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The reeling Celtics visit the surging Nets for a must win game

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The Celtics face the Nets in a must win game if they hope to continue their push to make the playoffs.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports




at
Boston Celtics (30-39) at Brooklyn Nets (29-39)
Monday, March 23, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #70, Road Game #35
TV: CSNNE, YES, League Pass 750(DTV), 751/752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WFAN
Barclays Center

Referees: Marc Davis, Steve Anderson, Derrick Collins
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The Celtics have lost 3 games in a row and have now dropped out of the 8th playoff spot back into 9th. Charlotte beat the Timberwolves on Sunday and jumped back into the 8th spot, half a game ahead of the Celtics. The Pacers are tied with the Celtics in 9th with the Nets just 1/2 game behind them.

This is the 4th and final game between the Celtics and the Nets. The Celtics lead the series 2-1, winning the first game 121-105 in Boston and winning again in January 89-81 on the road. They lost the game the day after Christmas at home 109-107. A win in this game will be big as it would give the Celtics the tie breaker with the Nets should they end up tied. The Celtics are at the point where they need every game.

The Nets have won their last 2 games and 3 of their last 5, which has allowed them to climb to within half a game of the Celtics, after being 2.5 games behind. The Celtics had won 5 straight and were playing very well, but then lost their last 3. The Nets are 12-19 at home and 4-6 in their last 10 while the Celtics are 12-22 on the road and 6-4 in their last 10.

The Celtics are playing on the second night of a back to back. They are 9-5 overall in the second of back to back games including some big wins in those games. But, they are just 2-4 in the second game of back to backs when the first game is home and the second game is on the road.

The Celtics will be happy to have Marcus Smart back in the lineup after serving his one game suspensio. Isaiah Thomas isn't expected to return until at least Wednesday. Jared Sullinger will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. For the Nets, Sergey Karasev (knee) and Mirza Teletovic (chest) are both out.

The Nets have plenty of talent on their team, despite the record and so the Celtics can't take them for granted. They will need to play much better than they did against the Pistons if they hope to get a win in this one. For those watching the scoreboard, Houston is playing at Indiana and Charlotte is playing at Chicago. If they hope to make the playoffs, this is a must win.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Marcus Smart vs Deron Williams

Shooting Guard
vs
Avery Bradley vs Markel Brown

Small Forward
vs
Evan Turner vs Joe Johnson

Power Forward
vs
Brandon Bass vs Thaddeus Young

Center
vs
Tyler Zeller vs Brook Lopez



Celtics Reserves
Gerald Wallace
James Young
Phil Pressey
Shavlik Randolph
Jonas Jerebko
Gigi Datome
Kelly Olynyk
Jae Crowder

Injuries

Jared Sullinger (foot) out
Isaiah Thomas (back,elbow) out

Head Coach

Brad Stevens


Nets Reserves
Alan Anderson
Bojan Bogdanovic
Jarrett Jack
Cory Jefferson
Jerome Jordan
Darius Morris
Mason Plumlee

Injuries
Sergey Karasev (knee) out
Mirza Teletovic (chest) out

Head Coach
Lionel Hollins



Key Matchups
vs
Evan Turner vs Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson is averaging 15.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game and he is always a threat to have a big game. The Celtics need to cover him, especially on the perimeter. On the other side, he has never been known as a lock down defender and so the Celtics may get some open looks as a result.

vs
Tyler Zeller vs Brook Lopez
Lopez has been playing very well of late and will be a tough matchup for Zeller. He is averaging 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He is coming off a win over Indiana where he scored 26 points to go with 4 rebounds and 4 blocks and before that, he posted 32 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a win over the Bucks.

Honorable Mention
Marcus Smart vs Deron Williams
Like Joe Johnson, Williams is always a threat. He is averaging 13 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists. In his last game against Indiana, he finished with 17 points, 1 rebound and 6 assists.

Player to Watch
Jarrett Jack
Jack has played very well against the first three contests between these two teams. He has averaged 17.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and3.7 assists in the 3 games against the Celtics this season. The Celtics would do well to play some defense on him in this one.

Keys to the Game

Pace and Space - The Celtics must run and move the ball and get open shots. Running on every possession will allow them to get easy shots before the defenses can get set up. They can also wear the older Nets down if they can keep the pace up.

Move the Ball - When the Celtics keep the ball moving and find the open man, good things happen. They did a good job of keeping the ball moving against the Pistons for most of the game. But for some reason, in the 4th quarter, they stopped moving the ball and started playing hero ball. They have to keep the ball moving in this one. Hero ball rarely will win a game.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. They have to rebound from every position on the court in order to give themselves extra possessions and to limit the Nets' fast break opportunities and second chance baskets. They all have to make an effort on the boards.

Defense - Defense is always the key to winning. The Nets allow 100.7 points per game points per game while the Celtics allow 101.7 points per game. The Celtics absolutely must clamp down on defense and find a way to get stops.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics seem to either start out fast and build an lead and then slack off and let the other team back into the game. Or, they start slow and dig a big hole and then have to play very hard to catch up and come up just short. They have to play hard from start to finish and avoid those slumps.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team from start to finish. Against the Pistons, they were aggressive much of the game and for some reason became passive in the 4th quarter, allowing the Pistons to get an advantage. They must be the more aggressive team in going after loose balls, in rebounding, on defense, in going hard to the hoop, and just play harder in general.

Focus - The Celtics shot just 36% against the Pistons. They aren't going to win many games shooting like that. They are capable of shooting much better but seem to lose focus. They need to regain their focus and play as a team as they did in their win streak. Move the ball, play as a team, and stay focused.

X-Factors
Focus and Fatigue

Can the Celtics get back to playing team ball? Can they regain their focus and get back to what got them 5 wins in a row? The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to backs and in a tough stretch of games. They are also on the road and so fatigue may be a factor down the stretch.

Official Report

Marc Davis

Marc Davis has been an NBA official for the past 16 seasons, working 977 regular season games, 55 Playoff games, and the 2007 NBA All-Star Game. Davis has officiated four Finals games during his career. In addition to his NBA experience, Davis has three years of CBA officiating experience and three years of collegiate basketball officiating experience in the OVC and TAAC Junior Colleges. He grew up in Chicago and is still active in the Chicago area.

Davis was investigated for threatening to whoop Allen Iverson's a** when AI complained about a call in a game in 2005, but was not suspended for it. The Celtics history with Davis goes way back also. In 2009, Davis was seen after a Celtics/Bulls game with his family all decked out in Bulls gear. Can a Bulls fan honestly call a Celtics game without any bias, especially one against the Bulls?

In a win against the Hawks three seasons ago with Davis, the officiating was terrible. The Hawks shot 23 free throws to 13 for the Celtics. KG fouled out in that game on a terrible call. They were holding his jersey and had an elbow in his back and they called the foul on KG. Greg Stiemsma fouled out shortly after on two more terrible calls. In the 4th quarter, 12 fouls were called on the Celtics and only 4 on the Hawks. In OT, 4 fouls were called on the Celtics while none were called on the Hawks, even through there were several very obvious fouls committed. Donny Marshall usually doesn't comment on the officiating but said that the Celtics needed to send the tape of that game to the league because Davis made it all about him. Davis also called Game 1 of the Hawks playoff series three seasons ago. There were missed and bad calls the entire game. At one point, the ref at half court called an obvious foul on the Hawks when Davis, right next to the play, failed to call it. The frustration over the lack of calls boiled over and resulted in Rondo bumping Davis and being ejected and suspended.

In a game two seasons ago against the Bulls, the officiating was terrible. With 12 seconds left, Pierce was trapped and fouled, including a busted lip, right in front of Davis with no call. Rondo was signalling for a time out right in Davis' face but they called a jump ball instead of calling the foul or the time out. Even Hubie Brown was talking about how bad the calls were the entire game and Hubie doesn't usually comment on the officiating. Last season, in a game against the Kings, Davis even got to the mild mannered Brad Stevens. Davis ignored obvious pushing and shoving by DeMarcus Cousins all night. At one point, Gerald Wallace pointed out an obvious foul by Cousins and was tossed to which Stevens pointed out that he could have thrown out Cousins all game and was tossed as well. He has been decent in his 5 games this season and, if anything, in one of the games, gave the Celtics the benefit of the doubt. I wonder if his problem was with Rondo all along and with Rondo gone, he's feeling a kind of kinship with the Celtics. Stranger things have happened, I guess.

The Celtics are 5-0 this season, including a win over the Knicks in preseason, and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Davis while the Nets are 3-2 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 with Davis. His home W/L record this season is 31-28.

Steve Anderson
Steve Anderson enters his second NBA season having officiated 45 regular season games. He joined the full-time staff in 2013-14 after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League and already having officiated 18 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. Anderson officiated the FIBA U19 World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2013. The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 4-5 over Anderson's career while the Nets are 2-1 this season and 6-4 over Anderson's career. His home W/L record is 27-20.

Derrick Collins
Derrick Collins has officiated 806 regular season games and 14 Playoff games in 13 NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated five seasons in the CBA where he worked two Finals, and three seasons in the WNBA, working three WNBA Playoffs and Finals. He has seven years of collegiate officiating experience in various conferences (Big 12, Sun Belt, Conference USA, Southland, SEC, TAAC, OVC and SWAC), and he officiated a Southland Conference semifinal game. Collins also officiated at the high school level in Louisiana. There is very little controversy around Collins. In the Wolves game this season, most of the calls went their way and the Wolves shot 32 free throws to just 9 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 1-4 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Collins while the Nets are 0-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 29-26.