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Celtics finish road trip with a visit to Kendrick Perkins and the Pelicans

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The Celtics make their final stop on their 5 game road trip in New Orleans to take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (11-9) at New Orleans Pelicans (5-15)
Monday, December 7, 2015
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #21 – Road Game #11
TV: CSN-NE, FSNOLA, NBA-TV
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WRNO 99.5
Smoothie King Center

Referees: Ron Garretson, David Guthrie, Scott Twardoski

The Celtics make their final stop on their 5 game road trip in New Orleans to take on the Pelicans. The Celtics swept the series last season and ended a streak of 3 consecutive losses in New Orleans. The Celtics are 5-5 on the road overall and 2-2 on the current road trip. The Pelicans are 4-5 at home. The game will be televised nationally on NBA-TV.

The Celtics shouldn't be fooled by the Pelicans' 5-15 record as they have been playing better and figuring out how to win tough games. They have won 3 of their last 4 at home, including a 104-90 home win over the San Antonio Spurs. They shouldn't be taken lightly, especially on the last stop of a lengthy road trip.

Former Celtic (and still one of my favorite players) Kendrick Perkins is on the injured list but is healing ahead of schedule and may be back on the court by the end of the week. But, I'll miss seeing him play in this one. Also out will be Quincy Pondexter with a knee injury.
For the Celtics, Marcus Smart is still out with the leg injury and David Lee is questionable with a heel injury. Avery Bradley was ill all Sunday night and missed shoot around. He is a game time decision and it will be a big blow to the Celtics if he can't play. Also R.J. Hunter suffered a slight strain of his left hip flexor during a 3-on-3 game after practice Sunday and has been ruled out for tonight's game.


Probable Starters
Point Guard

Isaiah Thomas

Shooting Guard

Avery Bradley

Small Forward


Jae Crowder

Power Forward

Amir Johnson

Center

Jared Sullinger

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

Injuries
Marcus Smart (leg) out
David Lee (heel) questionable
Avery Bradley (illness) game time decision
RJ Hunter (hip) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters
Point Guard


Tyreke Evans

Shooting Guard

Eric Gordon

Small Forward

Alonzo Gee

Power Forward

Anthony Davis

Center


Omer Asik

Pelicans Reserves
Ryan Anderson
Jrue Holiday
Dante Cunningham
Norris Cole
Luke Babbitt
Alexis Ajinca
Tony Douglas
Ish Smith

Head Coach
Alvin Gentry

Injuries
Kendrick Perkins (pectoral) out
Quincy Pondexter (knee) out



Key Matchups
vs
Amir Johnson vs Anthony Davis
Davis is dominant and is averaging 23.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. In the two games against the Celtics last season, Davis averaged 31.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. Amir and Sully will have their work cut out for them trying to contain him.

vs
Avery Bradley vs Eric Gordon
Gordon is averaging 17 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3 assists. He is shooting 35% from beyond the arc and can get very hot if not guarded closely.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense will always be the key to winning. The Celtics have got to play tough defense and get stops if they want to win this game. The Pelicans average 95.8 points on the road, but they average 110.1 at home. The Celtics have to play strong defense from start to finish to keep them from scoring at will.

Rebound - The Celtics have to crash the boards as a team. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics have to show that effort on the boards. When they put that extra effort out to dominate the boards, it often translates to all other areas of the game as well.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have got to be aggressive in going to the basket, playing defense, diving for loose balls and just playing harder. Their effort and aggressiveness can make up for the lack of a superstar.

Run and Move the Ball - The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and also run back on defense to get set up before the Pelicans begin their offense. They also have to move the ball as when they over dribble and try to do too much individually, the offense gets stagnant. Run and Pass.

Focus - The Celtics are playing their 5th straight game on the road with a lot of travel in between. They need to keep their focus on the game and not on the hostile crowd and their road fatigue. Hopefully they will treat this like they do the back to back games and hunker down and get the win.

X-Factors
Fatigue - The final game on a road trip is a tough one. Hopefully the Celtics can overcome the fatigue of all the travel and focus on the game at hand and not look forward to being home again.

Players Missing
- The Celtics could have a problem if both Avery Bradley and RJ Hunter miss the game. The back court will be very short handed if that happens. The Celtics are a deep team, but with the injuries mounting, missing players could be the difference in a win or a loss.

Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. When the officials let them play and don't try to over control the game, the Celtics play best. Of course, there is always the chance of an official having a personal agenda or the league sending a message.

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 but 55% of those are called on the visiting team.

David Guthrie

David Guthrie enters his eleventh season after officiating 582 regular season games and 18 playoff games. Prior to joining the NBA, Guthrie was an official in the CBA, NBA D-League and the New York City Pro Am. He participated in the D-League playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the D-League championship games in 2004 and 2005. He officiated at the collegiate level in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, Southern, OVC, ASUN, Big South and SWAC conferences and participated in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments. In the past, Guthrie has been a decent referee, usually letting the teams play rather than over-officiating. He calls an average of 42 fouls per game with 51.3% called on the road team.

Scott Twardoski

Scott Twardowski enters his 5th year as an NBA Referee having officiated 219 regular season games. Twardowski’s experience includes six seasons and 206 games officiated in the D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason game experience and worked in NBA summer camps for eight years. He also has seven seasons of WNBA experience, working both the All-Star game and Finals. In addition to his professional experience, Twardoski officiated collegiate games for 12 years in the Pac 10, Big 12, Big Sky and West Coast Conferences and has 10 years of high school officiating experience. Twardoski worked as a teacher for five years in the 16th School District, Covington, AZ.

Twardoski has called some games that seem to favor the Celtics and some that seem to favor the opponents. None stand out as being obviously one way or the other. There's not much controversy in his career so far. He calls an average of 42.3 fouls per game with 51.5% called on the road team.