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Celtics go back (to back) on the road to take on the Cavs in the rubber match

The Celtics go for their 6th straight win as they look to take the season series from the first-place Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (38-25) at Cleveland Cavaliers (43-17)
Saturday, March 5, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #64, Road Game #32
TV: CSNNE, FSOH, NBA-LP 750(DTV)/751(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1100 WTAM
Quicken Loans Arena

Referees: Scott Foster, Steve Anderson, Eric Dalen

The Celtics completed their five-game homestand and are heading out on the road for the third and final game with the Cavaliers this season. The series stands at 1-1 with the Celtics winning in Cleveland and the Cavs winning in Boston. The Cavs have the best home record in the East at 25-5, but one of those losses came at the hands of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are 16-15 on the road.

I'm sure the Cavs still clearly remember their last meeting on February 5 when Avery Bradley hit the game winning three-pointer as time expired despite a game-high 30 points from LeBron James. They will come into this game with revenge on their minds while the Celtics will be looking to continue their march toward respect in the league. The Celtics have won five straight games while the Cavs have won their last two.

Both teams are playing in back-to-back games. The Cavs easily beat the Wizards at home on Friday night, holding the Wizards to just 83 points. Their starters played around 30 minutes. The Celtics just barely got past the Knicks at home on Friday night and had to travel after the game, so that would put them at a slight disadvantage. The Celtics are 10-4 on the second night of back-to-back games but only 2-2 when the games are home-road. They pride themselves on giving an extra effort to win on the second night of back-to-backs, though.

The Celtics remain 3rd in the East but are just 1.5 games ahead of the Heat, who beat the Suns and the Sixers back-to-back. The Heat have one of the league's easier schedules remaining while the Celtics have one of the tougher schedules remaining. The Celtics are 4 games ahead of the Hawks, who are in the 5th spot. They are also just 4 games behind the No. 2 Raptors.

Kelly Olynyk will miss this game with the shoulder injury that has kept him out since February 10. James Young (calf) is listed as day-to-day. RJ Hunter was assigned to the Red Claws on Thursday. Mo Williams is out for the Cavaliers with a knee injury. Kevin Love was rested on Friday and so didn't play.

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Thomas................... SG: Avery Bradley

SF: Jae Crowder........... PF: Amir Johnson

C: Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves

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


Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) out
Rookies (Red Claws) possible
James Young (calf) day to day

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Possible Starters

PG: Kyrie Irving ................ SG: JR Smith
SF: LeBron James................. PF: Kevin Love

C: Timofey Mozgov

Cavs Reserves
Iman Shumpert
Tristan Thompson
Richard Jefferson
Mo Williams
James Jones
Matthew Dellavedova
Sasha Kaun
Channing Frye

Head Coach
Tyron Lue

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs LeBron James
As always, Jae will have the job of guarding the opponent's toughest player and in this case, it is none other than LeBron James. James is averaging 24.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists. LeBron loves the Celtics and in 40 regular season games against them he is averaging 29.7 points, the second highest against any opponent. The only team he averages more against is the Thunder (29.73). In the Celtics win in February, LeBron had 30 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

Amir Johnson vs Kevin Love
Love may still be looking for some revenge against the team that ended his playoff run last season. He is averaging 15.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists and needs to be covered both on the perimeter and in the paint. He rested against the Wizards on Friday and should be ready to go in this game.

Honorable Mention

Isaiah Thomas vs Kyrie Irving
Irving missed the first meeting between these two teams finished the second game with 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists. He is averaging 19.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He will be a tough matchup for Isaiah.

Keys to the Game
Defense Defense Defense!! Defense is key to winning every game. The Celtics let their defense slip for a bit but seem to be getting back to playing tough team defense once again. The Cavs are averaging 102.9 points per game this season and allowing 97.2. The Celtics are averaing 106.1 points per game and allowing 101.7. The Celtics have to match the defensive intensity of the Cavs if they have any hope to win this game.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. They must crash the boards as a team to prevent the Cavs from getting second-chance and fast-break points. They also need to rebound to give themselves extra possessions and to fuel their running game. The Celtics are averaging slightly more rebounds (45.1) than the Cavs (44.7), and they need to put extra effort into beating the Cavs to the rebounds in this one.

Run, Run, Run - The Celtics need to run on every possession in order to get some easy points before the Cavs defense sets up. When the Celtics walk the ball up and slow the game down, they struggle. They have to run, and they have to move the ball. The Cavs are a good defensive team, and so the Celtics need to try to beat their defense up the court.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to beat the Cavs to every loose ball and win the 50/50 balls. They have to be aggressive on the boards, in driving into the paint, and to the basket. They have to be the team that works harder and the team that wants it more.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They can't afford to let the Cavs get a big lead because the Cavs are a very good defensive team, and it won't be easy to dig out of a hole against them. They also can't let the Cavs back in it if they can manage to build a lead. They must play all-out for all 48 minutes.

Move the Ball - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man. When they stop moving the ball and try to do too much individually, they struggle. They have to keep the ball moving but at the same time, they have to make good passes and not allow the Cavs to force turnovers.

Officiating - As always, the officiating is an X-factor. Every crew officiates differently and teams never know what to expect. Sometimes they let them play, and other times they call a foul on every possession. Some games they call evenly, and others they favor one team or the other. It's like Forrest Gump's box of chocolate... you never know what you are going to get. In most games against the Cavs, however, the Cavs seem to get the benefit of way too many calls.

Revenge Factor
- The Cavs will definitely be looking to avenge that 104-103 loss to the Celtics in their last meeting. The Celtics need to keep that chip on their shoulders and look to avenge the 4 game sweep in last year's playoffs.

Road and Fatigue Factor
- The Cavaliers play very well at home with just 5 losses there this season. The Celtics are above .500 on the road but not anywhere as dominant on the road as the Cavs are at home. Hopefully the Celtics can overcome any distractions that come up on the road and focus on getting a win. Both teams are playing in back-to-back games and hopefully the Celtics' depth and youth will give them the advantage.

Official Report
Scott Foster

A veteran official of 21 NBA seasons, Scott Foster has worked 1,305 regular season and 124 Playoff games, including 14 Finals games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Europe Tour in Berlin, Germany and Seville, Spain. In addition to his NBA experience, Foster has two years of CBA officiating experience, two years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southern and Big South conferences and six years of high school officiating experience in Maryland.

Foster came into the public eye as the best friend of former referee Tim Donaghy. In his book, Donaghy describes Foster as a very honest and good guy who knew nothing of his gambling. However, recently Donaghy described Foster as a company man who will do what is asked of him to keep his seniority among refs. Foster was part of the 2010 Finals game 7 officiating crew that called the final quarter completely different than the first 3 quarters and very one-sided for the Lakers with 21 free throws for the Lakers and 6 for the Celtics in the final 12 minutes.

Foster led the officiating crew that called the game vs the Bucks this season. They let both teams play with the Celtics shooting 19 free throws to 23 for the Bucks. He also called a game vs the Bulls this season and they let them play and called it evenly in that one as well. The Celtics are 2-0 this season, and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Foster. The Cavs are 3-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 28-19.

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson enters his third NBA season having officiated 99 regular season games. He joined the full-time staff in 2013-14 after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League and already having officiated 18 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. Anderson officiated the FIBA U19 World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2013. This season in a game vs the Nets, the officiating was one sided toward the Nets and Brooklyn took 30 free throws to 14 for the Celtics and that was after they tried to even it up down the stretch. He also called a game vs the Pacers last season in which there were quite a few head scratching calls that prompted a "That's terrible!" from Tommy several times.

He called the win over Miami this season and for the most part let both teams play. But, he made a few bad calls against the Celtics down the stretch. With just over 2 minutes left, the refs called a foul on Amir Johnson for a foul when Amir and Bosh were both scrambling for a loose ball. Amir was on the floor with the ball and Bosh landed on top of him. It gave Miami possession in a close game. In a game vs the Knicks this season, the refs were ok for the 1st three quarters but were terrible down the stretch, letting the Celtics get mugged several times with no calls and calling fouls on the Celtics for minimal contact. They let free throws decide the game.

In a game vs Denver this season, there were bad calls both ways for most of the game but it seemed as though there were more against the Celtics than against Denver. Celtics shot 20 free throws to 34 for the Nuggets. The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Anderson while the Cavs are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Anderson. His home W/L record is 23-14.

Eric Dalen
Eric Dalen officiated 367regular season games in his first seven NBA seasons. Prior to the NBA, Dalen worked for five seasons in the NBA D-League and officiated the 2008 All-Star Game and Finals. He also officiated for three years in the Southeastern Conference. Dalen was a two-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota where he played tight end for the football team.

I couldn't find much controversy on the guy other than an article where Andrew Bynum was complaining about Dalen calling all 6 fouls on him in a game in 2008. Some games he has called for the Celtics have been evenly called and well officiated, while others have been terrible with bad calls, no-calls, and one-sided officiating. In a game vs Detroit last season, the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 10 for the Pistons and the Celtics got the benefit of most of the questionable calls. He may be good or he may be bad depending on the other refs and the game.

He called the game vs the Sixers this season and the officiating was good and they let them play. Just 18 free throws for the Celtics and 15 for the Sixers. The Celtics are 2-3 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Dalen. The Pistons are 1-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. He called a game this season vs Detroit where the officiating was so bad that Mike Gorman, who rarely comments on the officiating and leaves that to Tommy, called the officiating embarrassing. He can be good or bad depending on the game. His home W/L record this season is 25-19.

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