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Celtics look for their 3rd straight win as they host the Toronto Raptors

Celtics host the Toronto Raptors for the 4th and final game between them and look to avenge earlier losses to their division rival.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors (48-21) at Boston Celtics (41-30)
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #72 Home Game #37
TV: CSNNE, TSN4, NBA-LP 752(DTV), 752(xfinity)
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, TSN Radio 1050
TD Garden
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Brian Forte, Scott Wall

The Celtics host the Toronto Raptors just 5 days after traveling to Toronto for a 105=91 loss to their division foes. The Raptors hold a 3-0 advantage in the series and the Celtics would love to get some revenge with a win in this game and to avoid a series sweep. The Raptors are 20-13 on the road while the Celtics are 24-12 at home.

The Celtics broke their 4 game losing streak with a win over the Sixers and followed that up with a win over the Magic. Both of those teams are lottery bound and so a win over the Raptors would big for them to show that they are indeed back on track. After this game they head out West for a 5 game road trip that will take them through Phoenix, Portland, Los Angeles (both Clippers and Lakers) and Golden State.

It would be nice to head out on the road with a 3 game win streak. Toronto has their own motivation for winning this game. A win in this game would clinch a playoff berth for the Raptors. It would also match a franchise best for wins in a season. The Raptors are also just 1.5 games behind the Cavaliers who have been struggling somewhat of late and the top spot in the East is a possibility for them.

The Celtics spent a day tied with Miami and Atlanta for 3rd in the East. With a win over the Pelicans on Tuesday, the Heat moved half a game ahead of the Celtics into sole possession of 3rd place. The Hawks are in 4th by virtue of owning the tie breaker. The Celtics are holding down the 5th spot while Charlotte is tied with the Celtics but are in 6th due to Boston owning that tie breaker. Games to keep an eye on: ATL at WAS and MIA at SAS.

Jonas Jerebko returned to the Celtics on Monday and hopefully shook off some rust in that game. Kelly Olynyk finally looked comfortable out on the court and the Celtics will need him to play well again in this game. Jae Crowder will miss his 6th straight game with an ankle injury. For the Raptors, Patrick Patterson and Jonas Valanciunas practiced in Tuesday and are expected to return from injury in this game. James Johnson practiced on Tuesday but is still listed as questionable for this game. Demarre Carroll is out with a knee injury.

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

Jae Crowder (ankle) out

Probable Starters

Kyle Lowry...DeMar DeRozan...Norman Powell...Luis Scola...Bismack Biyombo

Raptors Reserves
Terrence Ross
Cory Joseph
Lucas Nogueira
Delon Wright
Bruno Caboclo
Jason Thompson

Head Coach

Dwane Casey

Demarre Carroll (knee) out
Jonas Valanciunas (hand) probable
James Johnson (plantar fasciitis) questionable
Patrick Patterson (ankle) probable

Key Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry has given the Celtics problems in the past and he is playing very well, averaging 21.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Lowry scored 32 points in their last meeting, including 5 three pointers. It will be important for the Celtics to slow Lowry down and keep him from having another big game.

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, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. DeRozan scored 34 points in January's game between these two teams. In Friday's meeting he finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. It's important for the Celtics to slow both of Toronto's high scoring back court players down.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Luis Scola
Scola is averaging 8.6 points and 5 rebounds but really likes playing against the Celtics. He put up 18 points in January's game and added 17 points, all in the first quarter, on Friday. Amir needs to keep him from having another big game in this one. Amir has played very well in the last 3 games and hopefully will give them a boost in this one against his former team as well.

Keys to the Game

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 hold opponents to just 98.3 points, good for 5th in the league. The Celtics have to match that defensive intensity.

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 let up.


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.

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 on their recent losing streak. The Celtics need to keep the ball moving and not lapse into hero ball.

The Celtics need to stay focused. The Celtics have got to focus on taking good shots and finding the open man. The Raptors have won 33 consecutive games when they hold opponents under 100 points. The Celtics have to focus and not allow the Raptors tough defense to derail them. They also have to keep their focus on defense and not allow the Raptors to get easy and open shots. In Friday's game against the Raptors, the Celtics turned the ball over 7 times in the first quarter and 6 times in the 4th quarter with 3 more in between. The Celtics can't lose focus and allow the Raptors to get easy fast break points off of steals.

Revenge Factor
- Amir would love to get a win against his former team and the Celtics, as a team, feel they owe the Raptors some payback after the 3 losses to them. Can the Celtics use that as motivation to play hard and smart enough to get a win?

Home Factor
- The last two losses to the Raptors were in Toronto. The loss in Boston was way back in the 2nd game of the season when the Celtics started Marcus Smart, David Lee and Tyler Zeller. They have come a long way since then and hopefully the home crowd will give them the boost they need to win 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
Monty McCutchen

Monty McCutchen has officiated 1,310 regular season, 124 playoff, and 12 Finals games. He worked the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas and was a member of the crews that officiated the 1996 and 1997 Mexico Challenges, as well as the 1998 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, McCutchen spent four seasons in the CBA, where he worked the All
Star game his second year and the playoffs all four years. He also officiated the CBA Finals the last three years he was with the league. McCutchen missed the 1998-99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

He is a former elementary and middle school teacher and is fondly remembered by his students as a really nice guy. In searching for information on him, I found a Cavs' blog that blamed a loss to the Celtics on the officiating of Monty McCutchen. That was the game where Mike Brown was ejected and the Cavs made a furious comeback but fell short. In game 2 of the WCF, McCutchen flipped out on someone and yelled "I'm running this game not you!" as Serge Ibaka went to the line for free throws.

Most of his games with the Celtics have been well officiated but there have been a few head scratching calls as well. He was the lead ref in one of the worst officiated games I've watched in a long time. In the LA Lakers vs Golden State Warriors a couple years back, the Lakers shot 50 free throws to 16 for the Warriors in a 2 point LA win. It was a key game for the Lakers playoff hopes and the referees literally gave them the game.

One play in particular stands out to me. In the final minutes with the game tied, Stephen Curry was called for an offensive foul on Dwight Howard, when it was clearly a foul on Howard. The worst part is that they put Steve Blake, a very good free throw shooter, on the line instead of Dwight, even though Blake wasn't involved in the play. It truly was a travesty and the announcers at the time were completely disgusted with it. It just proves that when they have an agenda, they will go to extreme lengths to accomplish it.

Maybe he felt like he owed the Warriors one because he called the Celtics game against the Warriors this season and it was definitely called in favor of the Warriors. They gave the Warriors break after break and had Tommy sputtering and yelling the entire game. Evan Turner said after the game that the officiating was a big reason the Celtics lost. Even Warriors fans were talking about all the calls going their way. When Draymond Green committed his 6th foul, they gave it to Stephen Curry, who wasn't even involved in the play. Green was able to play the 4th quarter and both OT's with 5 fouls. Avery Bradley, who was having considerable success guarding Curry fouled out on a couple of questionable calls. The Warriors shot 39 free throws to just 16 for the Celtics.

His called the last game vs the Timberwolves and the officiating was terrible all around, but especially against the Celtics. Isaiah shot no free throws in spite of being mugged every time he went to the basket. The Wolves shot 40 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. So, I guess the bottom line is that McCutchen can be very good, but he also can be very bad. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with McCutchen on the court. The Raptors are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with him. McCutchen is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 35-19.

Brian Forte
Brian Forte, who is the son of retired NBA referee Joe Forte, has officiated 465 regular season games and five Playoff game in seven NBA seasons. He also officiated the 2011 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophmore game. He worked for six seasons in the NBA D-League, officiating 126 games. During that time he worked two Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southern Conference, where he officiated the 2007 conference tournament final, and the Southeastern Conference, where he officiated the 2007 conference tournament. Forte also was selected to officiate the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Forte was the object of Tommy's wrath in the classic rant that follows (the T was later rescinded).

The officiating in that game was bad both ways.

Forte was one of the refs that officiated a Celtics win in Indiana 2 seasons ago. The officiating in that game was horrible and very one sided toward the Pacers. One of the comments from the Pacers' forum said that they wouldn't blame Celtics fans if they punched out the refs. It's bad when the officiating is so terrible that the opposing fans feel bad about it. Tommy also had this to say, "I hope this group of officials doesn't officiate the playoffs. Holy cow! They are terrible." He's been good in more recent games, however. He called the wins vs Rockets, Sixers, Suns, Nets, and Wizards this season and the officiating in all of them was good. They let them play and didn't interfere with the flow of the game. The Celtics are 5-0 this season and 10-0 in their last 10 games with Forte officiating. The Raptors are 3-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 with Forte. His home W/L record this season is 31-26.

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.

He called a game vs the Knicks this season in which the officiating was bad both ways but neither team was given an advantage since the bad calls went against both teams. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Wall while the Raptors are 1-3 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games. His home W/L record is 21-25.

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