Boston Celtics (0-1) at Atlanta Hawks (1-0)
Tuesday, April 19. 2016
7:00 PM ET
Round 1 Game #2 Road Game #2
TV: TNT, CSNNE, FSSE, TSN
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 92.9 FM The Game
Referees: Scott Foster, Tony Brothers, Josh Tiven
The Celtics entered game 1 of this series with a few bumps and bruises but with no injuries reported. The Celtics come into game 2 at considerably less than full strength. After trying to block a shot in game 1, Avery Bradley had to be helped off the court with what is reported as a significant hamstring injury. He is definitely out for this game and probably for the series. Without Bradley, the Celtics lose one of their best defenders, their second leading scorer, and one of their team leaders.
Brad Stevens has said that he may go with a traditional lineup or he may still go with small ball. There are 4 possibilities to start in place of the injured Avery Bradley: Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, and RJ Hunter. I've seen cases made for each of them. My guess is that it will be Marcus Smart but Evan Turner started when Jae Crowder was out and Rozier has played very well when given the chance this season and that would keep the second unit pretty much intact.
Regardless of who starts in Avery's place, Rozier, Hunter and Tyler Zeller need to be ready for an increased role in this game. Along with Avery's injury, Marcus Smart injured his finger and missed Sunday's practice. He practiced on Monday, however, and is expected to play in this game. Kelly Olynyk aggravated the shoulder injury that kept him out of 12 games after the All Star break. He missed practice on both Sunday and Monday and is questionable for this game. Jae Crowder is also still dealing with the ankle injury that sidelined him for 8 games. He said that he is probably 75 or 80 percent right now.
It seems as though the chips are stacked against the Celtics but they have defied the odds all year and seem to be at their best when their backs are against the wall. I certainly wouldn't bet against them. The Celtics went 3-3 without Bradley this season, including the Celtics' only win over the Hawks back in November. They also beat Golden State with Jae Crowder, one of their best defenders, sitting out the game.
The Hawks coach, Mike Budenholzer, has said that he may go with a Teague/Schroder back court to try to exploit the loss of Bradley. Schroder was a non-factor in game 1 as he missed all 6 of his field goal attempts in 11 minutes of play. Kyle Korver also struggled with just 2 points on 1-10 shooting. Paul Millsap also had just 14 points and 7 rebounds after averaging 25.3 points and 11 rebounds over the Hawks 3 wins in the regular season.
Probable Starting Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague
Marcus Smart vs Kyle Korver
Jae Crowder vs Kent Bazemore
Amir Johnson vs Paul Millsap
Jared Sullinger vs Al Horford
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) game time decision
Marcus Smart (finger) probable
Avery Bradley (hamstring) out
Tim Hardaway Jr
Tiago Splitter (hip) out
Amir Johnson/Jared Sullinger vs Paul Millsap/Amir Johnson
The Celtics bigs have got to defend well against the Hawks big men. Millsap and Horford can hit from outside and are also very strong going to the basket. They have both had big games against the Celtics and it will be crucial for the Celtics to limit their effectiveness. Jared and Amir also have to hit their shots and play well on the offensive end.
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague
Teague is a handful for anyone to guard and so expect either Rozier or Smart, if they start to defend Teague and try to slow him down. It will be key for Isaiah to get his offense going. He has been dealing with a sore wrist on his shooting hand and scored 27 in game one, shooting just 8-21. They Celtics will need Isaiah to come up big for them in this game.
The Celtics will need to get production from their reserves in order to have a chance at getting a win. Their depth takes a hit with Avery out and Kelly questionable but each player must step up and contribute. The Hawks got big games from Mike Scott and Tabo Sefolosha off their bench in game 1 and the Celtics need someone to step up and come up big for them in this game.
Brad Stevens vs Mike Budenholzer
With the Celtics being short handed, Brad needs to make adjustments and use the right rotations to get the most out of the players and make up for the absence and limitations due to injuries. Coaching is going to be very important in this game with both coaches trying to make adjustments to counter the adjustments made by the opposing coach.
Keys to the Game
Start Strong - For two straight games, the Celtics have had to come back from big deficits. They were able to come back from 26 down and win by 10 against the Heat, but couldn't get the win after coming back from 19 down against the Hawks. The Celtics can't keep starting slow and getting behind big and expect to be able to come back and win. They need to come out strong to start the game and keep the effort up right until the final buzzer.
Defense - Defense wins games. It is the key to winning every game. The Celtics will miss Avery's defense but need to have every player step up and work harder to get stops as a team. Rozier has been solid on defense in the minutes he's played and Smart is still one of the better defenders in the league. They need to step up their game and get stops to keep the Hawks from having their way on offense.
Focus on Offense - The Celtics had open shots for the most part in the first half but shot just 21%. They have to find someone with a hot hand besides Isaiah to be able to score. The Celtics also have to realize that if the 3 pointers aren't falling, they need to go to the basket. The Hawks had 52 points in the paint to just 36 for the Celtics. The Celtics have to get into the paint more, especially if the 3's aren't falling. They have to focus on hitting shots whether inside or out.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the team that plays harder and that wants this win more, especially to start the game and then keep it up until the final buzzer. They have to be aggressive in diving for loose balls, in going to the basket, in getting stops on the defensive end, and in going after rebounds. They have to play harder and be more aggressive from start to finish. Their best hope to beat the Hawks is to play harder and with more energy.
Rebound - The Celtics need to put out the extra effort to grab rebounds. The Raptors aren't a great rebounding team and yet they beat the Celtics on the boards in game 1. The Celtics need to box out and fight for every rebound to prevent 2nd chance points for the Raptors and to give themselves extra possessions.
Injuries - The Celtics will miss Avery Bradley and will need every player to step up to help fill in for him. But, the injuries to Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder could have an effect on the team, even if they are able to play. The Celtics need every one of them to be effective and overcome the limitations that the injuries cause.
Officiating - I say this every game but the officiating is an x-factor in every single game. We saw this first hand in game 1. The officials favored the Hawks the entire game and even the Hawks fans admitted it in their forums. Here are a few comments from the Hawks fans.
The league admitted to making 3 crucial bad calls and non-calls against the Celtics in the final 2 minutes of the 1 point loss. I believe if the game was called fairly and competently the Celtics would have won it. In my opinion they owe us one and hopefully the Celtics get a fair shake in this one.
"Foul calls definitely going our way early."
"Celtics getting manhandled in the paint with no calls."
"[dang], Hawks getting all the calls."
"All the calls going our way and still the lead shrinks."
"Mommy, can we keep this referee crew?"
"Man, I'm loving these refs!"
"Refs trying to give us the game and we blowing it!"
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. It was evenly officiated with both teams being allowed to play without being called for ticky tack fouls. 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 last game he called for the Celtics was against the Cavaliers. The officiating was terrible in that game. The free throws were 29-11 going into the 4th quarter. They allowed the Cavs to hack and push and mug the Celtics while not allowing any contact by the Celtics.
Foster and Brothers (also calling this game) were on a crew that blew 4 important calls in overtime of game 2 of last year's finals which the league admitted after the fact. Even though Foster's home W/L record is 37-24 with the home team winning more, home teams have won just 1 out of the last 13 playoff games that Foster has worked. The Celtics are 2-1 this season, and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Foster. The Hawks are 2-5 this season and 3-7 in their last 10.
Tony Brothers is entering his 22nd season as an NBA official and has officiated 1,270 regular season games, 84 Playoff games and five NBA Finals games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Mexico Challenge, 1998 Schick Rookie Game, 1999 McDonald’s Championship in Milan, Italy and the 2008 China Games.Prior to joining the NBA, Brothers spent four years officiating in the CBA, including three CBA Finals and a CBA All-Star Game. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience at the Junior College level. Brothers also has seven years of high school officiating experience in Virginia, including three state tournaments.
Two seasons ago, in a game vs the Knicks, twice Brothers made the correct call from across the court after Dick Bavetta, who was standing right on top of it, missed the call. All in all, Brothers used to be one of the better refs in the league, but seems to be getting worse and worse as the seasons go on. In a game last season against the Lakers, he was terrible. He was the referee who ejected Isaiah Thomas on a bogus technical call, which has since been rescinded. He also missed a clear travel and double dribble by Lin right in front of him at a very crucial time. There were bad calls and phantom calls all game. The Lakers shot 38 free throws to 27 for the Celtics. Even the Lakers fans were complaining about the officiating going their way all game. Here is a comment from the Lakers boards that says it all, "The Refs are screwing our tank."
This season, in 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 the ref, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Here are just a couple comments from many from Mavs fans:
Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston, even after several intentional fouls by Boston at the end. Brother was also the crew chief in the game against the Timberwolves. 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. Again, the Timberwolves fans said it best:
"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."
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. In a Pacers game this season, they mostly let both sides play but missed a couple of big calls that even the ESPN announcers mentioned. One was an out of bounds play and the other was an offensive foul against Amir that was not called. Other than a few glaring calls, they weren't all that bad in that game. It's funny that before the game, both fan bases were bemoaning the fact that Brothers was one of the refs.
"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."
He called a game vs the Kings this season and again, the officiating was terrible. The officials allowed a lot of contact by the Kings but none by the Celtics. Again, the Kings fans said it best:
"Hahaha these refe are bad. That was definitely a foul on Rondo."
"We can use all the help we can get. I imagine Boston fans aren't too happy with the officiating today."
"I'd be furious if I was a Boston fan."
The free throws at the end of the 3rd quarter 17-5 in favor of the Kings. After several intentional fouls by the Celtics to stop the clock, the final total was 19-15 in favor of Sacramento. The Celtics took no free throws in either the 2nd or 3rd quarters. The last game he called was against Portland. They let them play early, but tightened it up towards the end. They gave the Celtics the benefit of several no calls down the stretch. The Celtics shot 24 free throws to 29 for the Blazers. Portland fans had a lot of complaints about the officiating.
You never know what you will get with Brothers as a ref. Sometimes he is good and sometimes he is very bad. The Celtics are 5-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 with Brothers. The Hawks are 4-3 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 38-25.
Joshua Tiven is entering his fifth NBA season having officiated 227 NBA games and one playoff game. Tiven has seven years of NCAA officiating experience, as well as two years of WNBA officiating experience and two seasons of WNBA Playoff experience. He also has worked three NBA D-League Finals, as well as the 2007-08 NBA D-League All-Star Game.
Tiven lives in Connecticut and he has a twin brother who is a big Celtics fan and who has been shown in the crowd at the Garden when Tiven was officiating. Tiven also has little controversy in his time in the league and has been fairly good in the games he has called for the Celtics. In the game this season vs the Spurs, however, the officiating was one sided toward the Spurs with the Spurs allowed a lot of contact and the Celtics called for any contact. In spite of the Celtics being aggressive with 52 points in the paint to 38 for the Spurs, the Celtics shot just 14 free throws to 25 for the Spurs. At the half the free throws were 14-3 in favor of the Spurs. He called a game against the Wizards that was terribly officiated at the end but most of the bad calls were made by Tony Brothers, who was the lead referee (and also calling this game).
The Celtics are 3-3 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Tiven. The Hawks are 1-3 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Tiven. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 42-25.