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Celtics are back (to back) on the court as they visit the Toronto Raptors

The Celtics are back on the court tonight in yet another must win game as they visit the division leading Toronto Raptors.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (34-42) at Toronto Raptors (45-31)
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Regular Season Game #77, Road Game #38
TV: CSNNE, Sportsnet 360, NBA-LP 756(DTV), 752(Xfinity)
Radio: WZLX 100.7, Sportsnet 590
Air Canada Centre

Referees: Tom Washington, Brent Barnaky, Scott Wall

The Celtics visit the Toronto Raptors for the 3rd of 4 games this season. The Raptors are up 2-0 in the series so far this season. They beat the Celtics 110-107 on 11/5 in Boston and 109-96 on 1/10 in Toronto. They will meet one more time on April 14.

Both teams are coming off of losses on Friday night and both teams had to travel overnight. The Raptors lost to the Nets in Brooklyn while the Celtics lost to the Bucks at home. The Raptors are 9-7 in the second of back to back games. The Celtics are 11-5 on the second night of back to back games. They have won their last 6 games in that situation and are 9 of their last 10. Kelly Olynyk is returning to his home stomping grounds and will hopefully have a big game.

Kyle Lowry missed the game against Brooklyn on Friday night with back spasms. He is expected to miss this game as well with Greivis Vasquez getting the start in his place. Amir Johnson left Friday night's game with an ankle injury and is listed as doubtful. Patrick Patterson is expected to get the start at the power forward if he can't go. The Celtics got Jared Sullinger back Friday for the Bucks' game and he played just 3+ uneventful minutes and it will take a bit for him to get his timing and conditioning back.

Both teams are fighting for playoff position. The Raptors are currently the 4th seed and are 1/2 game behind the Bulls who moved into 3rd with the Raptors loss to the Nets. The Celtics are currently in the 9th spot, 1/2 game behind the Heat, who are in the 8th and final playoff spot. They are also 1.5 games behind Brooklyn, who moved up to the 7th seed with their win over the Raptors. Indiana is 1 game behind Boston and Charlotte is 1.5 games back.

Games to keep an eye on: Philadephia at Charlotte, Brooklyn at Atlanta, Miami at Detroit. Atlanta has been resting their starters and so that is something to watch for. Dwyane Wade left the Heat's last game vs Cleveland and is listed as day to day. His status is an x-factor for that game. Charlotte should get an easy win at Philadelphia.

Marcus Smart...Avery Bradley...Evan Turner...Brandon Bass...Tyler Zeller

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


Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Greivis Vasquez...DeMar DeRozan...Terrence Ross...Patrick Patterson...Jonas Valanciunas

Raptors Reserves
Bruno Caboclo
Landry Fields
Tyler Hansbrough
Chuck Hayes
James Johnson
Lucas Nogueira
Greg Stiemsma
Lou Williams

Kyle Lowry (back) out
Amir Johnson (ankle) doubtful

Head Coach
Dwane Casey

Key Matchups
Avery Bradley vs DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is capable of putting up a lot of points in a short time. He is averaging 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals. Avery will need to work on defense to keep him from having a big game.

Tyler Zeller vs Jonas Valanciunas
Valanciunas is tough in the paint on both ends. He is averaging 12.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Tyler needs to try to keep him out of the paint and away from the basket.

Honorable Mention
Isaiah Thomas vs Lou Williams
Williams is the Raptors' offensive threat off the bench and is capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry. Williams ranks first among all reserves in the NBA for total points (1,141), three pointers made (139), free throws made (314), and 25+ point games (9). He also ranks second among reserves with 83 steals. Williams is averaging a career best 15.2 points this season. Isaiah Thomas can fill the same role for the Celtics and hopefully he has a better night than Williams.

Keys to the Game

Defense has always been and always will be the key to winning. It was the Celtics defense that fueled the wins over The Hornets and the Pacers. When they play tough defense it also brings more energy to their offense. The Raptors are 4th in the league in scoring at 104.2 points per game so it will be very important to bring tough defense right from the start and keep it up throughout the game. They have to play better defense in this game than they did against the Bucks.

Be Aggressive
The Celtics must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, in crashing the boards, and just all around going all out. They have to aggressively attack the basket. They need to start the game with that aggressive attitude and be aggressive through the whole game with no let up.

The Celtics must crash the boards. They can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to be the team that puts out more effort from every player to go after rebounds.

Run and Set the Pace
The Celtics need to run on every possession and get up the court before the defenses get set up. Both teams are playing in back to back games and the Celtics are young enough to keep the Raptors moving and tire them out by the end of the game. The Celtics play much better when they run on every possession.

Move the Ball
The Celtics have to keep the ball moving and find the open man. They also have to keep their focus and avoid bad passes and turnovers. When the Celtics keep the ball moving good things happen. When they over-dribble and slow it down, their offense gets stagnant.

Focus and Team Play
The Celtics need to come into the game focused and they need to keep that focus. They can't let the hostile crowd affect their game. They have to focus on hitting their shots and not allow their focus to waiver as they tend to do at times. They also have to play as a team and not lapse into hero ball.

Back to Back on the Road and the Officiating

Both teams are playing in back to back games. The Celtics have been very good in these situations and they need to continue to make this work for them. Also, they are on the road and can't let that affect their focus. As we saw in the last game, the officials can have a great deal to do with winning or losing a game. For some reason the refs missed some head scratching calls that could have changed the ending of that game. Hopefully the Celtics get a fair shake in this one.

Official Report

Tom Washington

Over his 23-season NBA officiating career, Tom Washington has officiated 1,372 regular season games, 116 playoff games and four Finals games. He was a member of the crews that officiated the 1995 Schick Rookie Game, the 1996 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game. In addition to his 23 seasons with the NBA, Washington has two years of CBA officiating experience. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience in Division II and III, and five years of
high school officiating experience in his hometown of Philadelphia, officiating in the playoffs for both the men’s and women’s leagues.

There are two very badly called games that Washington called come to mind. In a loss to the Pistons three seasons ago, Detroit shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics, Rondo was ejected, and Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game all season (are you cringing yet?). In Game 2 vs the Heat in the 2012 playoffs, the Heat shot 47 free throws to 29 for the Celtics, in spite of the Celtics attacking the basket all night. There were bad calls throughout the 4th quarter and OT, all in the Heat's favor. Pierce, Pietrus, and Dooling all fouled out. LeBron was given 24 free throws all by himself. This season in a game vs the Magic, he was terrible. There was a flagrant 2 call on Smart, which was later downgraded. There was also a terrible flagrant 1 call on Isaiah Thomas that was also later downgraded. The officiating was one sided in Orlando's favor all game. Orlando shot 30 free throws to 16 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Washington. The Raptors are 5-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10. His home W/L record is 37-27.

Brent Barnaky
Brent Barnaky enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 207 NBA games. Barnaky came to the NBA with 10 years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern Conference, Big East, Conference USA and other college conferences as well. He completed three years of postseason officiating in the NIT (2008-2010). He officiated the 2008, 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Playoffs, and the 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Finals.
As with many of the refs, Barnaky can be good or very bad. The Celtics have had a couple of memorable games with Barnaky in the past. In a loss to the Pistons two seasons ago that Tommy Heinsohn called the worst officiated game all season, Rondo was ejected and the Pistons shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics. In a game vs the Bucks last season, he allowed the Bucks to mug the Celtics all game and called ticky tack fouls on the Celtics but when the Celtics tried to commit an intentional foul to stop the clock, they wouldn't call it. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and they are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Barnaky while the Raptors are 4-1 this season and also 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 33-26.

Scott Wall

The son of former USA Basketball Director Bill Wall, Scott Wall has officiated 1,039 regular season games and nine playoff games over his 19 NBA seasons. In addition to his NBA experience, Wall has four years of officiating experience for USA Basketball, four years of collegiate officiating experience in the Atlantic Coast, Ohio Valley, and Trans America Athletic Conferences, and five years of high school officiating experience in Kansas and Alabama.

Wall was the ref that called the clothesline on Barbosa by Bogans in the Nets game 2 seasons ago just a regular foul. Wall also officiated the Cavs game this season where they called it evenly through 3 quarters and then they gave the game to the Cavs in the 4th quarter. Wall also officiated the last Warriors game where all the calls down the stretch went the Warriors way and even Warriors fans were surprised at all the calls going their way. The Celtics are 2-4 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Wall while the Raptors are 2-1 this season 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 30-24.

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