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Celtics continue road trip with a stop in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies

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The Celtics continue their road heavy December schedule with a stop in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (15-12) at Grizzlies (18-11)
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #28, Road Game #17
TV: CSNNE, FSSE, NBA-LP 761 (DTV),757 (Xfinity)
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, 92.9 FM ESPN
Fed Ex Forum

Referees: Mike Callahan, Jacyn Goble, Ben Taylor

The Celtics continue their road heavy December schedule and their current road trip with a stop in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. This is the first of two meetings this season. They will meet again in Boston on December 27. Last year the season was tied 1-1, with each team winning on their home floor.

The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Grizzlies are 7-3 in their last 10. The Celtics are 9-7 on the road while the Grizzlies are 11-6 at home. The Celtics have won their last two games - one at home and one on the road. The Grizzlies have lost their last two games - both at home.

The Grizzlies are definitely a team that the Celtics need to take seriously. They have already beaten the Warriors by 21 points and they also beat the Cavaliers by 8 points. But then again, their last 2 losses were against the Kings and the Jazz. The Grizzlies are trending up with a 14-6 record since November 14.

Chandler Parsons (knee) is listed as questionable, but he practiced with the team on Monday and so it's probable that he will return for this game unless there were complications. Deyonta Davis (foot) and Brandon Wright (ankle) are listed as out. Wade Baldwin is on assignment with the D-League affiliate. Gerald Green (hamstring) is day to day.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Mike Conley

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs Troy Daniels

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Tony Allen

Power Forward
vs
Al Horford vs JaMychal Green

Center
vs
Amir Johnson vs Marc Gasol

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

Injuries
Gerald Green (hamstring) day to day

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Reserves
Vince Carter
Andrew Harrison
Zach Randolph
Troy Williams
James Ennis
Jarell Martin

Injuries
Wade Baldwin (d-league assignment) out
Deyonta Davis (foot) out
Brandon Wright (ankle) out
Chandler Parsons (knee) questionable

Head Coach
David Fizdale

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Mike Conley
Mike Conley is having a career year for the Grizzlies and will be a tough matchup for Isaiah Thomas. Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart should be on him defensively and we may see a shoot out between the two high scoring point guards. Conley is averaging 18.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

vs
Amir Johnson vs Marc Gasol
Gasol is averaging 19.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. The 7'1" Gasol has a height advantage and he also has been having a career year. He is very capable of having a big game if the Celtics don't defend him well.

Honorable Mention

Jae Crowder vs Tony Allen
Tony Allen always loves playing against his former team and usually has a big game against them. He is averaging 10.2 points, 5.3 rebound and 1.0 assists per game. He has always been a lock down defender and that won't change in this game. Whoever he guards is in for a long night.

Zach Randolph vs Jonas Jerebko (or Kelly Olynyk)
Zach Randolph has been coming off the bench and is settling into the 6th man role quite well. He is averaging 13.3 points and 8.2 rebounds. The Celtics' big men off the bench have to be ready to bang inside against him as he is very tough once he gets into the paint.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always key to getting a win. The Celtics must defend especially in the paint where the Grizzlies can be very dangerous. The Celtics must make defense a priority against the Grizzlies, who have the league's best defensive rating at 99.3. It will be tough for the Celtics to score against the Grizzlies and so they must make it equally difficult for the Grizzlies to score against them.

Set the Pace - The Grizzlies pride themselves on playing with grit and grinding out wins. The Celtics play best when they run and open up the floor for their shooters. The Celtics need to push the pace and run on every possession to get easy scores before the Grizzlies' defense gets set up and to keep the Grizzlies from getting easy scores.

Play 48 Minutes - This follows setting the pace. The Celtics can't just run half the game. They have to run for the entire game. They also can't let up down the stretch and have to focus especially at the end of the game. The Celtics have had a tendency to get a lead and then let up. If they allow the Grizzlies to stay close, they can be very dangerous. They have the league's best record of 12-1 in games decided by 3 points or less and have won their last 12 games decided by 5 points or less.

Rebound - Crashing the boards won't be all that easy with Randolph and Gasol crowding the paint. But the Celtics must put out extra effort to grab as many rebounds as they can because they have to get the ball in order to score and they must keep the Grizzlies from scoring easy second chance points.

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. The Grizzlies are a grind it out team and pride themselves on playing with grit. The Celtics must match their grit and be willing to grind it out themselves.

X-Factors
On the Road and Fatigue

The Celtics are playing in their second straight road game and their 4th in the last 5 games. They have had a road heavy schedule in the month of December, and all that travel has to wear on a team after awhile. They have to dig deep and play with energy and they have to block out the distractions of playing on the road and focus on getting a win in this game.


Officiating

Officiating is always an x-factor. At times they call the game even and let them play. Other times they call the game one sided or call every little touch foul and that takes all of the flow out of the game. Every crew has it's own identity and that can change the flow and outcome of the game. The Celtics play best when the refs allow them to play and call the game fairly. They have to adjust to the way the game is being called.