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Celtics looking for their 4th straight win as they host Cleveland Cavaliers

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The Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a home and home set as they continue to make a push for the playoffs.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

at
Cleveland Cavaliers (51-28) at Boston Celtics (37-42)
Sunday, April 12, 2015
3:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #80, Home Game #40
TV: CSN-NE, FSOhio, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/752, 754(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WTAM 1100
TD Garden
Referees: Bill Kennedy, JT Orr, James Williams


The Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a home and home set as they continue to make a push for the playoffs. On Friday, the Celtics won the first half of the home and home set 99-90. Kyrie Irving sat that game out with a sore hip and is questionable for this game. LeBron James and Kevin Love played for 3 quarters of that game but sat out the fourth.

Who plays in this game is anyone's guess at this point. After Friday's game, LeBron hinted that he would probably sit this game out but he said the same before that game as well. Kevin Love has struggled with back problems and they may want to get him a rest in this one. If Kyrie Irving really does have a sore hip, they will probably want to keep him out of this game. I've listed the regular starters minus Kyrie Irving, but chances are the starters will be completely different.

The Celtics won their 6th straight road game on Friday in Cleveland, ending the Cavs' 18 game home win streak. The Celtics haven't been as successful at home, however, having lost 4 of their last 5 games at the Garden. The Celtics are 19-20 at home while the Cavs are 22-18 on the road. The Cavs are 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10.

The Celtics remain in the 7th spot, 2 games behind the Bucks, who are holding down the 6th seed. The Nets are tied with the Celtics but are the 8th seed because the Celtics hold the tie breaker. The Pacers are 1 game back of the Celtics, with the Celtics holding the tie breaker over them as well. The Heat lost to the Raptors on Saturday and are now 2.5 games behind the Celtics.

Games to watch: Brooklyn at Milwaukee and OKC at Indiana. The Thunder are currently 9th in the West, in a tie with the Pelicans, who are the 8th seed by virtue of owning the tie breaker between them. They will be fighting hard for a win in this game. It would be nice if Milwaukee would beat the Nets and clinch the 6th seed so they would be more likely to rest their starters when they play the Celtics on the last day of the season.



Probable Starters

PG: Marcus Smart................... SG: Avery Bradley

SF: Evan Turner........... PF: Brandon Bass......... C: Tyler Zeller

Celtics Reserves

Gerald Wallace
Jae Crowder
Phil Pressey
Jared Sullinger
Kelly Olynyk
Isaiah Thomas
Jonas Jerebko
Gigi Datome

Red Claws
James Young
Chris Babb

Head Coach

Brad Stevens



Possible Starters

PG: Matthew Dellavedova................ SG: J.R.Smith

SF: LeBron James................. PF: Kevin Love ............... C: Timofey Mozgov

Cavs Reserves
Mike Miller
Tristan Thompson
Joe Harris
Matthew Dellavedova
Iman Shumpert
James Jones
Brendan Haywood
Shawn Marion
Kendrick Perkins

Injuries
Anderson Varejao (Achilles) out
Kyrie Irving (hip) questionable
Iman Shumpert (quad) questionable
Everyone else (rest) to be determined

Head Coach
David Blatt



Key Matchups
vs
Avery Bradley vs JR Smith
Smith seems the most likely starter not to sit out this game. He sat most of Friday's game and played poorly when he was in. He will probably look to have a big game in this one to make up for it. Avery needs to especially keep him from having a big night beyond the arc.

vs
Marcus Smart vs Matthew Dellavedova
Smart had a big game on Friday and the Celtics will need him to be aggressive on both ends of the court whether Dellavedova or Irving start opposite him for the Cavs.

Honorable Mention
Jared Sullinger vs Kendrick Perkins
Just because....

Keys to the Game

Defense Defense Defense!! Defense is key to winning every game. The Celtics need to continue to play tough defense. The Cavs have won 26 of their last 27 games when they reach 100 points. The Celtics are 7-34 when they allow their opponents to reach 100 points. It will be very important for the Celtics to play tough defense and keep the Cavs below 100 points

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. They must crash the boards as a team to prevent the Cavs from getting second chance and fast break points. They also need to rebound to give themselves extra possessions and to fuel their running game.

Run, Run, Run - The Celtics need to run on every possession in order to get some easy points before the Cavs defense sets up. When the Celtics walk the ball up and slow the game down they struggle. They have to run and they have to move the ball. No hero ball.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to beat the Cavs to every loose ball and win the 50/50 balla. They have to be aggressive on the boards and in driving into the paint and to the basket. They have to be the team that works harder.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They can't afford to let the Cavs get a big lead because the Cavs are a very good defensive team and it won't be easy to dig out of a hole against them. They also can't let the Cavs back in it if they can manage to build a lead.

Play Hard No Matter Who is Playing - Sometimes when a team is missing key players it seems as though the Celtics underestimate them and don't play quite as hard. There is a good chance that at least one and maybe more of the Cavs' stars will sit this one out. The Celtics have to give 100% effort no matter who is playing for the Cavaliers because even with one or two of their stars sitting, they still are a tough team to beat.

Play Like They are On the Road
- The Celtics just won their 6th straight road game. However, they have dropped 4 of their last 5 at home. The Celtics need to keep their mindset of us against the world when they play at home and get this win at home.

X-Factors
Who's Playing and Effort
A lot will depend on who the Cavs play in this game and who they sit. Sitting LeBron and Irving will definitely make it easier for the Celtics. But even if the Cavs sit some of their starters, the Celtics still need to bring their best effort. Too often when their opponent is short handed they come out playing with half effort.

Official Report

Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy’s 16 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 990 regular season, 63 playoff and five NBA Final games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has five years of officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated two games in the WNBA Finals in 1998 and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs and certainly, Kennedy hasn't forgotten. Here is how Doc described the incident:

"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. Go figure. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. With Doc out in LA, that should be in the past. He may even feel a certain kinship with the Celtics with both of them being dissed by Doc. The Celtics are 1-2 this season (Lakers and Raptors) and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Kennedy while the Cavs are 2-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10. Kennedy's home W/L record this season is 35-28.

JT Orr

J.T. Orr enters his fourth NBA season having officiated 162 regular season games. Orr’s experience includes five seasons and 177 games officiated in the NBA D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason experience and has worked in NBA summer camps for nine years. In addition to his professional experience, Orr officiated collegiate games for 13 years, working the NCAA tournament in 2011 and including service for the PAC 10/12, West Coast and Big West Conferences and multiple small college conferences. He also has 15 years of high school officiating experience. The Celtics are 3-2 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Orr as a ref. As with most refs, he can be good or bad. He has called a few one sided games where the Celtics can't get a call and others where the officiating is even. The Cavs are 2-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Orr. His home W/L record this season is 34-21.

James Williams
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 3-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Williams while the Cavs are 2-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 31-29.