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Celtics pay a visit to Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Doc Rivers and the Clippers

The Celtics continue their West Coast road trip with a visit to the Los Angeles Clippers in a meeting of 4th seeds.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
at
Boston Celtics (43-30) at Los Angeles Clippers (45-27)
Monday, March 28,2016
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #74, Road Game #37
TV: NBA-TV, CSNNE, Prime Ticket, SportsnetOne
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KWKW 980 AM
Staples Center

Referees: Jason Phillips, David Guthrie, Haywoode Workman

The Celtics continue their West coast road trip with a visit to Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Celtics beat the Clippers 139-134 in OT in February when these two teams met for the first time. The Clippers are 24-12 at home while the Celtics are 18-18 on the road.

The Celtics eked out a win in their first game on the trip over the Suns after leading by as many as 21. The Suns are fighting with the Nets for lottery position. The Celtics will certainly have to play better against the Clippers than they did against the Suns if they expect to get a win. The Clippers are playing in back-to-back games after beating the Nuggets at home on Sunday.

The Clippers are still without Blake Griffin, who has been out with a quad/hand injury. He was activated on Sunday and is serving a 4-game suspension for the altercation that resulted in his broken hand. Jae Crowder will miss this game as well but could return at some time during the final 3 games of the trip. Avery Bradley played on Saturday after spending the day before in the hospital and rushing out to Phoenix in time for the game. He should be good to go in this game.

The Celtics are 4th in the East, 1/2 game behind Atlanta (3rd) and 1/2 game ahead of Miami (5th). They are 1 game ahead of Charlotte (6th). The Clippers clinched a playoff spot on Sunday and are pretty much set in the No. 4 spot in the West. They are 5.5 games behind OKC (3rd) and 4.5 ahead of Memphis (5th). Games to keep an eye on are BKN @ MIA and ATL @ CHI.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Chris Paul

Shooting Guard
vs
Avery Bradley vs JJ Redick

Small Forward
vs
Evan Turner vs Luc Mbah a Moute

Power Forward
vs
Amir Johnson vs Paul Pierce

Center
vs
Jared Sullinger vs DeAndre Jordan


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

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Injuries

Jae Crowder (high ankle sprain) out


Clippers Reserves
Cole Aldrich
Jeff Ayres
Jamal Crawford
Brandon Dawson
Wesley Johnson
Pablo Prigioni
Jeff Green
CJ Wilcox
Austin Rivers

Head Coach

Doc Rivers

Injuries
Blake Griffin (hand/quad) out

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Chris Paul
Paul is considered to be one of the top PGs in the NBA and will be a tough cover for Isaiah on defense. If Paul starts to have a big game, expect to see Marcus Smart guarding him. Avery will have his hands full with JJ Redick. Paul is averaging 20.0 points, 9.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.

vs
Avery Bradley vs JJ Redick
Redick is shooting the ball very well, averaging 16.6 points and shooting a league-best 48% from beyond the arc and 47% from the field. Avery will need to play tough defense on him to keep him from having a big game.

Honorable Mention
Jared Sullinger vs DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is tough inside on the boards and on defense. He is averaging 12.8 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. He is also shooting a league-best 70% from the field. He pulled down 16 rebounds when these two teams played in Boston. Jordan had 16 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots in Sunday's game vs Denver. Jared will need to work very hard to keep Jordan off the boards and out of the paint.

Brad Stevens vs Doc Rivers
The new coach vs. the previous coach. Doc won the first four meetings with his former team, and Brad got the last one. Which coach will get the upper hand in this one?



Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games, and the Celtics need to continue to play tough team defense. The Clippers average 104.4 points per game, and so the Celtics will need to slow them down and not get into a shoot-out with them since they have players who can put up lots of points in a hurry.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire, and so the Celtics must put out the extra effort on the boards to give themselves extra possessions as well as to limit the Clippers fast-break opportunities and second-chance points. The Clippers will easily turn rebounds into points. The Celtics are 6th in the league with 45.1 rebounds per game while the Clippers are 24th at 42.1 rebounds per game. Doc never did put a priority on rebounding.

Energy and Effort - The Celtics have to come out with energy and have to play harder than the Clippers. One hundred percent effort from every Celtic will be needed to get a win in this one. They are capable of playing well enough to beat the Clippers, but they can't come out with less than their best effort. They have to be the more aggressive team and be the team that wants it more. They have to play better than they did in the second half against the Suns if they want to get a win in this one.

Take Care of the Ball
- The Celtics need to move the ball to find the open man, but they need to make careful passes and not turn the ball over. They had 19 turnovers against the Suns and that was a big reason they let a 21-point lead disappear to win by only three. They can't turn the ball over that many times and hope to win against the Clippers.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics seem to play very well at times, sometimes starting off strong and sometimes finishing strong. But then at other times, they seem to fade away and can't seem to do anything right. They have to make an effort to play hard and keep their focus from the starting tip until the final buzzer. They lost their focus in the 3rd quarter vs the Suns and that almost cost them the game. They have to keep their focus and make their shots and keep the ball moving.

X-Factors
Revenge and Focus on the Road - The Celtics are on the road, and that comes with distractions and discomforts that sometimes take away from their focus. The Celtics have to keep their focus and not let the distractions keep them from playing their best team basketball. Also, the Clippers will be focused on avenging the earlier loss in Boston, and the Celtics have to match that focus.

Officiating - 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. 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
Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips has officiated 824 regular season games and 27 playoff games since joining the NBA officiating staff 13 seasons ago.In addition, Phillips has six seasons of experience officiating in the CBA, working the 1999 CBA Finals. He also officiated three seasons in the WNBA, working the 1999 WNBA Finals. Phillips spent five years officiating at the high school level in his home state of Texas. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Tarleton State. In addition, he played varsity basketball, golf and baseball while at Cisco High School in Texas.

The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. The officiating was fairly even in most of the games last season. In the game in OKC the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 33 for the Thunder and there were more than a few questionable calls. It was Phillips that got Tommy to swear on the air last season in a game against Houston about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. Phillips was the lead official for a game vs the Bulls where the Celtics shot 11 free throws to 40 for the Bulls. The officiating was terrible and one sided. Tommy described it this way, "This was an abomination. It wasn't even close to a decently officiated game." The Clippers are 2-1 this season and are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Phillips. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 42-12.

David Guthrie

David Guthrie enters his eleventh season after officiating 582 regular season games and 18 playoff games. Prior to joining the NBA, Guthrie was an official in the CBA, NBA D-League and the New York City Pro Am. He participated in the D-League playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the D-League championship games in 2004 and 2005. He officiated at the collegiate level in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, Southern, OVC, ASUN, Big South and SWAC conferences and participated in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments.

In the past, Guthrie has been a decent referee, usually letting the teams play rather than over-officiating. In the game against the Timberwolves, Guthrie officiated the game with crew chief Tony Brothers. 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. 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. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Guthrie. The Clippers are 4-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10. Another homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 38-17.

Haywoode Workman
Haywoode Workman has officiated 378 regular season games in his first seven NBA seasons. A second round draft pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 1989, he played professionally for eight seasons in the NBA and overseas betweeen 1989 to 2000.

Workman spent four seasons officiating in the NBA Development League and also officiated in the CBA before joining the NBA. Workman joins Bernie Fryer and Leon Wood on the short list of NBA players who have made the transition to officiating.

Workman was an All-State quarterback in North Carolina in 1983 and played in the NC/SC Shrine Bowl. He played one year of football and basketball for the all time winnigest HBCU coach, the late Clearence "Big House" Gaines, at Winston-Salem State University. He was inducted into the Oral Roberts University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 5-5 over the last 10 games with Workman. There hasn't been a lot of controversy over his officiating. Unlike some of the NBA officials, he keeps a fairly low profile. He has not been noticeable one way or the other in most of his games with the Celtics. The Clippers are 1-0 this season and 9-1 in their last 10 with Workman. His home W/L record is 29-21 this season.

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