo on defense. If Rondo feels up to it, he can also play some tough defense so Isaiah may struggle to score against him.

Honorable Mention
Jae Crowder vs Rudy Gay
Gay is capable of putting up a lot of points in a short time. He is averaging 18.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Jae is a very good defender and should be able to slow Gay down.

Brad Stevens vs George Karl
We have a matchup of the new guard vs the old guard. Stevens is one of the best new coaches in the league and George Karl is considered to be one of the best of the very experienced coaches in the league. This should be fun to watch.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to put out 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.

- The Celtics have tried to make defense their priority so far this season. Defense not only wins championship, it wins games as well. They have to defend the paint to keep Cousins especially away from the basket as well as closing out on the 3 point shooters. They have to play tough team defense to get a win in this one.

Start Strong and Play 48 Minutes - There have been times that the Celtics come out sluggish and other times when they seem to fall apart down the stretch. They have to come out strong in the first quarter and play tough as a team until the final buzzer. No let up.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after loose balls, rebounds and also be more aggressive defensively. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and also in moving the ball. The more aggressive team usually gets the calls and also the win.

Run and Move the Ball- The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and when they keep the ball moving to find the best shot. They need to run on offense to get easy shots before the Kings defense can set up. They also need to run on defense to keep the Kings from getting into their sets and to keep them from getting easy baskets. They also have to move the ball. When they tend to dribble too much, the rest of their game seems to become stagnant.

Mexico City
- Both teams are on the road, which is an unusual situation for a regular season game. Which team will respond better to being in the unusual situation? (Also, don't drink the water)

Officiating - Regardless of whether in the US or in Mexico, the officiating is an x-factor. Whether because of the tendencies of individual refs, or an agenda on behalf of the refs or the league, each game is officiated differently and that can favor or throw a team off on any given night.

Official Report
Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy’s 17 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 1,056 regular season, 68 playoff and five NBA Final games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has five years of officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated two games in the WNBA Finals in 1998 and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona.

Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs. Here is how Doc described the incident:

"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."

Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. With Doc out in LA, that should be in the past. He may even feel a certain kinship with the Celtics with both of them being dissed by Doc.

The last couple of seasons, he has been decent in the games he's called for the Celtics. He calls an average of 41.4 fouls per game with 54.1% on the road team. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Kennedy while the Kings are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. Kennedy's home W/L record this season is 7-5.

Bennie Adams
A former math instructor at Southern University, Bennie Adams joined the NBA officiating staff 21 seasons ago, and since then has officiated 1,171 regular season and nine Playoff games In addition, he has been a USA Basketball official since 1995. Adams has also officiated the 2008 NBA Europe Live Tour and the 2002 NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge. Adams officiated in the CBA for three years, and worked the 1996 CBA Finals. He also has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Trans America Athletic and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. Adams also has 10 years of high school officiating experience in Louisiana. Adams has both a Masters and Bachelors degree in mathematics from Southern University.

Adams tends to be inconsistent especially on charge/block calls. He is on Tommy Heinsohn's naughty list (along with a lot of others). In one game, Tommy went ballistic yelling at the top of his lungs "GO BACK TO YOUR MOMMA BENNIE ADAMS!!!" However, he hasn't been particularly bad in recent games with the Celtics. Adams calls an average of 39.2 fouls per game and tends to let them play for the most part. 45.9% of those fouls are on the home team. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Adams. The Kings are 0-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 8-4.

Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor enters his third NBA season having officiated 109 regular season games. Taylor joins the full-time staff after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League, already having offciated 17 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. He also serves as an FIBA International Basketball Referee.

While at Middle Tennessee State University, where he received a BA in Public Relations, Taylor was a member of the Theta Iota Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity, where he coordinated many events, headlined by the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s "Bike to Jack and Back" as the Philanthropic chair.

In a game last season against the Magic the officiating was terrible. The Celtics were mugged all night with no calls while they were called for ticky tack contact with the Magic. Orlando shot 28 free throws to 20 for the Celtics, but 6 of the Celtics' free throws were intentional fouls at the end of the game. Otherwise he wasn't bad last season. In his only game with the Celtics this season, the loss to Dallas, the officiating was terrible. After they called 2 clean blocks by the Celtics fouls, Tommy yelled, "That's 2 strikes against them." Then after failing to call a Parsons elbow to Smart's head right in front of Taylor, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Here are just a couple comments from many from Mavs fans:

"Curious sequence there. Phantom foul on Bradley, Lee gets mugged - no call, and ticky tack foul on Lee"
"I'd be pissed if I was a Celtics fan at this officiating."
"I'll take the win but without the refs help, we lose this one."

Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston, even after several intentional fouls by Boston at the end.
The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Taylor. The Kings are 1-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Taylor. His home W/L record this season is 7-5.

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