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Celtics and Heat battle for playoff position

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This game is pretty much must win for the Celtics to stay in the playoff hunt.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (25-36) at Miami Heat (28-34)
Monday, March 9, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #62, Road Game #31
TV: CSNNE, SunSports, NBA-LP 754(DTV), 753/754(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 104.3 The Ticket
American Airlines Arena

Referees: Bennett Salvatore, David Guthrie, Marat Kogut

The Celtics face the Heat for the 3rd of 4 meetings this season. The Heat are 2-0 in the series so far. The Heat beat the Celtics 100-84 in the first meeting in December in Miami and then in February, they again beat the Celtics 83-75 in Boston. The Celtics 75 points marked the fewest points of the season for the Celtics.

This is a must win for the Celtics if they hope to get that 8th seed in the playoffs. With the Celtics loss to the Magic and a win for the Hornets on Monday night, the Celtics fell to 2.5 games behind Indiana and Miami for the 8th seed. The Celtics could make up a full game on Miami with a win in this one, or fall behind by 3.5 games. .

The Heat have several players who are questionable for this game, including 4 of their starters. Dragic (back), Deng (thigh), Haslem (knee), and Whiteside (ankle) are all questionable for this game. All but Haslem missed the Heat's last game. Napier (PG), Walker (SF), and Andersen (C) would get the start should the regular starters not be able to go.

the Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games. They are 7-5 in the second game of back to backs. They are 3-1 in the second of back to back games when both games are on the road. However, they are only 1-4 in the first game of road/road back to backs.

The Heat are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10. The Celtics are 10-20 on the road. while the Heat are 13-17 at home. The Heat are looking for their first 4 game home win streak this season. This is a crucial game for both teams' playoff aspirations.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

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Marcus Smart vs Goran Dragic

Shooting Guard

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Small Forward
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Jae Crowder vs Luol Deng

Power Forward
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Brandon Bass vs Udonis Haslem

Center
vs

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

Injuries
Avery Bradley (elbow) out
Jared Sullinger (foot) out
Evan Turner (toe) probable

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Reserves
Heat Reserves
Shabazz Napier
Chris Andersen
Tyler Johnson
Michael Beasley
Mario Chalmers
James Ennis

Injuries
Josh McRoberts (meniscus) out
Chris Bosh (blood clots) out
Luol Deng (thigh) questionable
Goran Dragic (back) questionable
Udonis Haslem (knee) questionable
Hassan Whiteside (ankle) questionable

Head Coach

Erik Spoelstra


Key Matchups

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Evan Turner vs Dwyane Wade
Wade is the Heat's leading scorer and it will be important for the Celtics to slow him down. Wade is averaging 20.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists. We may see Marcus Smart guarding Wade if he starts to get hot.

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Tyler Zeller vs Hassan Whiteside
In their last meeting, Whiteside led the Heat with Whiteside 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Zeller needs to keep Whiteside away from the paint and limit his ability to affect the Celtics shots at the basket.



Keys to the Game
Defense

Defense wins games. The Heat are allowing just 97.0 points per game while the Celtics are allowing 102.4 points per game. Defense will be a big key to getting a win.

Rebound

The Heat are dead last in the league in rebounding, pulling down 38.7 rebounds per game. Crashing the boards will give the Celtics extra possessions as well as keeping the Heat from getting fast breaks and second chance points. However, Hassan Whiteside has been cleaning up on the glass in recent games and the Celtics need to work hard to win the rebounding battle.

Be Aggressive
The Celtics have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. They have to dive for loose balls and be aggressive in crashing the boards. They can't afford to slack off or to allow the Heat to play harder than them.

Play Hard for 48 Minutes
The starters need to come out and play aggressively from the beginning and the second unit needs to come in and pick up where they leave off. They have to attack the basket and be aggressive on defense for the whole 48 minutes. No letting up. The Celtics started aggressively vs the Magic, but then they let up when they got a big lead. They need to play hard from start to finish no matter who is out for the Heat or what the score is.

Run and Take it to the Hoop
The Celtics need to run on every possession. They have the legs to keep it up and not let up and to tire the Heat out, especially if they are short handed. The Celtics also have to go to the basket and not settle for jumpers. Every game they have offensive droughts when their shots just won't go. When that happens, they have to go inside and not continue to hoist up jumpers.

X-Factors
Motivation and Fatigue

These two teams are fighting to make the playoffs. Currently, the Heat are 2.5 games up on the Celtics, but a win here for the Celtics would allow them to gain a whole game on them. They need to motivated to play harder and they need to keep their focus. The Celtics are playing in back to back games while the Heat have been off since Saturday. Fatigue could come into play down the stretch for the Celtics and possibly for the Heat if the 4 players who are questionable can't play.

Official Report

Bennett Salvatore

Bennett Salvatore - Bennett Salvatore has been an official in the NBA for the past 32 seasons, and has worked 1,764 regular season and 235 playoff games, including 25 NBA Finals games. Salvatore has also worked the 1993 and 2002 NBA All-Star Games, the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany, and the 1997 Mexico Challenge. Prior to joining the NBA, Salvatore spent two years officiating in the CBA and10 years officiating high school.

Salvatore may just be the worst ref in the league, and that is saying a lot because there are some bad ones. Almost always one team or the other gets an advantage when he is officiating and I'll give you a hint, it usually isn't the Celtics.

Salvatore made one of the most controversial calls in NBA finals history in game 5 of the 2006 finals. The call basically gave the Heat their championship. Here is Bill Simmons' take on the call.

Salvatore called the foul on Wade's final drive in overtime (remember, the call where ABC couldn't find a replay to show that anyone touched him?) even though he was standing at midcourt a full 35-40 feet from the play, and even though two other refs were closer to the play. Not only was that NOT his call, he butchered it.

Another of Salvatore's "butchered" calls was in the 2008 conference finals when he waved off a contested 3-pointer that Paul Pierce had hoisted over Richard Hamilton, inducing Hamilton to leave his feet with a ball fake and land on Pierce's back. Pierce, however, was charged with an offensive foul for creating the contact with Hamilton. It was a terrible call. The thing with Salvatore is you never know what you will get. He can be good but he can also be very, very bad. In case you don't believe me, here's a very small taste of Salvatore in action:

The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Salvatore as a referee while the Heat are 4-0 this season and 1-9 in their last 10 with Salvatore. He is probably the worst ref in the league and he's a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 19-8.

David Guthrie
David Guthrie enters his tenth season after officiating 516 regular season games and 10 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. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Guthrie. The Heat are 4-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 with Guthrie. His home W/L record is 25-22.

Marat Kogut
Marat Kogut enters his sixth year as an NBA Referee having officiated 261 games. Kogut immigrated to the United States with his family seven days after he was born. Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., he started officiating at the age of 16 at local recreational youth leagues. His professional experience includes three years in the WNBA, as well as 4 years in the NBA D-League, where he officiated over 180 games, including the Finals in his last two seasons and the 2009 D-League All-Star Game in Phoenix. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Kogut worked in several Men’s NCAA mid-major Division I conferences, including the Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun, and Big South Conferences, as well as in New York metro area high school basketball for four years.

Kogut has called games that favored the Celtics and some where the Celtics couldn't get a call and some others where they were called evenly. I guess it depends on his mood. The Celtics are 3-4 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Kogut. He called the loss to the Cavs earlier this season where the game was called evenly through 3 quarters and then completely one sided for the Cavs in the 4th quarter. He ignored a push off and elbow below the belt by LeBron on Jeff Green and instead called the foul on Green. Cleveland shot 37 free throws to 23 for the Celtics. The Heat are 1-1 this season are 8-2 in their last 10 games with Kogut. His home W/L record is 22-20.