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Celtics host Nets in a matinee game to begin home and home series

The Celtics will try to erase the foulness of the home loss to the Lakers with a matinee win against the Nets.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets (9-23) at Boston Celtics (18-14)
Saturday, January 2, 2016
3:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #33, Home Game #18
TV: CSNNE, YES, League Pass 751(DTV), 751(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WFAN 101.9
TD Garden

Referees: Zach Zarba, Kane Fitzgerald, Ben Taylor
The Celtics and Nets begin their second home and home series of the season. The Celtics won the first game in Boston in the earlier series by 25 points and then lost the second game 2 nights later in Brooklyn by 10 points. That 10 point victory is the Nets largest margin of victory this season. Now they start another home and home with this matinee game.

The Celtics are coming off a tough loss to the tanking Lakers which dropped them to 8th in the East. The East is tight this season and there is only a 4 game difference between the top spot and the 8th spot. The Nets have the 2nd worst record in the East, ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets have lost eight of their last 10 and are coming off a 7 point loss to the Magic on Wednesday.

The Nets have a 4-3 record against the Celtics since moving to Brooklyn but had lost 9 of the previous 10 games before the move from New Jersey. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 9-8 at home while the Nets are 3-13 on the road. The Nets have lost in three of their last four games at the TD Garden.

Amir Johnson continues to struggle with plantar fasciitis and is reportedly sleeping in a boot to ease the condition but is expected to play. The Red Claws also have a game on Saturday and it's possible that one or all of RJ Hunter, Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey may be sent to Maine for that game to give them more playing time. Marcus Smart has been coming off the bench since returning from injury but may return to the starting lineup at any time.

The Nets will be missing Rondae Hollis Jefferson (ankle) and Chris McCullough (knee). The Celtics should have extra motivation to win these next two games since they own the Nets' pick in this year's draft. The more Nets' losses, the better. They also need to redeem themselves after the pitiful showing against the Lakers.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

Isaiah Thomas vs Jarrett Jack

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Bojan Bogdanovic

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Joe Johnson

Power Forward
Amir Johnson vs Thaddeus Young

Jared Sullinger vs Brook Lopez

Celtics Reserves
Marcus Smart
Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
David Lee
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk


Amir Johnson (plantar fasciitis) probable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Nets Reserves
Andrea Bargnani
Markel Brown
Wayne Ellington
Sergey Karasev
Shane Larkin
Thomas Robinson
Donald Sloan
Willie Reed

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) out
Chris McCullough (knee) out

Head Coach
Lionel Hollins

Key Matchups
Amir Johnson vs Thaddeus Young
Young is averaging 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals. In his last game vs the Celtics he had 11 points and 12 rebounds. He can get hot and he is also a good rebounder and so the Celtics need to stay on him on defense and keep him off the boards.

Jared Sullinger vs Brook Lopez
Lopez will be a challenge for Sullinger to defend. He is averaging 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. Lopez is one of only 2 players averaging 19+ points, 8+ rebounds, and 2+ blocks. Anthony Davis is the other. Lopez had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Nets earlier win over the Celtics. Sully needs to be able to keep him away from the basket and away from his preferred spots on offense.

Honorable Mention
Isaiah Thomas vs Jarrett Jack
Jack is averaging 13.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. Jack always seems to give the Celtics problems and had 22 points in the Nets' earlier win over the Celtics. If he gets hot once again, expect to see either Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart covering him.

Keys to the Game

Defense - The Celtics need to continue to play their brand of stifling team defense. Defense wins games and the Celtics' defense will be key to getting this win. In their loss to the Lakers, they completely forgot how to play defense. In their earlier loss to the Nets, it was the lack of defense that lost that game as well. The Nets shot a season high 50.6% from the field in that game.

- The Celtics have to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle to limit the Nets' second chance points as well as to give themselves extra possessions. In the earlier loss to the Nets, the Celtics were out-rebounded 49-35. In the loss to the Lakers, they were out-rebounded 52-45. They must make an extra effort to crash the boards.

Run and Move the Ball
- The Celtics need to run on every possession and they need to keep the ball moving. When they run they can get easy shots before the Nets' defense can get set up. When they move the ball, they are much more effective in finding the open man and getting good shots.

Take Care of the Ball
- The Celtics tend to lose focus at times and turn the ball over too much. In the loss at Brooklyn, the Nets scored 25 points off of the Celtics 17 turnovers. The Celtics have to take care of the ball and make smart passes and not give the Nets extra possessions by turning it over.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team in going after loose balls, rebounds, 50/50 balls, and in going to the basket. They also have to be aggressive on defense. They have to be the team that wants it more and they have to play that way for 48 minutes.

It's the Nets - Hopefully the Celtics will respect the Nets and remember the previous loss. They should not underestimate them because of their record. They have played well enough to win 9 games, one of them against the Celtics. Hopefully they also realize the double benefit of beating the Nets to improve their lottery standing.

Officiating - Officiating is a factor in every single game played in the NBA. Every crew has their own biases and their own way of officiating and many times it affects the way the game is played. The Celtics can only hope for a well officiated game in which they let both teams play.

Official Report
Zach Zarba

Zach Zarba has officiated 764 regular season NBA games, 39 playoff games and three Finals game during his 12 year career. Prior to joining the NBA, Zarba officiated in the NBA Development League for two years, where he was part of the crew that officiated the 2003 D-League Finals. He also spent one year officiating in the CBA and two years officiating in the IBL. Zarba has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, ASUN, OVC and NEC Conferences. In addition, he has three years of high school officiating experience in New York.

The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Zarba. He called the first game of the season vs the Sixers and the officiating in that game was good. In a win over Cleveland last season, however, Zarba made 3 terrible calls down the stretch which prompted Tommy to say "Zach Zarba, every time we have this guy he makes things up." He called the game vs OKC this season and overall let them play but gave OKC the benefit on quite a few calls that even Scal mentioned. But overall, they let them play. The Nets are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Zarba. His home W/L record this season is 15-12.

Kane Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has officiated 380 games and two Playoff games in his six seasons as an NBA official. Fitzgerald started refereeing at the age of 18 at the high school level in New Jersey. Prior to the NBA, he had professional experience in the NBA D-League for four years and the WNBA for two years. He also refereed NCAA Division I basketball in the Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Big South Conferences for two years.

You may remember Fitzgerald from 4 seasons ago when he gave KG a very quick pair of technicals (from about 30 feet away) and tossed him in the 2nd quarter of the Celtics 104-101 win over the Knicks (in which Amare scored 30). In another outing that season with the Celtics, the loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte, he tossed Stephen Jackson after 2 quick questionable T's. His quickness in giving technicals dates back to his days in the D-league where he was close to the top in calling technical fouls there as well. Players need to behave themselves when he is calling the game.

You may also recall him for calling the Nets game that resulted in the brawl. Fitzgerald gave Doc a T for yelling instructions to Rondo. They let the Nets get away with pushing and shoving and hard fouls the entire first half. The Nets shot 17 free throws to 5 for the Celtics in the first half and 3 of those free throws were on technicals. They did better in the second half after the brawl, but the refs' failure to call the game evenly in the first half led to frustrations and the fight.

He called the Golden State game this season and the officiating was terrible. They gave break after break to the Warriors that had Tommy sputtering and yelling all game. After the game Evan Turner said that fouls on the Celtics and lack of fouls on Golden State made the difference in the game. Warriors fans also were commenting all game about how the refs were helping them. Golden State shot 39 free throws to 16 for the Celtics.

This is Fitzgerald's second game this season calling the Celtics game. He officiated the Celtics first road game at Indiana which was called pretty much evenly. He also called the Celtics' win over the Bucks and the refs let them play in that game and it was well officiated. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald while the Nets are 0-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. Fitzgerald calls an average of 41.5 fouls per game with 47.5% called on the home team. His home W/L record this season is 15-10.

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor enters his third NBA season having officiated 109 regular season games. Taylor joins the full-time staff after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League, already having offciated 17 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. He also serves as an FIBA International Basketball Referee.

While at Middle Tennessee State University, where he received a BA in Public Relations, Taylor was a member of the Theta Iota Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity, where he coordinated many events, headlined by the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s "Bike to Jack and Back" as the Philanthropic chair.

In a game last season against the Magic the officiating was terrible. The Celtics were mugged all night with no calls while they were called for ticky tack contact with the Magic. Orlando shot 28 free throws to 20 for the Celtics, but 6 of the Celtics' free throws were intentional fouls at the end of the game. Otherwise he wasn't bad last season.
In his only game with the Celtics this season, the loss to Dallas, the officiating was terrible. After they called 2 clean blocks by the Celtics fouls, Tommy yelled, "That's 2 strikes against them." Then after failing to call a Parsons elbow to Smart's head right in front of Taylor, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston. Here are just a couple comments from many from Mavs fans:
"Curious sequence there. Phantom foul on Bradley, Lee gets mugged - no call, and ticky tack foul on Lee"
"I'd be pissed if I was a Celtics fan at this officiating."
"I'll take the win but without the refs help, we lose this one."
The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 games with Taylor. The Nets are 0-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Taylor. His home W/L record this season is 11-11.

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