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Celtics try to snap losing streak as they visit the division leading Raptors

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The Celtics visit the Raptors for the 3rd of 4 meeting this season. The Celtics are looking to avoid a 4 game losing streak and a drop into the 6th spot in the East. .

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (39-29) at Toronto Raptors (45-21)
Friday, March 18, 2016
Regular Season Game #69, Road Game #34
TV: NBA-TV, CSNNE, Sportsnet One
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, TSN Radio 1050
Air Canada Centre

Referees: Ron Garretson, Kane Fitzgerald, Justin VanDuyne

The Celtics hit the road again to visit the 2nd-place Toronto Raptors for the 3rd of 4 meetings this season. The Raptors lead the series 2-0, winning 115-109 in Toronto and 113-103 in Boston. They will meet one more time on March 23rd in Boston to complete the series.

The Raptors are playing in the second of back-to-back games, having won in Indiana in overtime on Thursday night. The Raptors are 26-8 at home while the Celtics are 16-17 on the road. The Raptors are 7-5 on the second night of back-to-back games. The Celtics have lost 5 of the last 6 games in Toronto.

The Celtics' 3-game losing streak dropped them from 3rd place down to 5th. With a Miami loss on Thursday night, the Celtics are back up to the 4th spot. Atlanta moved into 3rd place, 1/2 game ahead of the Celtics (4), Heat (5) and Hornets (6), all of whom have the same record, but the Celtics have the tie-breaker over both the Heat and Hornets. They will drop all the way to 6th if they lose this one so for the standings' sake, this is kind of a must-win game.

The Celtics got a lift from the return of Kelly Olynyk in Wednesday night's game, and hopefully he will have better rhythm in his second game back. Kelly likes playing in Toronto, averaging 19.0 points in his last 3 visits there. At the same time, they lost Jonas Jerebko to an ankle/Achilles injury. It was a big loss considering the fact that the Celtics were counting on Jerebko to help make up for the loss of Jae Crowder. They will once again be without Jae Crowder who is still out with the ankle injury. For Toronto, DeMarre Carroll is out with a knee injury and Jonas Valanciunas is questionable with a hand injury.

For this game, Brad Stevens has decided to go with Evan Turner in the starting lineup and to return Marcus Smart to his role off the bench.


Probable Starters

Isaiah Thomas...Avery Bradley...Evan Turner ...Amir Johnson...Jared Sullinger


Celtics Reserves

Marcus Smart
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Coty Clarke
Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries
Jae Crowder (ankle) out
Jonas Jerebko (ankle/Achilles) out



Probable Starters

Kyle Lowry...DeMar DeRozan...James Johnson...Luis Scola...Bismack Biyombo

Raptors Reserves
Patrick Patterson
Terrence Ross
Cory Joseph
Lucas Nogueira
Norman Powell
Delon Wright
Bruno Caboclo
Jason Thompson

Head Coach

Dwane Casey

Injuries
Demarre Carroll (knee) out
Jonas Valanciunas (hand) questionable



Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry has given the Celtics problems in the past and he is playing very well, averaging 21.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Lowry is going to be tough for Isaiah to guard and we may see Smart on him if he starts to have a big game since James Johnson isn't near as big a threat to score as Lowry is.

vs
Avery Bradley vs DeMarr DeRozan
DeRozan is Toronto's leading scorer and is going to be a tough cover. He is averaing 23.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. DeRozan scored 34 points in the last game between these two teams. 18 of those points were in the 3rd quarter. Avery has to do a better job on defense in this game, especially with Jae out.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Luis Scola
Scola is averaging 8.6 points and 5 rebounds but put up 18 points in the last game between these two teams. Amir needs to keep him from having another big game in this one.

Keys to the Game
Defense

Defense has always been and always will be the key to winning. The Celtics have let their defense slip in recent games, and the loss of Jae Crowder is definitely a blow to their ability to defend. They need to play particularly tough defense against the Raptors since they are capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry. The Raptors are 5th in the league as they hold opponents to just 98.4 points. The Celtics gave up 55.4 percent from the field in one of their worst defensive efforts of the season the last time these two teams met in Toronto. The Celtics absolutely must defend better in this game if they hope to get a win.

Be Aggressive

The Celtics must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, in crashing the boards, and just all around going all-out. They have to aggressively attack the basket. They need to start the game with that aggressive attitude and be aggressive through the whole game with no letting up.

Rebound

The Celtics must crash the boards. They can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to be the team that puts out more effort from every player to go after rebounds. The Celtics are 3rd in 2nd-chance points, and to get 2nd chance points they must first get the rebounds. They have to put out extra effort to box out and grab rebounds on both ends of the court. Biyombo grabbed 25 rebounds in Thursday's win over Indiana, so Sully needs to especially box him out and keep him off the boards.

Run and Move the Ball

The Celtics need to run on every possession and get up the court before the defenses get set up. When the Celtics slow down, they don't play very well, and so they need to run throughout the game. They also have to move the ball and find the open man. The ball stopped moving against the Thunder and we know how that ended up. The Celtics need to keep the ball moving and not lapse into hero ball.

X-Factors
The Offensive Factor - Sometimes the Celtics can't seem to hit a shot to save their lives. They miss 3-pointers, elbow shots, layups, shots from everywhere. I don't know if that's a focus factor or what it is. The Celtics have got to focus on taking good shots and take good shots. They won't win many games shooting below 40%.

The Canadian Factor - With Kelly coming home to Toronto and hopefully having a cheering section there and with Amir returning to Toronto after gaining a following there, perhaps they will be motivated to have big games. Amir didn't play very well in their last game there so hopefully he will make up for it in this game.

Officiating Factor - Officiating is always an X-factor. How the refs call the game has a big influence on how the teams play. Will they let them play or call every little bit of contact? Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. Will they be influenced by the home crowd or will they call it fairly for both teams? It all effects the outcome of the game.

Official Report
Ron Garretson

Ron Garretson, the son of former NBA official Darell Garretson (1967-94), has officiated 1810 regular season, 215 playoff games, and 11 NBA Finals games over his 28 seasons in the NBA. In addition, Garretson has two years of CBA officiating experience and two years of high school officiating experience in Arizona.

There isn't a lot of controversy surrounding Garretson recently. He hasn't been partiularly bad in the games he's called for the Celtics over the past few years. In the '95-'96 season, Nick Van Exel was ejected from a game for calling Garretson a "little midget" He also was fined $25,000 and suspended 7 games for the incident. In a 2000 playoff game between the Lakers and the Blazers, Rasheed Wallace was ejected for not having the right attitude. Although Sheed stressed that he had not said or done anything wrong, the ejection was upheld. My guess is that Sheed's reputation had a lot to do with that ejection.

Last season, in a game vs the Spurs he lived up to his homer reputation. Even through the Celtics were outplayed by the Spurs, there were a lot of questionable calls against the Celtics and for the Spurs throughout the game. In a playoff game between the Rockets and Mavs last season, the Rockets shot 45 free throws to 17 for the Mavs and the officiating was completely one sided. Joey Crawford was the crew chief for that game and that could explain a lot. Garretson in the past was known as a big time homer ref but usually lets the teams play. His home W/L record this season is a bit more even than it has been in the past. He calls 38.3 fouls per game and 52.7% of those are called on the road team. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 1-9 over the last 10 games with Garretson. The Raptors are 3-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 28-23.

Kane Fitzgerald

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 KinConferences 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. 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 this season 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. He called the game vs Sacramento and the officiating was terrible. Here are some comments from Kings' fans about the officiating.
"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."
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 2-4 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald while the Raptors are 3-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10. Fitzgerald calls an average of 42.9 fouls per game with 49.8% called on the road team. His home W/L record this season is 25-25.

Justin Van Duyne

Justin Van Duyne is entering his second season having officiated 66 regular season games. Van Duyne joins the staff after four seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League, already having officiated 16 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. Prior to joining the NBA, Van Duyne officiated in numerous college conferences including the PAC-12, Mountain West, Big West, WCC, and WAC. In his first season, Van Duyne was part of a poorly called game where the Timberwolves shot 32 free throws to just 9 for the Celtics and there were a number of questionable calls the entire game. Even Wolves fans were commenting on how many breaks they were getting. The Raptors are 4-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Van Duyne while the Celtics are 2-4 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 with VanDuyne. His home W/L record this season is 23-21.