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Celtics look to get back on track as they close out road trip against the Spurs

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The Celtics close their mid western road trip with their only visit to San Antonio to take on the red hot Spurs.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (13-11) at San Antonio Spurs (19-5)
Wednesday, December 14,2016
9:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #25 Road Game #15
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, FSSW
Radio: WZLX 100.7, WOAI 1200 AM
AT&T Center

Referees: Zach Zarba, Leroy Richardson, Dedric Taylor

The Celtics close their mid western road trip with their only visit to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. The Spurs are 13-1 on the road, but only 6-4 at home. The Spurs are 1-0 against the Celtics this season, having beaten the Celtics in the first meeting 109-103 at the TD Garden.

The Celtics had everyone available for that game but Jae Crowder wasn't 100% after spraining his ankle. Isaiah Thomas was playing with a sprained finger on his shooting hand and Marcus Smart was playing through a bone bruise on his ankle. The Spurs were without DeWayne Dedmon.

The Celtics will be without their All Star point guard once again as he continues to rehab a groin strain. He is hoping to be back on Friday when the Celtics return home to take on the Charlotte Hornets. The Spurs have no players listed on the injured list.

The Spurs have beaten the Celtics 10 straight times going back to the 2010-11 season when the Celtics swept the series. The Spurs are without Tim Duncan for the first time since he was drafted in 1997. That hasn't seemed to slow them down all that much, however., as they are still loaded with talent including MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard who scored a game-high 25 points along with 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks in the first game this season.


Probable Celtics Starters
PG SG SF PF C
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Al Horford
C: Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey

Injuries
Isaiah Thomas (groin) out

Head Coach

Brad Stevens


Probable Starters
PG SG SF PF C

PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Pau Gasol


Spurs Reserves

Patty Mills
Manu Ginobili
David Lee
Jonathon Simmons
Davis Bertans
Kyle Anderson
Nicolas Laprovittola
Dejounte Murray
Bryn Forbes
Dewayne Dedmon

Injuries
None

Head Coach
Gregg Popovich

Key Matchups
vs
Jae Crowder vs Kawhi Leonard
Leonard has become a star for the Spurs and is an MVP candidate this season. He leads the team in points with 24.7 points per game. He is also a top defender. This should be an interesting battle between two very tough defenders.

vs
Al Horford vs LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is averaging 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.09 blocks. Al will have his hands full with Aldridge's length and mobility. But then again, Aldridge will have his hands full trying to stay with Al as well.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Pau Gasol
Gasol is averaging 11.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.13 blocks. The Spurs are very long with Aldridge and Gasol up front and Amir and Al will have to work hard on defense to keep both big men from having a big game both on offense and on the boards.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball, and they will struggle when constantly giving up second and third chance points. The Celtics are averaging 36 rebounds per game while the Spurs are averaging 45 rebounds per game. The Celtics need to work extra hard to box out the Spurs and grab the rebounds if they want a chance at winning this game.

Defense - The Spurs have good scorers on their team up and down the roster and so the Celtics must lock down on defense if they want to get a win. The Spurs are shooting 45.8% from beyond the arc and so the Celtics must especially defend the perimeter.

Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball they get good shots and play very well. When the ball stops moving, the Celtics struggle to score and the rest of their game slows down as well. They need to keep moving the ball especially against a team like the Spurs.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to play hard and be the more aggressive team. They have to go after rebounds, loose balls, and 50/50 balls. They have to be aggressive in defense and in getting to the basket. They have to be the team that works harder and wants it more.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have lost their last two games in the final minutes of the game and were unable to make the big plays down the stretch. They have to find a way to close out games. They have to play hard from start to finish.

X-Factors
Road Game and Fatigue - The Celtics are playing the last game in their road trip and looking forward to heading home. They have to block out all distractions and focus on playing their game. Between playing on the road and having to endure a bomb scare on their plane, the Celtics may be getting a bit fatigued. They have to dig deep down and keep their focus.

Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Each crew officiates differently and sometimes, whether due to an agenda, personal preferences or league dictate, the way the game is officiated can affect one or both teams. We can only hope for a fairly officated game where they let them play.