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Celtics look to get back on track as they host the Sacramento Kings

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Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics welcome DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings to the TD Garden as the Celtics look to get back into the win column.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

at
Sacramento Kings (7-11) at Boston Celtics (10-8)
Friday, December 2, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #19, Home Game #9
TV: CSNNE, CSNCA, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/753(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KHTK 1140 AM
TD Garden

Referees: Jason Phillips Tony Brown, JT Orr

The Kings make their only visit to the TD Garden this season. The Kings were scheduled to play the Sixers on Monday night, but the game was cancelled due to unsafe conditions on the court. DeMarcus Cousins helped to try mopping the floor but to no avail. Hopefully they will get it fixed by Saturday when the Celtics are scheduled to visit the Sixers. Because of the wet floors, however, the Kings should be well rested for this game, having last played on November 28th.

The Kings are 4-6 in their last 10 games and 4-6 on the road. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 4-4 at home. Last season the Celtics won the series 2-0, including one game played in Mexico City as part of the NBA's Global Games. The Celtics have won 8 straight games against the Kings in Boston.

There has been much speculation as to the trade availability of DeMarcus Cousins. The Celtics would most certainly be a trade destination should he be made available. Isaiah Thomas, who was the 60th pick of the Kings in 2011 is all for bringing Cousins to the Celtics. Time will tell whether it does indeed become reality or just remains the hot rumors of the season.

Neither team is reporting any injuries. Demetrius Jackson is on assignment with the Red Claws once again. For the Kings, George Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere are all on assignment with the Reno Bighorns, the Kings' D-League affiliate.


Probable Celtics Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Isaiah Thomas / Avery Bradley / Jae Crowder / Al Horford / Amir Johnson

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

Injuries

None

D-League
Demetrius Jackson

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Kings Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Darren Collison / Arron Afflalo/ Rudy Gay/ DeMarcus Cousins/ Kosta Koufos

Kings Reserves

Matt Barnes
Omri Casspi
Willie Cauley-Stein
Ty Lawson
Ben McLemore
Garrett Temple
Anthony Tolliver

Injuries

None

D-League
Skal Labissiere
Malachi Richardson
George Papagiannis

Head Coach
Dave Joerger

Key Matchups
vs
Al Horford vs DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins is a force on both defense and offense. He is averaging 28.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. The Celtics will have their hands full trying to contain him in this game. In his last game against Washington, Cousins put up 36 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

vs
Jae Crowder vs Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay is the Kings second leading scorer behind DeMarcus Cousins. Gay is capable of putting up a lot of points in a short time. He is averaging 19.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals. Jae needs to stay with him on defense and try to limit his effectiveness.
Honorable Mention
Isaiah Thomas vs Darren Collison
Collison is averaging 12.9 points and shooting 49% from the floor and 35% from beyond the arc. He is also averaging 2.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Isaiah needs to make him work hard on the defensive end while at the same time keep him from getting the offense going for the Kings.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to put out extra effort to grab the rebounds on both ends of the court. By doing so, they limit the second chance points and fast breaks for the Kings and also give themselves extra possessions. With Cousins in the paint for the Kings the Celtics will need to put out extra effort if they want to win the battle of the boards.

Defense
- The Celtics have tried to make defense their priority this season. Defense wins games. They allowed the Pistons to shoot over 50% from the floor and that is unacceptable. They have to defend the paint to keep Cousins especially away from the basket as well as closing out on the 3 point shooters. The Celtics must toughen up as a team and play better defense if they want to get back in the win column.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after loose balls, rebounds and also be more aggressive defensively. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and also in moving the ball. The more aggressive team usually gets the calls and also the win.

Run and Move the Ball- The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and when they keep the ball moving to find the best shot. They need to run on offense to get easy shots before the Kings' defense can set up. They also need to run on defense to keep the Kings from getting into their sets and to keep them from getting easy baskets. They also have to move the ball. When they tend to dribble too much, the rest of their game seems to become stagnant.

Be Smart on Offense - The Celtics shot 42 three pointers against the Pistons and made 15 of them. The Celtics can't depend on three pointers quite so much. They need to get to the basket and look to score or get fouled. They have to get Al Horford more involved in the offense as he only took 5 shots against the Pistons and that is unacceptable.

X-Factors

Home Game - The Celtics have to take care of their home court. They are just 4-4 at home and need to play better at home. The Celtics need to get a boost from the home crowd and come out focused on protecting home court.

Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Whether because of the tendencies of individual refs, or an agenda on behalf of the refs or the league, each game is officiated differently and that can favor or throw a team off on any given night. Another way that the officiating has been an X-Factor of late is that Isaiah averaged 9.9 free throw attempts per game through thefirst 14 games and in the last 4 games, he is averaging just 4.8 free throw attemps. He is still driving to the hoop and he is still getting fouled, but the officials haven't been calling them. Hopefully that will change