The Celtics go for a league high 6 straight wins as they host the Sacramento Kings. The Kings, on the other hand, will be trying to avoid their 6th straight loss. Last season, these teams tied the series 1-1 with each team winning on their home court. The Celtics have won 9 straight vs the Kings at the TD Garden.
The Kings are playing in the second of back to back games on the road. They lost to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday 101-83 and then had to travel to Boston afterwards. This is their second back to back set of the season and they are 0-1 so far on the second night of back to backs games.
Marcus Morris is targeting this game to make his debut with the Celtics. He practiced Monday with the Red Claws and on Tuesday with the Celtics with no setbacks. He sounded confident that he could play in this game but the final decision will be made by the medical staff. Harry Giles (knee) is out for the Kings.
Both coaches have shuffled their starting lineups several times in this young season with the Kings doing so even more than the Celtics. I have included the starters from each team's last game, however, these may change before game time.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
Marcus Morris (knee) day to day
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Probable Kings Starters
PG: George Hill
SG: Buddy Hield
SF: Bogdan Bogdanovic
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Willie Cauley-Stein
Frank Mason III
Two Way Players
Harry Giles (knee) out
Al Horford vs Zach Randolph
Randolph has lost a step or two from his prime, but he is still a very strong player who can bully his way to wherever he wants to go on the court. He is averaging 9.3 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He is shooting 42% from beyond the arc and so Horford will need to stay with him both in the paint and on the perimeter.
Kyrie Irving vs George Hill
Hill is averaging 9.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He is shooting 48.6% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, so if he is open, chances are he will make the Celtics pay. Kyrie needs to continue to play his newfound defense to keep Hill from having a big game against the Celtics.
Marcus Smart vs De'Aaron Fox
Fox has quickly become the Kings’ most crucial reserve, averaging 12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He is shooting 43% from beyond the arc. He is their best and most consistent offensive weapon. However, the Celtics’ star sixth man and defender, Marcus Smart, will likely get the assignment of covering Fox and will make scoring much more difficult for the Kings' rookie.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to put out extra effort to grab the rebounds on both ends of the court. By doing so, they limit the second chance points and fast breaks for the Kings and also give themselves extra possessions. The Celtics have been rebounding very well this season with 46.4 rebounds per game, good for 6th in the league. The Kings are 21st with 42.6 rebounds per game.
Defense - The Celtics have been playing great defense so far this season. They are first in the league with a defensive rating of 95.6. The Kings are 24th with a defensive rating of 107.6. Defense wins games. The Celtics must continue to make defense a priority.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after loose balls, rebounds and also be more aggressive defensively. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and also in moving the ball. The more aggressive team usually gets the calls and also the win. The Celtics have to play like the team that wants it more.
Run and Move the Ball- The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and when they keep the ball moving to find the open man. This is especially important with the Kings playing back to back as they may tire out if the Celtics can keep them running. They also have to move the ball. When they tend to dribble too much, the rest of their game seems to become stagnant.
Home Game - The Celtics have to take care of their home court. The Celtics should get a boost from the home crowd and come out focused on protecting home court. They call it home court advantage for a reason.
Underestimating - The Kings have won just one game so far and have lost 5 straight games. They are also on the road and playing back to back. The Celtics have won 5 in a row. It would be easy for the Celtics to underestimate the Kings and not take them seriously. The Celtics have to come out and play hard just as if they were playing the Cavs or the Warriors. No let up because unexpected losses come when you underestimate the opponent!!