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Celtics look for payback as they host the Utah Jazz

The Celtics continue their homestand as they look to even the series with the Utah Jazz.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Utah Jazz (28-30) at Boston Celtics (35-25)
Monday, February 29, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #61 Home Game #30
TV: CSN-NE, ROOT, NBA-LP 752(DTV), 752(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KZNS,Sirius 216
TD Garden

Referees: Zach Zarba, Matt Boland, David Jones

The Celtics continue their homestand as they look to even the series with the Utah Jazz. The Celtics played the Jazz on the road in the first game after the All-Star break. The Jazz embarrassed the Celtics with a 111-93 loss. The Celtics have won 3 of 4 games since that game, but avenging that 18 point loss is certainly still on their minds.

The Celtics are 19-10 at home and have won 10 straight at the Garden. The Jazz are 9-18 on the road and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are looking for their 3rd straight win while the Jazz are looking to get back on track after losing their last two games. The Celtics won the series 2-0 last season. The Jazz are coming off a loss to the Nets, and so the Celtics definitely owe them a beatdown not only for the loss in Utah, but for giving the Nets another win as well.

The Jazz start Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward, both of whom played for Brad Stevens at Butler. Alec Burke (fibula) and Dante Exum (ACL) are both out for the Jazz. Kelly Olynyk is improving but still out with the shoulder injury. Avery Bradley was already playing with a sore knee before rolling his ankle in the Celtics game against the Heat. He is listed as day-to-day. Marcus Smart (thumb), Isaiah Thomas (wrist) and Jonas Jerebko (ankle) have all been playing with various injuries and are expected to play.

With their win on Saturday, the Celtics moved 2 games ahead of the Heat for the 3rd spot in the East. The Heat beat the Knicks on Sunday to move 1.5 games behind the Celtics. Boston is also 2 games ahead of the fifth-place Hawks and 3.5 games ahead of the sixth-place Pacers. The Celtics are 5 games behind the Raptors for the 2nd spot. Utah is half a game out of the 8th spot in the West.

The Celtics got some breathing room with their win over the Heat, but they have to win this one in order to keep it. The Heat just signed Joe Johnson and may get Chris Bosh back, so they are in a good position to keep up with the Celtics. The Celtics need to win the games they should. The Jazz are fighting to make the playoffs and will be playing hard, so the Celtics need to be ready for a good game from Utah.

And now, just a couple of random game notes. Today is leap day and it comes around once every four years. The Celtics are are 8-1 all time when playing on leap day. James Young has been recalled from the Red Claws in time for tonight's game. It is unclear at this point whether Young's call-up has any bearing on Avery's status for this game.

Probable Starters

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

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

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) out
Avery Bradley (knee/ankle) day to day
Isaiah Thomas (wrist) expected to play
Marcus Smart (thumb) expected to play
Jonas Jerebko (ankle) expected to play

Probable Starters

PG: Shelvin Mack
SG: Rodney Hood
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Rudy Gobert

Jazz Reserves

Trey Burke
Joe Ingles
Trey Lyles
Tibor Pleiss
Jeff Withey
Raul Neto
Chris Johnson

Trevor Booker
Alec Burks (leg) out
Dante Exum (knee) out
Trevor Booker (personal) out

Head Coach
Quin Snyder

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs Gordon Hayward
Brad Stevens' former Butler player, Gordon Hayward, is leading the Jazz with 20 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. In their first meeting, Hayward put up 22 points. Jae should be energized to get the win in this one and keep Hayward from having another big game. 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 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. In the first game between these teams, Favors was a beast with 23 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks. The Celtics must find a way to slow him down in this one if they want to get a win.

Honorable Mention

Jared Sullinger vs Rudy Gobert
Gobert is averaging 10.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. In the first game he finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds and 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 averaging 44.9 rebounds per game while the Jazz are averaging 42.7 rebounds per game. In their first meeting, the Celtics were out-rebounded 51-34. They can't win if they give the opponent that many extra possessions. The Celtics need to box out and put out the effort to win the battle of the boards.

Take Care of the Ball - 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. The Celtics can't lose focus and give the Jazz a chance to get easy points.

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. The Jazz are a very good defensive team, allowing just 97.1 points per game, good for 2nd in the league. The Celtics have let their defense slip and are not 13th in the league, allowing 102 points per game. Defense wins games and the Celtics must get back to playing that tough swarming TEAM defense that was their trademark earlier in the season.

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. If they stay together and play as one, they can pretty much beat any team.

Go to the Hoop
- The Celtics are 5th in the league in points in the paint with 45.1. The Jazz are averaging 41.4 points in the paint. However, the Celtics were outscored in the paint by the Jazz 44-30 in their first meeting. The Celtics have to go to the hoop and not settle for outside shots, especially if they aren't falling.

Revenge Factor - The Celtics should be focused and ready to avenge the loss against the Jazz after the All-Star break. They need to watch film, find what they did wrong, and correct it in this game. The Celtics need to come out focused and start strong and play hard throughout the game.

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. 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
Zach Zarba

Zach Zarba has officiated 764 regular season NBA games, 39 playoff games and three Finals game during his 12-year career. Prior to joining the NBA, Zarba officiated in the NBA Development League for two years, where he was part of the crew that officiated the 2003 D-League Finals. He also spent one year officiating in the CBA and two years officiating in the IBL. Zarba has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, ASUN, OVC and NEC Conferences. In addition, he has three years of high school officiating experience in New York.

The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Zarba. He called the first game of the season vs the Sixers and the officiating in that game was good. In a win over Cleveland last season, however, Zarba made 3 terrible calls down the stretch which prompted Tommy to say "Zach Zarba, every time we have this guy he makes things up." He called the game vs OKC this season and overall let them play but gave OKC the benefit on quite a few calls that even Scal mentioned. But overall, they let them play.

In the loss to the Nets this season, there were a lot of bad calls going both ways. They called a lot of ticky tack contact and there was no flow to the game but the officiating didn't favor either team. Against the Magic this season there were a lot of questionable calls. Evan Turner was ejected after complaining about a series of bad/no calls. Isaiah fouled out for the first time in his career. Jonas Jerebko also fouled out. Orlando shot 35 free throws to 25 for the Celtics. The Jazz are 3-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Zarba. His home W/L record this season is 28-20.

Matt Boland

Entering his 14th season as an NBA official, Matt Boland has worked 653 regular season games. Prior to joining the NBA, he spent seven years officiating in the CBA, including the 1999, 2000 and 2001 CBA Finals. He also
officiated for five years in the WNBA and worked the 2002 and 2003 WNBA Finals, as well as two years in the NBA D-League, working the 2003 Finals. Boland also has five years of USBL officiating experience, including the 1997 USBL Finals. Boland officiated at the collegiate level for four years, working in the MAAC, Ivy, Northeast, TAAC and OVC Conferences. He also has high school officiating experience in his home state of Connecticut and worked two State Finals games in 1997 and 1998.

Boland, along with Scott Foster, was questioned by the FBI in regard to the Tim Donaghy case after it was found that Donaghy often phoned Boland on game days. The FBI cleared both Boland and Foster of involvement in that betting scandal, but that doesn't mean much. In a game last season vs the Bulls, the officiating was totally one sided with the Celtics taking 11 free throws to 40 for the Bulls. Tommy said this about it: "This was an abomination. It wasn't even close to a decently officiated game." The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Boland while The Jazz are 3-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. Boland's home W/L record this season is 20-20.

David Jones
David Jones has officiated 1,556 regular season games and 71 playoff games throughout his 26 seasons as an NBA official. In addition, Jones officiated both the men’s and women’s 2000 Olympic Bronze Medal Games. Jones has eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern, Trans-American Athletic, Metro and Sunshine State Conferences.

In the past, he has been pretty good in calling games, but as with most refs, there are a few bad games in there. Last season against the Magic, he was terrible. He called a flagrant 2 on Smart, which was later downgraded, and then he called an even worst flagrant 1 on Isaiah Thomas. The officiating was one sided throughout the game with Orlando shooting 30 free throws to 16 for the Celtics. He also called an atrocious game against the Bucks with Lauren Holtcamp where several times Tommy was exasperated and just called for the refs to go home because they were missing everything. It really was bad.

This season he called the win at OKC and for the most part let them play but did give the benefit of several questionable calls to OKC. Even Scal mentioned several bad calls but overall, they weren't terrible. In the game vs the Knicks, the refs were pretty good the first 3 quarters but down the stretch in the 4th quarter they were terrible. They let free throws decide the game for New York at the end. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Jones while the Jazz are 2-3 this season and 2-8 in their last 10 with Jones. His home W/L record so far this season is 25-14.

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