Boston Celtics (32-23) at Utah Jazz (26-27)
Friday, February 19, 2016
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #56 Road Game #29
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, ROOT, NBA-TV Canada
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KZNS, Sirius 215
Vivint Smart Home Arena
Referees: Bill Kennedy, Kevin Cutler, Kane Fitzgerald
The Celtics begin their post All-Star break 3-game Western road trip with a stop in Utah to take on the Jazz. After all the rumors and talk of big trades, the Celtics stood pat and are finishing the season with the team that got them this far, with the exception of David Lee, who was waived earlier Friday afternoon. Danny Ainge and the rest of the Celtics front office have decided to let this group see how far they can go and grow together for the rest of the season. The Jazz made a minor move to acquire Shelving Mack, the former Red Claws guard, from Atlanta for a 2nd round draft pick. Mack was also a teammate of Gordon Hayward at Butler.
Both the Celtics and the Jazz went into the break winning 8 of their last 10 games. The Jazz had won 7 straight before losing their last 2 games. The Celtics are looking for their second straight win. The Celtics are 15-13 on the road, while the Jazz have played pretty well at home with a 17-10 record. The Celtics won the season series 2-0 last season. The Celtics won 99-90 on their home court and won 85-84 on a last-second Tyler Zeller layup in Utah.
Back when the winter storm hit the Eastern coast, the Celtics and Wizards postponed games. The Celtics played theirs the next night, but the Wizards/Jazz game was postponed to Thursday after the All-Star break. That means that the Jazz are playing in the second of back-to-back games after playing in Washington on Thursday night. The Jazz are 5-6 on the second night of back-to-backs and 1-2 when the games are road/home.
The Celtics will be without Kelly Olynyk, who is still out with the shoulder injury that he suffered before the break. Originally it was diagnosed as a bruise, but Kelly got a second opinion and now it appears he will be out for a couple of weeks but will not require surgery. Jordan Mickey, back from his ankle injury, was recalled from the Red Claws on Thursday and may see some playing time with the absence of Kelly Olynyk. The Celtics waived David Lee this afternoon, and league sources have told Yahoo's The Vertical that Lee may be headed to Dallas.
For the Jazz, former Celtic Chris Johnson returned from a toe injury to play against the Wizards on Thursday and should be good to go for this game. Alec Burks (leg) and Dante Exum (knee) are both out. It is not known at this time whether Shelvin Mack will be with the team and able to play, but after turning the ball over 23 times vs. the Wizards the Jazz could definitely use another ball handler.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Jared Sullinger
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) out
PG: Raul Neto
SG: Rodney Hood
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Rudy Gobert
Chris Johnson (toe) game time decision
Alec Burks (leg) out
Dante Exum (knee) out
Jae Crowder vs Gordon Hayward
Brad Stevens' former Butler player, Gordon Hayward, is leading the Jazz with 19.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Jae should be energized by the break and by coming back with the same Celtics' group as before the break. If Jae can slow Hayward down, it will give the Celtics a good chance to grab a win in this one.
Amir Johnson vs Derrick Favors
Favors is averaging 16.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Amir needs to slow him down and make him work on both ends of the court.
Jared Sullinger vs Rudy Gobert
Gobert is averaging 10.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Jared needs to draw him away from the basket and use that bulk of his to keep Gobert out of the paint and away from his comfort zone.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort, and when the Celtics put out that effort on the boards, we see it in the other areas of the game. The Celtics are 7th in the league with 45.1 rebounds per game, while the Jazz are 21st with 42.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics need to box out and put in the effort to win the battle of the boards.
Take Care of the Ball - On the road, it's easy to lose focus and turn the ball over too much. The Celtics have to take care of the ball, make smart passes, and limit their turnovers. The Jazz average 16.1 points off of turnovers, and the Celtics don't want to give them extra points by getting careless with the ball.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics can't afford to dig a hole at the beginning of the game, and they can't let up at the end by losing focus, missing shots, and allowing the Jazz to score. They have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Defense - Defense is the key to winning each and every game. The Celtics must play the swarming team defense that they have tried to make their priority this season. Defense wins games, and proper defensive effort has to come from every player.
Play as a Team - Before the trade deadline, Jae had this to say about the Celtics' need for a superstar player: "All 5 guys on the court are so locked in, so engaged that we’re 1 superstar." The Celtics' strength is their ability to play as a team and to work together. They have to move the ball and find the open man and not lapse into hero ball.
Focus Factor and Fatigue Factor - The Celtics have been off since before the break, and hopefully they will be focused on getting back to work and getting a win in this game. They have to block out the distractions of the road if their away record is to remain above .500 for long. The Celtics have been in Utah practicing and waiting for the Jazz, while the Jazz had to travel to Washington to play the Wizards and travel back overnight. Fatigue may be a factor for them down the stretch.
Officiating Factor - 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 or to favor the home team. 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.
Bill Kennedy’s 17 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 1,056 regular season, 68 playoff and five NBA Final games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has five years of officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated two games in the WNBA Finals in 1998 and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona.
Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run-in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs. Here is how Doc described the incident:
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay, and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. With Doc out in LA, that should be in the past. He may even feel a certain kinship with the Celtics with both of them being dissed by Doc and all.
The last couple of seasons, he has been decent in the games he's called for the Celtics. This season, he called the game against the Kings in which he tossed Rondo for making an anti-gay slur toward him, possibly emulating his former coach. Kennedy calls an average of 41.4 fouls per game with 54.1% on the road team. Both teams are 1-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Kennedy. Kennedy's home W/L record this season is 25-19.
Kevin Cutler is entering his sixth NBA season after having officiated 276 games in his first five seasons. Cutler owns six years of collegiate officiating experience, including the 2009 NIT and the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Additionally, Cutler worked two NBA D-League Finals as well as the 2008 NBA D-League All-Star Game. Cutler called a game against the Pacers last season, and there was a series of terrible calls down the stretch of that game, including an out-of-bounds call that was obviously wrong and which gave the game to the Pacers. The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 2-8 over their last 10 with Cutler. The Jazz are 2-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Cutler. His home W/L record this season is 21-15.
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 Ts. 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. He can be good or bad depending on the game and the other referees calling the game with him.
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 well-officiated game. He called the game vs Sacramento, and the officiating was terrible. Here are some comments from Kings' fans about the officiating.
When the other team's fans recognize that the officiating is one-sided on their behalf, you know it's bad. Free throws in the third quarter were 17-5 in the Kings' favor. The Celtics took no free throws in either the 2nd or 3rd quarters. The Celtics are 2-3 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald while the Jazz are 2-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10. Fitzgerald calls an average of 41.5 fouls per game with 52.5% called on the road team. His home W/L record this season is 22-20.
"These refs are bad. That was definitely a foul on Rondo."
"We can use all the help we can get but I imagine Boston fans aren't too happy with the officiating today."
"I'd be furious if I was a Boston fan."