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The slumping Celtics visit the surging Knicks

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The Celtics will try to avoid a 4 game losing streak as they visit the Knicks who are looking for their 5th straight win at home.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (16-30) at New York Knicks (10-38)
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #47 – Road Game #23
TV: CSNNE MSG, NBA-LP 754(DTV),752/754(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN NY 98.7
Madison Square Garden

Referees: Ken Mauer, Eric Lewis, Eli Roe

After two games at home the Celtics head back on the road for one game to visit the New York Knicks. This is the second of 4 meetings between these two division foes. The Knicks won the first game in December 101-95. They meet on February 25 in Boston and finally on March 27 again in New York. These two teams have been heading in opposite directions over their last few games. The Knicks have been playing their best ball of the season while the Celtics have been going backwards.

After winning just 5 games all season to that point, the Knicks have won 5 of their last 7 games to double their win total. They have won the last two games vs the Celtics and their last 4 home games. The Knicks are 7-17 at home and 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 7-15 on the road and 3-7 in their last 10.

The Celtics seemed to have turned a corner when they went 3-3 on their tough Western road trip but since returning home, they lost two very winnable games. Part of the reason for their home losses was a failure to come out playing hard from the start and a lack of effort and focus overall. They need to turn that around if they expect to win this game.

The Celtics are a bit banged up with Kelly Olynyk still out and Evan Turner and Avery Bradley playing through hand injuries. Tayshaun Prince missed their last game with a hip flexor and is a game time decision in this game. Not that he was playing anyway, but Shavlik Randolph is expected to be out with a hamstring injury. The Knicks are expected to have Stoudemire (ankle), Bargnani (calf), Aldrich (shin) and Wear (hip) out.

Jared Sullinger was moved out of the starting lineup for the last game due to being late for shoot around but should be back in the starting lineup for this one. Brad Stevens hinted at a change in the starting lineup. Given that Marcus Smart started the second half against the Heat, my guess is that Stevens is moving Smart to the starting lineup. Or he could just be reinserting Sully in with the starters. Whatever the change, it will be a game time decision.

The Knicks success could be attributed to the JR Smith effect. They seem to be playing much better since they traded JR Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cavs. Andre Dawkins has been recalled from the Red Claws and is with the team on the trip. We may get our first look at the him in this game. Also, Stevens hinted at James Young getting more playing time in the near future and that may start with this game.




Probable Starters

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves
Phil Pressey
Tyler Zeller
Gerald Wallace
Marcus Thornton
Tayshaun Prince
Shavlik Randolph
James Young
Evan Turner
Andre Dawkins

Injuries
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) out
Shavlik Randolph
Evan Turner (thumb) probable
Avery Bradley (thumb) probable
Tayshaun Prince (hip) probable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters

PG: Langston Galloway
SG: Jose Calderon
SF: Lou Amundson
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Jason Smith

Knicks Reserves

Shane Larkin
Quincy Acy
Tim Hardaway, Jr
Pablo Prigioni
Cleanthony Early
Lance Thomas

Injuries

Amare Stoudemire (ankle) out
Travis Wear (hip) out
Cole Aldrich (shin) out
Andrea Bargnani (calf) out

Head Coach
Derek Fisher



Key Matchups
vs
Brandon Bass vs Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony had led the Knicks resurgence with 24.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists and is dangerous from everywhere on the court. Bass will need to slow Melo down while also making him work on defense.

vs
Calderon comes into this game averaging 9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists but he is capable of having a big game if not defended well. On the other end, Avery will need to find a way to score himself.

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. In the last two games, they flashed the kind of defense they are capable of in the third quarter but they have to play that kind of defense for the whole game. In their last 7 games, the Knicks have been shooting 56.4% on corner 3's and so the Celtics are going to have to especially guard the perimeter.

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 set the pace of the game. The Knicks give up 100.2 points per game and so if the Celtics can push the pace, they should be able to get some open shots.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics needs 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 lacked aggression against the Heat and lost the game because of it.

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.

X-Factors
Road Game and Focus
The Celtics proved that they can win on the road when they won 3 games on their recent road trip. But, young teams struggle with focus on the road and so they will need to work to keep their focus and their energy. Also, they have lost 3 games in a row and should be focused on winning this game to avoid a 4 game losing streak.

Official Report

Ken Mauer

Ken Mauer has officiated 1,666 regular season, 150 playoff, and 14 Finals games during his 28-season career. He was also a member of the crew that officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 2005 All-Star Game in Denver. Mauer’s resume includes six years of CBA officiating experience, nine years of collegiate officiating experience and 12 years of high school officiating experience in Minnesota. After spending most of his life in Minnesota, Mauer has settled in Ft. Myers, Fla. where he can still watch his cousin, Joe Mauer, with the Twins in spring training. Mauer was a three sport athlete in college at Minnesota where, in 1977, he recieved All Big 10 baseball honors. Mauer regularly supports the Salvation Army, as well as other organizations. He is often a guest speaker at basketball camps and clinics, church groups and officiating groups.

Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc Rivers less than 3 minutes into a game, and that was before the new "Respect the Game" rules. In one Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span. The Celtics have to be on their best behavior with Mauer calling the game.

Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided, giving the Heat the title. In a Suns/OKC game two seasons ago, Mauer told Zabian Dowdell not to be a bitch about the calls. Dowdell asked him if he'd say that off the court and Mauer ejected him from the game for it.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Mauer officiating. In the 2012 ECF Game 2 vs the Heat, the Heat shot 47 free throws to 29 for the Celtics. He failed to call a foul on Wade for hitting Rondo in the head on a layup even though he was in position to see it clearly. He also failed to call a foul on Wade for kicking KG who was going up for a layup when he was again the ref in position to do so. He called a questionable clear path foul on Pietrus. Pierce fouled out on a very questionable call, joining Pietrus and Dooling with 6 fouls. LeBron James took 24 free throws himself.

In a win last season vs the Raptors, the Celtics shot 35 free throws to 19 for the Raptors and the calls seemed to favor the Celtics. In 3 other games with Mauer last season, they let them play and the officiating was even. It's hard to tell which Mauer will show up, the one that lets them play and is fair or the one that tries to micromanage the game and make it about himself. The Knicks are 0-3 this season and 4-6 in the last 10 games with Mauer. He is a veteran official that isn't usually swayed by the home crowd. His home W/L record this season is 16-19.

Eric Lewis
Lewis has spent the last 10 seasons in the NBA, officiating 618 regular season games and 14 playoff games. Lewis spent two years working in the USBL, officiating the Finals in 2002 and 2004. Prior to that he spent three seasons in the NBA D-League, where he worked the 2003 and 2004 Playoffs and 2004 Finals. He tallied eight years in the college ranks, participating in the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley, Sunshine State, Florida Sun and Mid-Florida conferences. Lewis officiated in Florida high schools for six years. With the exception of a Cavs game that was called pretty much one sided, Lewis has been pretty good in calling the Celtics games. The Celtics are 0-3 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Lewis. The Knicks are 1-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 with Lewis. His home W/L record is 19-19.

Eli Roe
Eli Roe
Eli Roe has officiated 499 regular season games during his first nine NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA staff, Roe officiated in the CBA, NBA Development League and WNBA. He officiated in the NBA D-League Finals for two years, the D-League playoffs for four years and the WNBA Playoffs for two years. At the collegiate level, Roe refereed in the SEC, ASUN and OVC conferences and numerous Division II and III, NAIA and Juco league games. He also worked in four Division I postseason conference tournaments.

Roe tends to be inconsistent in his calls and can make the calls favor one team over another on any given night. He is also inconsistent with block/charge calls. In Roe's final game with the Celtics last season, a win over the Clippers, Roe made so many bad calls that Tommy yelled "Eli! I hate Eli! I hate him!" Two other games with Roe last season were well officiated. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Roe. The Knicks are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Roe. This is his first game with both teams this season. Roe's home W/L record this season is 21-14.