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Celtics begin home stand with a visit from the Bucks

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The Celtics host the Bucks as they begin their 5 game home stand looking for their 9th straight home win.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks (24-33) at Boston Celtics (33-25)
Thursday, February 25, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #59 – Home Game #28
TV: CSN-NE, FSN-WI, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/753(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WTMJ AM 620
TD Garden

Referees: John Goble, Pat Fraher, JT Orr

The Celtics return from their 1-2 post All Star road trip to face the Milwaukee Bucks at home. This game begins a 5 game home stand, their longest of the season to date. The series between these teams is tied at 1-1. The Celtics won 99-83 in Milwaukee in November while the Bucks won 112-111 in Milwaukee on February 9. They will meet one more time in Boston on April 3.

The Celtics are 17-10 at home and know that they need to protect their home court. The Bucks have struggled on the road with just 8 wins and 24 losses away from hom. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Bucks are 4-6 in their last 10. The Celtics have won 8 straight at home.

The Bucks are a bit short handed with Jerryd Bayless (knee), Jon Henson (back) and Greivis Vasquez (ankle) all out for this game. In addition, Damien Inglis is on assignment with the Bucks D-League affiliate. Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) will be once again out for the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas did not practice on Wednesday because of a wrist injury on his shooting hand, the same wrist that has been surgically repaired twice. Marcus Smart (thumb) and Avery Bradley (knee) have both been playing through injuries and are expected to play. James Young has been assigned to the Red Claws.

When the Bucks and Celtics last met, Jason Kidd changed up his starting lineup to move Monroe to the bench and it worked out well for that game as Monroe finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. He is expected to continue to come off the bench in this game.

Michael Carter-Williams was also moved to the bench with OJ Mayo starting in his place. Carter-Williams is 3-0 in Boston when he plays. He had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in their last meeting on February 9. The Bucks waived Chris Copeland and signed Steve Novak on February 22.

The Celtics are back in the 3rd spot after Miami's loss to Golden State on Wednesday. They are .5 games ahead of Miami and 1.5 games ahead of Indiana(5th). They are also 2 games ahead of Chicago and Atlanta and 6 games behind Toronto(2nd). Milwaukee is currently out of the playoff race in the 12th spot, 5.5 games out of 8th.

Probable Starters
Isaiah Thomas...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder...Amir Johnson...Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves
Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) out
Marcus Smart (thumb) probable
Avery Bradley (knee) probable
Isaiah Thomas (wrist) probable
James Young (D-League) out

Probable Starters
OJ Mayo ...Khris Middleton...Giannis Antetokounmpo...Jabari Parker...Miles Plumlee

Bucks Reserves
Steve Novak
Johnny O'Bryant
Greg Monroe
Rashad Vaughn
Michael Carter-Williams
Tyler Ennis


Jerryd Bayless (knee) out
John Henson (back) out
Greivis Vasquez (ankle) out
Damien Inglis (D-League) out

Head Coach

Jason Kidd

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounmpo, aka the Greek Freak, is like no other small forward in the league. He is 6'11" tall and very athletic. He is averaging 16.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game and will be a challenge for Jae to have to deal with on both ends of the court. The Bucks have been using Antetokounmpo to bring the ball up in recent games and according to coach Jason Kidd they will continue to do that in this game. He stated that they plan to get him the ball as soon as possible and then have everyone run. The Celtics have to concentrate on denying him from getting the ball.

Avery Bradley vs Khris Middleton
Middleton is a candidate for most improved this season. He is averaging 17.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and is shooting 40.1% from beyond the arc. Avery will need to stay with him on defense, especially on the perimeter because if he is left open, he will make them pay.

Honorable Mention
Jared Sullinger vs Miles Plumlee/Greg Monroe
Monroe was rumored to be considering the Celtics this summer but he instead chose the Bucks and is playing well for them. He is averaging 16.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.9 blocks. Kidd is trying to shake up the rotations by starting Plumlee, who is averaging 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10 minutes per game. Monroe is expected to come off the bench but get the majority of the minutes at center. In the 2/9 game, he also came off the bench and finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds. Sully will need to play him tough on defense to keep him from having another big game. Perhaps we will get to see Mickey get a few minutes once again.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics need to get back to what had them rolling before the break, and that is tough team defense. The Bucks average 98.6 points and allow 102.8 while the Celtics average 106.1 points and allow 102.1. After being in the top 5 on defense, the Celtics have dropped to 15th. On their 1-2 road trip, they allowed their opponents to shoot 50.9%. The Celtics are capable of so much better defense and they need to get back to playing tough defense as a team. The Celtics especially need to defend the paint as the Bucks are first in the league in scoring in the paint with 49.6 per game.

Run! - The Celtics are very effective when they run on every possession and run on defense as well. They need to run on offense to get easy shots before the defenses get set up. They also need to run on defense to get set up to prevent the Bucks from getting easy baskets. The Celtics have to utilize their depth by running the other team off the court.

Take Care of the Ball - The Bucks are very long and athletic. The Celtics need to make careful passes and take care not to allow the Bucks to force turnovers. Both teams are good at forcing turnovers and scoring off of them. The Celtics are 3rd, with 18.9 points off turnovers per game, while the Bucks are 5th with 18.5 points off turnovers per game.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. The Bucks are long and athletic and so the Celtics are going to have to work to win the battle of the boards. It takes effort to rebound and when the Celtics put out that extra effort to get rebounds, it usually translates to other areas of their game.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team from start to finish. They have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and on defense and going to the basket and grabbing rebounds. The more aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the calls also. They need to be the team that wants it more for all 48 minutes. No let up.

Play as a Team- The Celtics need to move the ball to find the open man with the best shots. They can't play hero ball as that never ends well. The Celtics struggle when they have fewer than 20 assists and they excel when they have more than 20 assists. But to get assists they also have to hit their shots along with sharing the ball. If the 3's aren't falling they need to get into the paint.


Back Home - The Celtics are back home and have had 2 days off after their road trip. They have had enough time to shake off the rust from the All Star break and they should be ready to defend home court in this one. They should get a boost from the home crowd as well.

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. The Celtics have to be able to shake off bad calls and just play their game.

John Goble
John Goble enters his ninth season having officiated 514 regular season games and 28 playoff games. He also officiated the 2010 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophmore game. Prior to working in the NBA, Goble officiated 104 games over four seasons in the NBA D-League and was selected to officiate the 2007 Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southeastern Conference, where he was a tournament official in 2006 and 2007, and the Sunshine State Conference.

In the past, Goble has been good in some games and terrible in others. He was the referee who called the clothesline on Barbosa in a Nets game 3 seasons ago a regular foul. He also called a foul at the end of that game on an obvious clean steal that could have changed the outcome of the game. In a Clippers game two seasons ago, he ignored fouls by the Clippers and called phantom fouls on the Celtics all game. Tommy made the comment that the Celtics had no shot to win after the officiating took over. Last season, against the Timberwolves, the officiating was terrible and the Wolves shot 32 free throws to 9 for the Celtics.

In the last game he called for the Celtics last season against the Pacers, there were quite a few head scratching calls prompting Tommy to yell "That's terrible" several times. This season at Detroit, the officiating was pretty good and they let them play with 25 free throws for the Pistons and 23 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Goble and the Bucks are 2-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 24-23.

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 2-0 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. In a game vs the Knicks this season, the officiating was bad both ways. They called 2 very questionable flagrant fouls - one on Carmelo Anthony and one on Amir Johnson. The officiating was bad both ways but the Knicks got the slight better of it. 28 free throws for the Knicks to 17 for the Celtics. The Bucks are 3-2 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games officiated by Fraher. His home W/L record this season is 23-16.

JT Orr
J.T. Orr enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 162 regular season games. Orr’s experience includes five seasons and 177 games officiated in the NBA D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason experience and has worked in NBA summer camps for nine years. In addition to his professional experience, Orr officiated collegiate games for 13 years, working the NCAA tournament in 2011 and including service for the PAC 10/12, West Coast and Big West Conferences and multiple small college conferences. He also has 15 years of high school officiating experience.

The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Orr as a ref. As with most refs, he can be good or bad. He has called a few one sided games where the Celtics can't get a call and others where the officiating is even. In a game vs Memphis this season, the refs were terrible in the 4th quarter. There were a lot of bad calls going the Grizzlies' way. Clear goal tending and foul calls were ignored while phantom fouls were called on the Celtics. Ignored a 5 step travel on Gasol right in front of the ref. The Grizzlies shot 40 free throws to 23 for the Celtics. He hasn't been particularly bad in the rest of his games with the Celtics, however. The Bucks are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Orr. His home W/L record this season is 23-16.