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Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers return to the Garden as Celtics host the Clippers

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Celtics look to go into the All Star break on a high note as they host Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers.

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

at
Los Angeles Clippers (34-17) at Boston Celtics (31-23)
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #55, Home Game #27
TV: CSNNE, PrimeTicket, NBA-LP 757(DTV), 754(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, The Beast 980 KWKW, Sirius 215
TD Garden
Referees: Derrick Stafford, Bennie Adams, Scott Twardoski

Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers visit the Celtics for the first of 2 games between these two teams this season. They will meet again on March 28th in Los Angeles to complete the season series. The Clippers swept the Celtics in the last two seasons. Paul Pierce should receive a warm welcome from the Garden fans in what might be his last game in Boston. Doc Rivers, maybe not so much.

The Clippers come into this game as the final game on a 4 game road trip. They are 3-0 so far, beating Philadelphia, Miami and Orlando. This is the final game before the All Star break for both teams. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games, having lost to the Bucks on the road on Tuesday. The final game on a road trip is usually the most difficult for teams to get up for, but I have a feeling that Doc and Pierce have their team up for this one.

The Celtics are 9-3 in games on the back end of back to back games. They are 4-1 in games when the games are road/home. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Clippers are 7-3 in their last 10. The Celtics are 16-10 at home while the Clippers are 17-9 on the road. The Celtics are on a 7 game home win streak.

In spite of the loss, the Celtics remain in 3rd place, 1 game ahead of both Miami (4) and Atlanta (5) and 2 games ahead of Indiana, who are in the 6th spot. They are also 5.5 games behind the Raptors for the 2nd spot. The Clippers are in the 4th spot in the West.

The Clippers will be without their usual starting All Star power forward, Blake Griffin, who is out with a broken hand that he suffered when he punched a Clippers' equipment guy. Paul Pierce will probably replace him in the starting lineup. Also out is Austin Rivers, who was a Celtic for about a minute or two in between trades. He is also out with a broken hand.

For the Celtics, Jordan Mickey is still out with the high ankle sprain that he suffered on January 16. Jae Crowder is also dealing with a high ankle sprain that happened with 4:04 left in Wednesday's win over the Detroit Pistons. He finished the game and played with the injury against the Cavaliers and is expected to play in this game as well.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Chris Paul

Shooting Guard
vs
Avery Bradley vs JJ Redick

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Luc Mbah a Moute

Power Forward
vs
Amir Johnson vs Paul Pierce

Center
vs
Jared Sullinger vs DeAndre Jordan


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

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Injuries

Jordan Mickey (ankle) out
Jae Crowder (high ankle sprain) probable


Clippers Reserves
Cole Aldrich
Jeff Ayres
Jamal Crawford
Brandon Dawson
Wesley Johnson
Pablo Prigioni
Lance Stephenson
CJ Wilcox

Injuries
Blake Griffin (hand/quad) out
Austin Rivers (hand) out

Head Coach

Doc Rivers

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Chris Paul
Paul is considered to be one of the top PG's in the NBA and will be a tough cover for Isaiah on defense. If Paul starts to have a big game, expect to see Jae or Marcus Smart on Paul, who is averaging 19 points, 9.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.

vs
Avery Bradley vs JJ Redick
Redick is shooting the ball very well and is averaging 16.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. He is shooting 48% from beyond the arc and 47% from the field. Avery will need to play tough defense on him to keep him from having a big game.

Honorable Mention
Jared Sullinger vs DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is tough inside on the boards and on defense. He is averaging 12.0 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. He is also shooting 72% from the field. Jared has done well against opposing big men in recent games and he needs to continue to play hard and defend them well in this game.

Brad Stevens vs Doc Rivers
The new coach vs the previous coach. Doc won the first four meetings with his former team. Can Brad get the upper hand in this one?



Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games and the Celtics need to continue to play tough team defense. The Clippers average 104.3 points per game and so the Celtics will need to slow them down and not get into a shoot out with them.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and so the Celtics must put out the extra effort on the boards to give themselves extra possessions as well as to limit the Clippers fast break opportunities and second chance points. The Clippers will easily turn rebounds into points. The Celtics are 6th in the league with 45.2 rebounds per game while the Clippers are 24th at 42.1 rebounds per game. Doc never did put a priority on rebounding.

Energy and Effort - The Celtics have to come out with energy and have to play harder than the Clippers. Anything less than 100% effort from every Celtic will be needed to get a win in this one. They are capable of playing well enough to beat the Clippers, but they can't come out with less than their best. They have to be the more aggressive team and be the team that wants it more. The Celtics looked like they were running in sand during much of the game vs the Bucks. If they play like that against the Clippers, they will lose by double digits.

Take Care of the Ball
- The Celtics need to move the ball to find the open man but they need to make careful passes and not turn the ball over. They had 18 turnovers in against the Bucks and that was a big reason they had to fight back from a 19 point deficit in the 4th quarter. They can't turn the ball over that many times and hope to win against the Clippers.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics seem to play very well at times, sometimes starting off strong and sometimes finishing strong. But then at other times, they seem to fade away and can't seem to do anything right. They have to make an effort to play hard and keep their focus from the starting tip until the final buzzer. They lost their focus in the 3rd quarter vs the Bucks and that cost them the game. They have to keep their focus and make their shots and keep the ball moving.

X-Factors
Home and Fatigue - The Celtics are at home and should get a boost from the home crowd. However, the Celtics played a tough game in Milwaukee on Tuesday night and then had to travel after the game. They usually are tough in back to back games but fatigue could slow them down. In the meantime, the Clippers were in Boston resting on Tuesday night and should be ready to go for this one.

Officiating - The officiating is an x factor for every game. Every officiating crew calls games differently. Some call every little foul making it difficult to get any rhythm and some let the teams play. Some refs have an agenda and call the game for or against a particular team or player. And there are always star calls no matter who the referees are. Regardless of how the game is called, the Celtics need to play through it and keep their focus.

Official Report
Derrick Stafford

Over his 27 NBA seasons, Derrick Stafford has worked 1,595 regular season, 135 playoff, and nine Finals games. He was a member of the crews that officiated the 1992 Legends All-Star Game in Orlando, the 1997 McDonald’s Championship in Paris and the 2002 NBA All-Star Game. The 24-year NBA officiating veteran has also served twice on the Executive Board of the National Basketball Referee Association. Stafford has six years of CBA officiating experience, and he officiated Pro-Am basketball for six years. He also has seven years of collegiate officiating and 10 years of high school officiating experience in Georgia where he worked the state finals. While at Morehouse College he played football for two years and baseball for four. Stafford made All Conference three years in baseball and led the confereence in hitting in 1978. He was also co-most valuable player in baseball with NFL referee Jerome Boger in 1976. Stafford is the founder and president of his own foundation, "Don’t Foul Out, Inc.".

Stafford is known to be quick to call technical fouls. Pat Riley and Stafford have a bit of bad blood between them. Back in 2003 when Riley was coaching, he accused Stafford of shouting "It's not about you" and some other stuff at Riley when Riley complained excessively about the calls. Stafford was suspended for 2 games as a result. Stafford was also fined as a result of a complaint that Lawrence Frank made when he was coach of the Nets. A ref has to be pretty bad to be suspended or fined for an incident since the league usually feels that they can do no wrong. I found 4 other articles detailing complaints about Stafford for his actions or comments. It seems that Mr Stafford has been a hot head who loves to lash out at players and coaches who question him. Hopefully he has mellowed a bit, but Brad Stevens' calm demeanor should be a benefit when dealing with him.

The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 3-7 over the last 10 games with Stafford on the court. For the most part, Stafford has allowed the teams to play and called the games decently. However, two seasons ago, in a loss to the Lakers, the officiating was terrible and the Celtics shot just 5 (yes, that's FIVE) free throws to 20 for the Lakers and this season he called a win over Atlanta and the officiating favored Atlanta with 20 free throws for the Hawks to 12 for the Celtics but they mostly let them play. He can be good and he can be bad depending on the game. The Clippers are 2-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Stafford. He averages 38 fouls per game with 50.5% called on the home team. He is one of the few refs who tend to favor the road team with a home W/L record this season of 16-23.

Bennie Adams
A former math instructor at Southern University, Bennie Adams joined the NBA officiating staff 21 seasons ago, and since then has officiated 1,171 regular season and nine Playoff games In addition, he has been a USA Basketball official since 1995. Adams has also officiated the 2008 NBA Europe Live Tour and the 2002 NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge. Adams officiated in the CBA for three years, and worked the 1996 CBA Finals. He also has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Trans America Athletic and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. Adams also has 10 years of high school officiating experience in Louisiana. Adams has both a Masters and Bachelors degree in mathematics from Southern University.

Adams tends to be inconsistent especially on charge/block calls. He is on Tommy Heinsohn's naughty list (along with a lot of others). In one game, Tommy went ballistic yelling at the top of his lungs "GO BACK TO YOUR MOMMA BENNIE ADAMS!!!" However, he hasn't been particularly bad in recent games with the Celtics. Adams calls an average of 42.6 fouls per game and tends to let them play for the most part. 49.2% of those fouls are on the home team. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Adams. The Clippers are 3-1 this season and 9-1 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 21-13.

Scott Twardoski
Scott Twardowski enters his 5th year as an NBA Referee having officiated 219 regular season games. Twardowski’s experience includes six seasons and 206 games officiated in the D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason game experience and worked in NBA summer camps for eight years. He also has seven seasons of WNBA experience, working both the All-Star game and Finals. In addition to his professional experience, Twardoski officiated collegiate games for 12 years in the Pac 10, Big 12, Big Sky and West Coast Conferences and has 10 years of high school officiating experience. Twardoski worked as a teacher for five years in the 16th School District, Covington, AZ.

Twardoski has called some games that seem to favor the Celtics and some that seem to favor the opponents. None stand out as being obviously one way or the other in the extreme. There's not much controversy in his career so far. He calls an average of 40.7 fouls per game with 49.5% called on the home team. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Twardoski. The Clippers are 0-3 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Twardoski. He calls an average of 40.7 fouls per game with 49.5% called on the home team. His home W/L record this season is 26-17.