Atlanta Hawks (2-1) at Boston Celtics (1-2)
Sunday, April 24. 2016
6:00 PM ET
Round 1 Game #4 Home Game #2
TV: TNT, CSNNE, FSSE, Sportsnet One
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 92.9 FM The Game
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Bennie Adams, Jason Phillips
After a very eventful and exciting game 3 on Friday, the Celtics and Hawks return to the TD Garden for a game 4 matchup as the Celtics try to even the series. There were 3 flagrant fouls and 2 technicals called in the game and another flagrant called after the fact on Isaiah's hit to Schroder's head.
The Hawks had been calling for Isaiah to be suspended for this game but the league assessed him a flagrant foul after the fact instead of a suspension and I'm sure that will up the tension in this game. Marcus Smart was also assessed a $5000 fine for a painfully obvious flop in the game which could have the refs watching him a bit closer.
Brad Stevens changed up the starting lineup in game 3 and it worked out quite well for the Celtics. Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko replaced Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger as starters which spread the floor and opened up the lanes for Isaiah who scored a career high 42 points to lead the Celtics to a win.
The Celtics are still missing Avery Bradley who said he hoped to play again in this series but has been ruled out for this game. Kelly Olynyk is making some progress and is available to play according to Brad Stevens. It appears that Isaiah Thomas has found a way to compensate for the wrist injury that has been plaguing him. Jae Crowder has been doing extra shooting practice to try to find a way to be effective with the ankle that is still only 75-80% healed. Al Horford missed practice on Saturday with a groin injury but is listed as probable for this game.
PG: Isaiah Thomas............................................ SG: Evan Turner
C: Amir Johnson
SF: Jae Crowder.............................................. PF: Jonas Jerebko
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) available
Avery Bradley (hamstring) out
PG: Jeff Teague ..................................................... SG: Kyle Korver
C: Al Horford
SF: Kent Bazemore .......................................... PF: Paul Millsap
Tim Hardaway Jr
Tiago Splitter (hip) out
Al Horford (groin) probable
Amir Johnson/Jonas Jerebko vs Al Horford/Paul Millsap
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 in regular season. Millsap has not been a big factor on offense in the series, but he is still getting the job done on the defensive end. The Celtics are shooting 34.3% with Millsap on the court and 48.5% when he's on the bench. Horford missed practice with a groin injury but is expected to be ready to play in this game. Jonas in the starting lineup paid big dividends in game 3 and they need to continue to play hard, hit their shots and limit the effectiveness of the Hawks' big men.
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeff Teague
Teague is a handful for anyone to guard but the Celtics did a decent job of matching his scoring and then some in game 3 with Isaiah having more room to score. It will be key for Isaiah to get his offense going once again. He may not score 42 again, but he needs to score and play well for the Celtics to have a chance.
Jae Crowder vs Kyle Korver
After being ineffective in the final game of the regular season and in game 1 of the series, Korver has found his shot and has hit 5 threes for 17 points two games in a row. Jae has been working hard to try to find his own shot while still dealing with the sore ankle that has been affecting his shot. Jae needs to limit Korver's open looks while at the same time, knocking down some shots on the other end.
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 and Play Hard 48 Minutes - The Celtics finally got a strong start in game 3, jumping out to as many as 20 points ahead but in the middle of the game, the Celtics let the Hawks come back and make the game much closer than it should have been. The Celtics need to start strong and play hard throughout the game until the final buzzer.
Defense - Defense wins games. It is the key to winning every game. The Celtics are still missing 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. The Hawks definitely raised their defense to the next level in game 2 and the Celtics need to step up their game.
Focus on Offense - The Celtics did much better keeping their focus on offense in game 3. Their shots fell and that opened up the floor for more drives to the basket. They have to continue to focus on hitting shots whether inside or out. They also have to be aware of the Hawks' shot blockers and try to avoid a repeat of the 15 blocked shots in game 2.
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 Hawks aren't a great rebounding team and yet they beat the Celtics on the boards in both games 1 and 2. The Celtics won the battle of the boards by 3 in game 3. The Celtics need to box out and fight for every rebound to prevent 2nd chance points for the Hawks and to give themselves extra possessions. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics must put out the extra effort to beat the Hawks to the rebounds.
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. The officiating wasn't quite as bad in the second game where they let a lot of contact go both ways. Game 3 officiating missed a lot on both teams but the Celtics seemed to get the benefit on several calls. With how chippy game 3 was and the controversy over Isaiah not being suspended, it will be interesting to see how they call this game. Hopefully they will let them play and call it fairly.
"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!"
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. The last game he called for the Celtics was the win against the Warriors and the officiating in that game was very good and they let them play. There were a few questionable calls both ways but a few more going the Celtics way. The Celtics shot 30 free throws to 13 for the Warriors. So, I guess the bottom line is that McCutchen can be very good, but he also can be very bad. The Celtics are 4-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with McCutchen on the court. The Hawks are 2-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with him. McCutchen is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 45-25.
A former math instructor at Southern University, Bennie Adams joined the NBA officiating staff 21 seasons ago, and since then has officiated 1,171 regular season and nine Playoff games In addition, he has been a USA Basketball official since 1995. Adams has also officiated the 2008 NBA Europe Live Tour and the 2002 NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge. Adams officiated in the CBA for three years, and worked the 1996 CBA Finals. He also has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Trans America Athletic and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. Adams also has 10 years of high school officiating experience in Louisiana. Adams has both a Masters and Bachelors degree in mathematics from Southern University.
Adams tends to be inconsistent especially on charge/block calls. He is on Tommy Heinsohn's naughty list (along with a lot of others). In one game, Tommy went ballistic yelling at the top of his lungs "GO BACK TO YOUR MOMMA BENNIE ADAMS!!!" However, he hasn't been particularly bad in most of his recent games with the Celtics. The last game he called was the win over the Clippers. There were bad calls all game long on both teams with more going against the Celtics than the Clippers. There was no flow to the game with too many fouls called. On one play, Isaiah was mauled under the basket and Adams called the foul on Isaiah and then called a technical on him when he complained. To which Tommy yelled "Bennie Adams has been around too long!" Clippers shot 50 free throws to 37 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Adams. The Hawks are 2-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 34-24.
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 0-3 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 Hawks are 4-0 this season and are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Phillips. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 46-18.