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Celtics continue quest for home court in the playoffs as they host the Hornets

In yet another must-win game to secure home court in the playoffs, the Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Charlotte Hornets (46-34) at Boston Celtics (47-33)
Monday, April 11, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #81 Home Game #40
TV: CSN-NE, FSSE, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/752(XFinity)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, WFNZ 610 AM
TD Garden

Referees: Marc Davis, Michael Smith, Ben Taylor

The Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets for the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Celtics lead the series 2-0 after winning both games in Charlotte in December. The Celtics own the tie breaker between these two teams regardless of the results of this game.

Charlotte is playing in the second of back-to-back games after playing an early game in Washington on Sunday. Entering Monday night's game, the Hornets are 11-4 in the second game of back-to-backs. The Hornets have lost 4 of their last 5 games while the Celtics have won 4 of their last 5 games. The Celtics have won 4 straight against the Hornets.

The Celtics are getting healthy at a good time. Marcus Smart is playing with 4 stitches in his eye, and Evan Turner is playing with goggles due to an abrasion on his eye, so the Celtics are pretty much at full strength. Amir Johnson is playing his best basketball of the season after suffering from plantar fasciitis early on. Jae Crowder is still working on getting his conditioning back after missing 8 games with an ankle sprain but is very close to 100%.
The Hornets are missing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who is out with a shoulder injury. When the Celtics beat the Hornets the first two times, Al Jefferson did not play. They also acquired Courtney Lee after those two games. Adding both Lee and Big Al should make a big difference for them. I'm sure you remember the Celtics' original back court pit bull defenders were Avery and Courtney Lee. Lee could make it difficult on Isaiah to bring the ball up and score. But then again, the Celtics also started David Lee at power forward.

The Celtics started Sunday half a game ahead of both Miami and Charlotte. But with a Miami win and a Charlotte loss, the standings are once again shifting. The Celtics are 4th, one game behind Atlanta (3) after Saturday's loss to the Hawks. They are tied with Miami (5) but own the tie breaker between them and have one more game against Miami on Wednesday. They are 1 game ahead of Charlotte. The Celtics can control their destiny as if they win both remaining games, they will have at least the 4th spot and home court advantage in the first round. Game to watch: ATL@CLE.

Probable Starters
Isaiah Thomas.....Avery Bradley....Jae Crowder....Amir Johnson....Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves

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


Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters
Kemba Walker....Courtney Lee....Nicolas Batum....Marvin Williams....Cody Zeller

Hornets Reserves
Al Jefferson
Troy Daniels
Tyler Hansbrough
Jorge Gutierrez
Aaron Harrison
Spencer Hawes
Frank Kaminsky
Jeremy Lamb
Jeremy Lin


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) out

Head Coach

Steve Clifford

Key Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs Kemba Walker
Walker is averaging 21.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game and is playing as well as just about any point guard in the league. This will be a fun matchup to watch of two quick point guards capable of having big games.

Jae Crowder vs Nicolas Batum
Batum has also been playing very well and is averaging 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 0.9 steals a game. He scored 21 points on 9-21 shooting with 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the first game between these two teams.

Players to Watch
Frank Kaminsky is averaging 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists on the season. He had a big game against the Celtics in their last meeting with 23 points and 7 rebounds off the bench. Sunday against the Wizards he had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Big Al Jefferson is averaging 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists and just loves playing his former team.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to getting a win. The Celtics have to get stops, especially down the stretch. The Celtics left their defense at home for the most part in the high-scoring game vs the Hawks. They need to get back to the tough team defense that has made them so tough to play this season. Defense wins games.

Rebound - The Celtics can't run or score if they don't have the ball. They must crash the boards as a team and put out the extra effort it takes to get the rebounds. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics must put out more effort than the Hornets on the boards if they want to win this game.

Be Aggressive - When the Celtics are aggressive going after loose balls, crashing the boards, defending and taking the ball hard to the hoop, they are very tough to beat. They have to be the more aggressive team, and they have to be the team that plays harder and wants the win more. The Hornets commit the fewest turnovers in the league, and the Celtics force the most turnovers. The Celtics need to be aggressive in going after the ball and forcing the Hornets to turn the ball over.

Move the Ball
- The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man. They struggle to score when the ball stops moving. When the Celtics have fewer than 20 assists, they usually struggle, but when they have more than 20 assists they play very well. It's not a coincidence that they win when their assist total is higher.

Limit Turnovers
- At the same time, the Celtics have to limit turnovers. They give away way too many points by making careless passes and by losing focus. The Celtics have to take care of the ball and limit their turnovers to keep the Hornets from getting fast break and easy points.

Home Court Factor - The Celtics are playing at home and should get a boost from the home crowd. Also, both of these teams are playing for that 4th spot and home court in the first round of the playoffs. This has to motivate the Celtics to play harder and get that 4th seed.

Officiating - The officiating is always an X-factor in every game. Will the refs let them play or will they call every little bit of contact. Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. The Celtics need to adapt to the way the game is called and not let the refs take them out of the game.

Official Report
Marc Davis

Marc Davis has been an NBA official for the past 17 seasons, working 977 regular season games, 55 Playoff games, and the 2007 NBA All-Star Game. Davis has officiated four Finals games during his career. In addition to his NBA experience, Davis has three years of CBA officiating experience and three years of collegiate basketball officiating experience in the OVC and TAAC Junior Colleges. He grew up in Chicago and is still active in the Chicago area.

Davis was investigated for threatening to whoop Allen Iverson's a** when AI complained about a call in a game in 2005, but was not suspended for it. The Celtics history with Davis goes way back also. In 2009, Davis was seen after a Celtics/Bulls game with his family all decked out in Bulls gear. It was Davis that Rajon Rondo bumped in a terribly officiated playoff game vs Atlanta and was ejected and suspended for it.

In a game three seasons ago against the Bulls, the officiating was terrible. With 12 seconds left, Pierce was trapped and fouled, including a busted lip, right in front of Davis with no call. Rondo was signalling for a time out right in Davis' face but they called a jump ball instead of calling the foul or the time out. Even Hubie Brown was talking about how bad the calls were the entire game and Hubie doesn't usually comment on the officiating.
Two seasons ago, in a game against the Kings, Davis even got to the mild mannered Brad Stevens. Davis ignored obvious pushing and shoving by DeMarcus Cousins all night. At one point, Gerald Wallace pointed out an obvious foul by Cousins and was tossed to which Stevens pointed out that he could have thrown out Cousins all game and was tossed as well. He was decent in each of his games last season and, if anything, in a couple of the games, he gave the Celtics the benefit of the doubt. I wonder if his problem was with Rondo all along and with Rondo gone, he's feeling a kind of kinship with the Celtics. Stranger things have happened,

Davis' only games with the Celtics this season was a win in the preseason over the Nets, a 1 point win over the Knicks, and a win at Philly. All 3 games were reasonably well officiated. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 9-1 in their last 10 games with Davis while the Hornets are 2-3 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 with Davis. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season is 43-21.

Michael Smith

A winner of the Vanguard Club Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of sports, Michael Smith has officiated 1,296 regular season and 32 playoff games, as well as the 1997 Schick Rookie Game, the 2000 Mexico Challenge and the 2003 NBA Europe Games.

In addition to his 22 seasons of NBA officiating experience, Smith has five years of CBA officiating experience and eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big Ten, SEC and Conference USA. Smith also has 10 years of high school officiating experience and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1990 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. Smith’s athletic experience includes playing basketball and baseball at South Side High School in Memphis,Tenn.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 games with Smith on the court. Smith called a game last season against the Hawks in which the Celtics took 31 free throws to 12 for the Hawks and the Celtics got the benefit of several questionable calls. The first 3 games last season were evenly officiated. The last one against Cleveland was terrible. Tommy described it this way: "I don't recall a game when there was such a plethora of terrible calls throughout." The Cavs shot 26 free throws to 22 for the Celtics and the bad calls went both ways. He can be very good or very bad, depending on the night. The Hornets are 4-1 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Smith. Smith was one of the referees Mark Cuban received a $75,000 fine for criticizing as being unprofessional and biased in a Mavs game against OKC last season. His home W/L record is 32-24.

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor enters his third NBA season having officiated 109 regular season games. Taylor joins the full-time staff after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League, already having officiated 17 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. He also serves as an FIBA International Basketball Referee.

While at Middle Tennessee State University, where he received a BA in Public Relations, Taylor was a member of the Theta Iota Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity, where he coordinated many events, headlined by the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s "Bike to Jack and Back" as the Philanthropic chair.

In a game last season against the Magic the officiating was terrible. The Celtics were mugged all night with no calls while they were called for ticky tack contact with the Magic. Orlando shot 28 free throws to 20 for the Celtics, but 6 of the Celtics' free throws were intentional fouls at the end of the game. Otherwise he wasn't bad last season.

In his first game with the Celtics this season, the loss to Dallas, the officiating was terrible. After they called 2 clean blocks by the Celtics fouls, Tommy yelled, "That's 2 strikes against them." Then after failing to call a Parsons elbow to Smart's head right in front of Taylor, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston. Here are just a couple comments from many from Mavs fans:

"Curious sequence there. Phantom foul on Bradley, Lee gets mugged - no call, and ticky tack foul on Lee"

"I'd be pissed if I was a Celtics fan at this officiating."

"I'll take the win but without the refs help, we lose this one."

In the game against Brooklyn this season, there were lots of bad calls going both ways. The refs called a lot of ticky tack fouls on both teams that disrupted the flow of the game. He also called a game vs Denver where there were a lot of bad calls on both teams but mostly on the Celtics with Denver shooting32 free throws to 20 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 3-3 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Taylor. The Hornets are 2-3 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Taylor. Unlike many young refs, he is not influenced by the home crowd with a home W/L record this season of 27-27.

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