Sacramento Kings (21-29) at Boston Celtics (30-22)
Sunday, February 7, 2016
1:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #53, Home Game #26
TV: CSNNE, CSNCA, NBA Cananda, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/755(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KHTK 1140, Sirius 214
Referees: Tony Brothers, Mitchell Ervin, Kane Fitzgerald
The Celtics return home to host Rajon Rondo and the Sacramento Kings for the 2nd and final game between them this season. The Celtics won the first game, which was played in Mexico City, 114-97. This will be Rondo's first trip to Boston with the Kings and I'm sure he will play his best to try to get one over on his former team.
The Celtics have won 8 of their last 9 games and 3 straight. The Cavs have lost their last 2 and 6 of their last 7. They have also lost 4 straight on the road. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Kings are 4-6 in their last 10. The Kings are 8-16 on the road and the Celtics are 15-10 at home.
The Kings are dealing with some injuries coming into this game. Rudy Gay sprained his ankle in Friday's game against Brooklyn and will be a game time decision for this game. If he can't play, Omri Casspi will probably get the start in his place. Willie Cauley Stein also left Friday's game with a calf issue and is listed as day to day. Ben McLemore is doubtful with a wrist injury. Duje Dukan (leg) and Eric Moreland (foot) are both out. Jae Crowder has been playing through a couple of injuries and is expected to play in this one also. Jordan Mickey (ankle) is listed as out.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Isaiah Thomas / Avery Bradley / Jae Crowder / Amir Johnson / Jared Sullinger
Jordan Mickey (ankle) out
Probable Kings Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Rajon Rondo / Marco Belinelli/ Rudy Gay/ DeMarcus Cousins/ Willie Cauley Stein
Eric Moreland (foot) out
Duje Dukan (leg) out
Rudy Gay (ankle) game time decision
Ben McLemore (wrist) doubtful
Willie Cauley Stein (calf) day to day
Amir Johnson vs DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins is a force on both defense and offense. He is averaging 27.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.39 steals and 1.37 blocks. The Celtics will have their hands full trying to contain him in this game. In the first game this season he struggled somewhat with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block.
Isaiah Thomas vs Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is going to want to put on a show for his former team and the Boston fans, many of whom still love him. He is averaging 11.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 11.7 assists and 1.79 steals. He scored 29 points in his first meeting with the Celtics as a Maverick. As is often the case, we may see Avery Bradley covering Rondo on defense. On the other hand, Isaiah will be looking to get a win over his former team as well.
Jae Crowder vs Rudy Gay
Gay is capable of putting up a lot of points in a short time. He is averaging 17.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals. In the first meeting between these teams Gay had 18 points and 7 rebounds. Jae is a very good defender and should be able to slow Gay down if he is healthy enough.
Brad Stevens vs George Karl
We have a matchup of the new guard vs the old guard. Stevens is one of the best new coaches in the league and George Karl is considered to be one of the best of the very experienced coaches in the league. This should be fun to watch. Brad won round 1 so I'm sure George is plotting his revenge in this one.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to put out extra effort to grab the rebounds on both ends of the court. By doing so, they limit the second chance points and fast breaks for the Kings and also give themselves extra possessions. With Cousins and Cauley-Stein manning the front line for the Kings the Celtics will need to put out extra effort if they want to win the battle of the boards.
Defense - The Celtics have tried to make defense their priority this season. Defense not only wins championships, it wins games as well. They have to defend the paint to keep Cousins especially away from the basket as well as closing out on the 3 point shooters. The Kings are 3rd in the league in scoring with 106.8 points per game. They have to play tough team defense to get a win in this one.
Start Strong and Play 48 Minutes - There have been times that the Celtics come out sluggish and other times when they seem to fall apart down the stretch. Sometimes it works out in the end and sometimes it doesn't. They have to come out strong in the first quarter and play tough as a team until the final buzzer. No let up.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after loose balls, rebounds and also be more aggressive defensively. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and also in moving the ball. The more aggressive team usually gets the calls and also the win.
Run and Move the Ball- The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and when they keep the ball moving to find the best shot. They need to run on offense to get easy shots before the Kings' defense can set up. They also need to run on defense to keep the Kings from getting into their sets and to keep them from getting easy baskets. They also have to move the ball. When they tend to dribble too much, the rest of their game seems to become stagnant.
Let Down Factor - The Celtics are coming off an incredible win over the top team in the East. There is always a chance of a let down after a win of that magnitude. They need to stay focused and play as hard or harder against the Kings with no let down.
Home Game - The Celtics have been playing very well at home in recent games, having won their last 6 games at the Garden. Also, the Kings have struggled recently on the road, losing their last 4. The Celtics need to get a boost from the home crowd and come out focused on protecting home court.
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.
Tony Brothers is entering his 22nd season as an NBA official and has officiated 1,270 regular season games, 84 Playoff games and five NBA Finals games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Mexico Challenge, 1998 Schick Rookie Game, 1999 McDonald’s Championship in Milan, Italy and the 2008 China Games.Prior to joining the NBA, Brothers spent four years officiating in the CBA, including three CBA Finals and a CBA All-Star Game. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience at the Junior College level. Brothers also has seven years of high school officiating experience in Virginia, including three state tournaments.
Two seasons ago, in a game vs the Knicks, twice Brothers made the correct call from across the court after Dick Bavetta, who was standing right on top of it, missed the call. All in all, Brothers is one of the better refs in the league. But, inexplicably in a game last season against the Lakers, he was terrible. He was the referee who ejected Isaiah Thomas on a bogus technical call, which has since been rescinded. He also missed a clear travel and double dribble by Lin right in front of him at a very crucial time. There were bad calls and bogus calls all game. The Lakers shot 38 free throws to 27 for the Celtics. Even the Lakers fans were complaining about the officiating going their way all game. Here is a comment from the Lakers boards that says it all, "The Refs are screwing our tank."
This season, in the loss to Dallas, the officiating was terrible. After they called 2 clean blocks by the Celtics fouls, Tommy yelled, "That's 2 strikes against them." Then after failing to call a Parsons elbow to Smart's head right in front of the ref, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Here are just a couple comments from many from Mavs fans:
"Curious sequence there. Phantom foul on Bradley, Lee gets mugged - no call, and ticky tack foul on Lee"
"I'd be pissed if I was a Celtics fan at this officiating."
"I'll take the win but without the refs help, we lose this one."
Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston, even after several intentional fouls by Boston at the end. Brother was also the crew chief in the game against the Timberwolves. In that game calls went the Celtics way at first. After 2 technical fouls against Minnesota's bench things reversed and calls went mostly the Wolves way. Again, the Timberwolves fans said it best:
"The refs were the MVP tonight for us."
"It's weird being on the other side of poor officiating."
"Free throws the only thing keeping us afloat in this one."
"We're getting all the calls we didn't get other nights."
When fans admit they are getting help from the refs, you know that the officiating is bad. Minnesota shot 32 free throws to just 16 for the Celtics. Other than those games he has been a decent ref so who knows what we will get in this game. It's odd that Brothers just called the Pacers game this past week and is now calling another game for the Celtics. In the Pacers game, they mostly let both sides play but missed a couple of big calls that even the ESPN announcers mentioned. One was an out of bounds play and the other was an offensive foul against Amir that was not called. Other than a few glaring calls, they weren't all that bad. It's funny that before the game, both fan bases were bemoaning the fact that Brothers was one of the refs. Brothers calls 42.8 fouls per game with 52.9% of those fouls called on the home team. The Celtics are 3-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 with Brothers. The Kings are 2-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 18-17
Mitchell Ervin is entering into his first NBA season having officiated 12 regular season games as a non-staff official. Prior to joining the NBA, Ervin officiated in the NBA D-League for 4 years where he officiated in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 NBA D-League Playoffs, including the 2014 and 2015 NBA D-League Finals. Ervin also officiated the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star Game in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ervin’s resume includes 8 years of collegiate officiating experience, with 6 of those years in Division I having officiated in the Big 12, Conference USA, Big South, Sun Belt, Southland and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. During his stint in Division I, Ervin was selected to work in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Southland Conference Tournament, as well as the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Tournament in which he officiated in the conference tournament semi-finals. He also has one year and five years of high school officiating experience in New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston, Texas respectively.
Prior to becoming a professional basketball official, Ervin was a middle school physical education teacher, football, basketball and track coach. Ervin graduated with a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management and Exercise Physiology from the University of New Orleans, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and a walk-on member of the 1997 – 98 Privateer basketball team.
The Celtics are 0-4 over his career (2 games in 2014 as a non staff referee) and the Kings are 2-2 over his career. His home W/L record this season is 20-13.
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 T's. 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.
This is Fitzgerald's second game this season calling the Celtics game. 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 game and it was well officiated. The Celtics are 1-3 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald while the Kings are 1-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10. Fitzgerald calls an average of 41.5 fouls per game with 47.5% called on the home team. His home W/L record this season is 21-19.