Boston Celtics (43-32) at Golden State Warriors (68-7)
Friday, April 1, 2016
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #76, Road Game #39
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, CSN-BA
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, KNBR 1050 AM
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Mark Ayotte, Nick Buchert
The Celtics continue their West Coast trip with a visit to the league leading Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are undefeated at home this season at 36-0. They also won their last 18 games last season to make their home winning streak a total of 54 straight wins at home. The Celtics lost to the Warriors 124-119 in double OT in Boston back in December without Klay Thompson who sat out with an ankle injury. The Warriors have won their last 5 games vs the Celtics.
It will take a monumental effort on behalf of the Celtics to get a win in this one. The Warriors are good in just about every area. They lead the league in points per game (115.1 ), 2nd in FG % (49.6), 1st in assists per game (29.0), 1st in 3 point % (41.5 ) and 1st in fast break points (20.8). The Warriors have swept the season series for the last 2 seasons. Both games were close last season with just a 5 point difference in Boston and a 3 point difference in Golden State.
The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games, having played in Portland on Thursday night. The Celtics are 11-6 overall in the second of back to back games and 3-1 when both games are on the road.
Jae Crowder returned to the Celtics on Thursday but is expected to miss this game for rest so as not to take any chances with his health. Evan Turner will more than likely get the start again. Although the Celtics are reporting that Jae will miss this one, I wouldn't doubt his ability to talk his way back into the starting lineup. The Blazers will be without Kevin Looney (hip), Festus Ezeli,(knee) and Andre Iguodala (ankle).
The Celtics dropped from 4th to 6th with the loss on Thursday. They are 1.5 games behind Atlanta (3) and 1/2 game behind both Miami (4) and Charlotte (5). They are 3 ahead of Detroit (7). Golden State are light years ahead of every team in the league. Games to keep an eye on - Friday: PHI@CHA, CLE@ATL, MIA@SAC.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Evan Turner
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Jared Sullinger
Jae Crowder (ankle) out
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Draymond Green
C: Andrew Bogut
James Michael McAdoo
Brandon Rush (knee) day to day
Kevon Looney (hip) out
Andre Iguodala (ankle) questionable
Festus Ezeli (knee) questionable
Isaiah Thomas vs Stephen Curry
The simple truth is that no human can guard Stephen Curry. Avery and Isaiah and Jay have to do the best they can but he will still get his. Curry is averaging 30.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 2.17 steals per game. He is shooting 51% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc. That is almost super human. The best the Celtics can hope for is to maybe slow him down a little.
Avery Bradley vs Klay Thompson
Thompson is averaging 22.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. He is shooting 43% from beyond the arc. Thompson missed the first meeting between these two teams and will definitely be a tough cover for the Celtics in this one. It seems almost unfair to have two players this good in the same backcourt.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Warriors can put up points quickly and in bunches. They lead the league with 115.1 points per game. It will be important for the Celtics to bring their defensive intensity into this game, especially to shut down the Warriors' fast breaks as they lead the league in fast break points with 20.8 . The Celtics must especially guard the perimeter as the Warriors are very dangerous from beyond the arc, shooting 41.5% from 3. The Celtics must execute on the defensive end of the court and play tough team defense if they have any hope of winning this game.
Rebound - The Celtics need to crash the boards to keep the Warriors from igniting their fast breaks. The Celtics also need to rebound to give themselves second chance points and limit the second chance points for the Warriors. The Warriors are a very good rebounding team, pulling down 46.3 rebounds per game, good for 4th in the league. The Celtics have to crash the boards as a team.
Take Care of the Ball - The Warriors can be very disruptive by getting into the passing lanes. The Celtics need to stay focused and not give the Warriors any easy opportunities to steal the ball or to get out on the break. If the Celtics get sloppy with the ball, the Warriors will make them pay.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to come out focused and play hard from start to finish. The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team throughout the game. They must be aggressive on defense, on the boards, in chasing down loose balls, and in taking the ball to the hoop and not settling for jumpers. They will need energy and extra effort from every player on the team.
Move the Ball - The Celtics play best when the ball keeps moving and they find the open man and the best possible shot. When the Celtics average under 20 assists they are just 13-13 but when they have over 20 assists, they are 40-18. They have to move the ball to find the open man and, of course, the open man has to make his shots.
Focus - The Celtics have to be focused on the game and not on all the hype of the Warriors win streak. The only way the Celtics will get a win in this game is to outwork the Warriors and stay focused on the task at hand.
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.
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 3-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with McCutchen on the court. The Warriors are 5-0 this season and 9-1 in their last 10 games with him. McCutchen is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 37-20.
Mark Ayotte completed his 11th NBA season having officiated 658 regular season games and two playoff game Prior to joining the NBA, Ayotte was a WNBA official for four years and a CBA official for three years. He spent one year officiating in the NBA D-League.
Ayotte has 12 years of collegiate officiating experience, having worked in the Pac-10, Big Sky and West Coast conferences. He officiated in the Pac-10 Conference Tournament and the Big Sky Conference Tournament, including the finals. Ayotte also was an official for the preseason and postseason NIT. He has 10 years of high school officiating experience in the state of Arizona.
The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 2-8 over their last 10 games with Ayotte. Ayotte has been good for the most part, but has had a few games where the calls were questionable and the officiating uneven. In his last game with the Celtics, the win over Portland, they let them play early but tightened it up a bit toward the end. The officials gave the Celtics the benefit of several calls. The Celtics shot 24 free throws to 20 for the Blazers. There were a lot of complaints about the officiating from Blazers fans although the officiating was only slightly tilted toward the Celtics. The Warriors are 5-1 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 with Ayotte. Ayotte was one of the refs in the Mavs/OKC game two seasons ago in which Marc Cuban was fined $75,000 for criticizing the referees as among the worst he has seen. Ayotte has a home W/L record this season of 30-26.
Nick Buchert enters his sixth NBA season having officiated 282 games. Buchert owns nine years of collegiate officiating experience. Additionally, he has officiated the 2010 NBA D-League Finals and 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game. There's not much controversy about Buchert and he has been decent in his games with the Celtics. He called the Sixers game this season and let them play and the officiating was good. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Buchert while the Warriors are 0-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 32-25.