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Celtics look to get back on track as they visit the Knicks

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The Celtics visit the NY Knicks for the 3rd of 4 meetings with this division rival this season.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (27-22) at New York Knicks (23-27)
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #50 – Road Game #26
TV: CSNNE MSG, NBA-LP 750(DTV),752(xfinity)
Radio: WZLX, ESPN NY 98.7
Madison Square Garden

Referees: Pat Fraher, Leroy Richardson, Scott Wall

The Celtics play their second straight game on the road as they visit the division rival New York Knicks. This is the third of 4 games between these two teams this season. The series is tied 1-1 with each team winning on their home court. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season. They will play one more game on March 4.

The Celtics have won 5 of their last 6 games after having their 5 game win streak snapped by the Magic. The Knicks lost 5 of their last 6. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Knicks are 3-7 in their last 10 The Celtics are 13-12 on the road while the Knicks are 14-11 at home. Both teams are coming off a loss, looking to begin a new win streak.

The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games and will complete the back to back set at home vs Detroit on Wednesday. The Celtics have dropped to 6th place in the East, tied with Chicago in 5th, who holds the tie breaker. They are 1/2 game behind Atlanta (4th) and Miami (3rd) who are also tied record wise. The Celtics are 1 game ahead of tomorrow night's opponent, Detroit, who are in 7th. The Knicks are in 10th, 4.5 games behind the Celtics.

Jae Crowder injured his shin or calf in the game vs the Magic and he sat out practice on Monday. His status for this game is questionable and he will probably be a game time decision. If he can't play, Evan Turner may get the nod to start at the three. We may see more of James Young and RJ Hunter as well.

Jose Calderon has missed the last 3 games with a groin injury and Langston Galloway has gotten the start in his absence. Calderon is questionable and will also probably be a game time decision. Cleanthony Early is out with a knee injury.

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Jared Sullinger

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


Jae Crowder (shin/calf) questionable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters

PG: Langston Galloway
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Robin Lopez

Knicks Reserves

Kevin Seraphin
Jerian Grant
Lou Amundson
Sasha Vujacic
Derrick Williams
Lance Thomas

Cleanthony Early (knee) out
Jose Calderon (groin) questionable

Head Coach

Derek Fisher

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is the leader of the Knicks and is always a handful to defend. In the first meeting between these two teams, Anthony finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. In the second meeting he played just 17 minutes before leaving with a sprained ankle. He is averaging 21.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season. The Celtics need a healthy Jae Crowder to defend him. If Jae is out, it will fall to Marcus Smart and Evan Turner to try to slow him down.

Amir Johnson vs Kristaps Porzingis
The Knicks 7'3" rookie is averaging 13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game and he has long since changed the boos he heard on draft night into cheers. His length makes him tough to handle and the Celtics will have their hands full, especially keeping him off the boards and away from the basket. In the Knicks win over the Celtics in their last game Porzingis finished with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 27 minutes before fouling out. It will be important to keep him from having another big game.

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Arron Afflalo
Afflalo is averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists and is capable of putting up big numbers if not defended well. He put up 24 points in the last meeting between these two teams, 20 of those were in the second half.

Keys to the Game
- Playing tough team defense is the key to winning every game. The Celtics need to concentrate on getting stops and keeping the Knicks' offense off balance. The Knicks average just 99.5 points per game but they allow 100.9 points per game. In the last game between these two teams, a Knicks win, the Celtics allowed the Knicks to shoot 53% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need to play tough defense to limit the Knicks scoring if they want to win this one.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They have to be more aggressive in going after loose balls, in grabbing rebounds, in defending, and in going to the basket. They have to be the team that wants it more. And they have to be more aggressive for the entire game, not just in the first half and not just in spurts.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire and when the Celtics put out the extra effort to win the battle of the boards, they seem to play better overall. They have to grab rebounds to keep the Knicks from getting out on the break and to keep them from getting second chance points.

Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, they play very well. When their assist total is high, they are tough to beat. When they start to play hero ball and stop moving the ball, they usually lose and look terrible while doing it. They need to play as a team with no hero ball.

Smart Offense - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man. They can't fall in love with three pointers. Against the Magic in the last game they shot the 3 very well at first and then they stopped falling. The Celtics fell behind after shooting and missing 5 three pointers early in the shot clock. They stopped sharing the ball and stopped getting into the paint and kept chucking from beyond the arc. They can't take quick shots instead of finding the best shot. Play team ball and if the 3's aren't falling, take it into the paint.

Revenge Factor
- The Celtics will be looking to bounce back from their poor performance in their loss to the Magic. They will also be looking to avenge the loss to the Knicks in their last meeting. Can they bounce back and get the win?

Road Factor
- The Celtics are on the road for the second straight game. Can they overcome the distractions of playing on the road and focus enough to get a win in this game?

Officiating Factor
- The officiating is always an X-Factor. You never know if a crew will call the game tight or let them play and the team has to be able to adjust to any officiating style. And you never know when a ref will have an agenda and call it one sided for one of the teams. We can only hope for an evenly called game where they let them play.

Official Report
Pat Fraher

Pat Fraher has officiated 856 regular season NBA games and 22 Playoff games entering his 15th season in the NBA. Prior to joining the NBA, Fraher officiated for seven years in the CBA, where he worked the CBA Finals and All-Star game. In addition, Fraher spent four years with the WNBA, where he officiated playoff games in both the WNBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals. Fraher also has two years of collegiate officiating experience with the NSIC and 10 years of experience as a high school official in his home state of Minnesota.

The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Fraher. He hasn't been particularly good or bad in the past and for the most part has been a decent ref other than one gave vs Cleveland in last season's playoffs where even the national TV announcers mentioned several times where LeBron was allowed to get away with travels and fouls that weren't called. The Knicks are 1-1 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games officiated by Fraher. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 22-10.

Leroy Richardson
Leroy Richardson served his country for 12 years in the United States Navy (May 1982 – January 1994), and was the 1991 and 1992 Tactragrulant sailor of the year in Dam Neck, Va. He was also awarded the Navy Achievement Medal and two Good Conduct Medals. Richardson was an enlisted surface warfare specialist and underwater sea surveillance specialist, was deployed to the Mediterranean from August 1988 through February 1989, and was stationed in Keflavik, Iceland from April 1986 through May 1987.

After leaving the Navy, Richardson decided to pursue officiating full time. Since joining the NBA staff, he has officiated 1,106 regular season games and four playoff games over the past 20 seasons, and was a member of the crews that officiated the 2000 Schick Rookie Game, 2000 NBA All-Star Saturday and the 2003 Japan Games. Richardson has three years of CBA officiating experience as well as 10 years of Pro-Am officiating experience, including the 1992 Pro-Am Nationals. He also has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big East, Southeastern and Ohio Valley Conferences. Richardson spent eight years officiating in Virginia high schools, where he worked the VHSL State Tournament.

There's not a lot of controversy surrounding Richardson and for the most part, he's been decent in calling the Celtics games. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Richardson while the Knicks are 0-2 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 with Richardson. His home W/L record is 17-15.

Scott Wall

The son of former USA Basketball Director Bill Wall, Scott Wall has officiated 1,098 regular season games and nine playoff games over his 20 NBA seasons. In addition to his NBA experience, Wall has four years of officiating experience for USA Basketball, four years of collegiate officiating experience in the Atlantic Coast, Ohio Valley, and Trans America Athletic Conferences, and five years of high school officiating experience in Kansas and Alabama.

Wall was the ref that called the clothesline on Barbosa by Bogans in the Nets game 3 seasons ago just a regular foul. Wall also officiated the Cavs game last season where they called it evenly through 3 quarters and then they gave the game to the Cavs in the 4th quarter. Wall also officiated a Warriors game last season where all the calls down the stretch went the Warriors way and even Warriors fans were surprised at all the calls going their way. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Wall while the Knicks are 4-6 in their last 10 and this is their first game this season with Wall. His home W/L record is 16-15.