Boston Celtics (28-36) at Indiana Pacers (30-34)
Saturday, March 14, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #65, Road Game #32
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-TV, NBA-TV Canada
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1070 The Fan
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Referees: Joey Crawford, Josh Tiven, James Williams
The Celtics visit the Pacers for the 3rd of 4 games this season. The two teams have split the first two games with each team winning on their home court. Both games were close with the Celtics winning 101-98 in Boston and the Pacers winning 107-103 in overtime in Indy. They will meet once more in Boston on April 1.
The Pacers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, looking for their 8th straight win. The Celtics have been playing very well also, having won 8 of their last 11 games and three tough games in a row. Luis Scola described the Celtics as the Pacers' biggest rival for playoff seeding.
Roy Hibbert missed the Pacers' win over the Bucks on Thursday with a sore elbow and was listed as questionable for this game but now is being listed as probable. If Hibbert can't go, Ian Mahinmi will probably get the start at center once again. Paul George was rumored to be possibly back for this game but he is listed as out. For the Celtics, they will be without Isaiah Thomas once again as well as Jared Sullinger.
The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are 11-20 on the road. The Pacers are 9-1 in their last 10 games and 18-14 at home. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games and had to grind out a win over the Magic on the night before. But, the Celtics are very good on the second night of back to backs, going 8-5 this season so far. However they are just 1-4 when the first game is at home and the second is on the road.
Probable Starting Matchups
Marcus Smart vs George Hill
Avery Bradley vs CJ Miles
Evan Turner vs Solomon Hill
Brandon Bass vs Davis West
Tyler Zeller vs Roy Hibbert
Jared Sullinger (foot) out
Isaiah Thomas (back,elbow) out
Roy Hibbert (elbow) probable
Paul George (tibia) out
Tyler Zeller vs Roy Hibbert
Hibbert missed Thursday's game against the Bucks with an elbow injury and is questionable for this game. He had missed the game before the Celtics last game against the Pacers and was also listed as questionable for that game. He ended up playing in that game and finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. It would be a huge break for the Celtics if the 7'2" center is out but word is he will probably be playing.
Brandon Bass vs David West
West is averaging 12.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and has torched the Celtics in the past. It will be important to limit his impact on the game. Brandon Bass has been playing very well on both ends of the court and hopefully that will continue in this game.
Marcus Smart vs George Hill
Hill is averaging 13.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Smart will need to play good defense and keep Hill from getting the Pacers into their sets quickly. Between Smart and Avery Bradley, the Celtics backcourt needs to slow down the Pacers' back court. CJ Miles scored 17 in their last meeting so keeping these two down will be key.
Keys to the Game
Push the Pace - The Celtics are most effective when they run and move the ball. They struggle when they slow the pace of the game down. In spite of playing in back to back games, they need to run on every possession. However, when they push the pace they have to focus more to avoid the turnovers that can derail their game.
Defense - Even though the Pacers aren't necessarily a high scoring team, averaging 96.7 points per game, the Celtics still need to play tough team and individual defense as they have players who are capable of having big offensive nights. Also, since the Pacers are a very good defensive team, allowing only 96.1 points per game (3rd in the league), playing good defense themselves will be the Celtics' best bet to beat them.
Rebound - The Pacers are 5th in the league in rebounding at 45.1 rebounds per game, thanks in part to their 7'2" center. The Celtics will need to put out extra effort to crash the boards as a team in order to prevent second chance points for the Pacers. The Celtics can't score without the ball and so they need to grab rebounds to give themselves more scoring opportunities.
Be Aggressive and Play Hard - The Celtics need to play hard and be aggressive from start to finish. They have to be more aggressive on the boards, in diving for loose balls, in going hard to the hoop, and just play harder on both ends of the court. They have won 3 games in a row by being the more aggressive team, especially down the stretch. They need to keep that up in this game.
Don't Depend on 3 Pointers - If the 3's are falling, it's really great, but too often they aren't and the Celtics wast possession after possession by jacking up 3's with the rebounds going to their opponents. The Celtics beat the Magic because they finally started going inside down the stretch. If the 3's aren't falling in this game, the Celtics need to get inside and score there.
Fatigue and Road Game
The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games and they had to travel overnight. It's possible that fatigue could set in. Also, they are on the road and sometimes young teams struggle with focus on the road. They have won some big games on the road recently and so hopefully they can keep that going in this one.
A game after Tony Brothers, who is usually a good ref, made some of the worst calls all game against the Celtics, it's not all that comforting to see Joey Crawford as the lead ref in this one. Joey Crawford is perhaps the one ref that evokes fear and loathing at the mention of his name. Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,500 regular season and 331 Playoff games, including 49 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s Playoff and NBA Finals totals are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford officiated in the Eastern League (CBA) from 1974-76.
There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion scandal in 1998 and was suspended at that time as well as being sentenced to six months of house arrest and three years' probation Friday for federal income tax fraud.
He is widely viewed as one of the refs in the NBA who can officiate with an agenda and shows his biases on the court, hence the controversy that seems to follow him throughout his career. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Crawford. He hasn't been particularly bad or biased in any of the Celtics recent games. However, Joey Crawford is like the proverbial box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get on any given night. He is one referee in the league who doesn't seem to be influenced by the home crowd. In fact, at times he seems to delight in antagonizing the home fans. The Pacers are 0-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Crawford. His home W/L record this season is 21-20. Here is Joey at his best, making the game all about him.
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. The Celtics are 4-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Tiven while the Pacers are 1-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Tiven on the court. His home W/L record this season is 29-23.
James Williams enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 216 regular season games. Williams owns 10 years of experience in the collegiate ranks, having officiated for the NCAA from 2001-2010. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, and has worked two NBA D-League Finals as well as the 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game. There hasn't been a lot of controversy with James Williams as a referee. None of his games stand out as terribly bad as with some refs. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Williams while the Pacers are 0-3 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 28-21.
The Celtics go for their 4th straight win and a gain in the playoff standings as they visit the red hot Indiana Pacers.