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The Celtics host the Clippers for Paul Pierce's final game at the TD Garden.

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The Celtics close out their 4 game home stand in style with Paul Pierce's final trip to the TD Garden with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

at
Los Angeles Clippers (31-19) at Boston Celtics (32-18)
Sunday, February 5, 2017
2:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #51, Home Game #27
TV: ABC
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN 570
TD Garden
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Pat Fraher, Marat Kogut


The Celtics close out their 4 game home stand in style with Paul Pierce's final trip to the TD Garden with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are beginning a 5 game road trip and will travel to Toronto to take on the Celtics division rival Raptors on Monday. The Celtics and Clippers will meet one more time on March 6 at the Staples Center. The Celtics will begin a 4 game road trip in Sacramento on Wednesday.

These two teams were 1-1 last season With each team winning on their home court. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Clippers are 5-5 in their last 10. The Celtics have won 6 straight while the Clippers are coming off a 144-98 drubbing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics are 18-8 at home while the Clippers are 14-11 on the road.

The Clippers will be without their All Star point guard as Chris Paul is sitting out with a ligament tear in his thumb. Over the past 2 seasons, the Clippers are 79-35 with CP3 in the lineup and 7-17 without him. Brice Johnson is also out with a herniated disc in his back. Avery Bradley is still listed as a game time decision with the Achilles injury that kept him out for most of the month of January.

The Celtics starting lineup is the same one that has started the past few games. There is the possibility that Avery may return and take Jaylen's place at shooting guard. Also, Brad Stevens has said that from time to time he may switch up the starting center and power forward depending on matchups but I think he will probably stick with Amir and Al for this one. The Clippers starting lineup is the same one that has started the last 2 games and they are 1-1 with this lineup.

The focal point of this game will be the return of Paul Pierce to the Garden for perhaps the final time. There should be tributes to the Celtics legend as he makes his final trip to Boston before retiring at the end of this season. Hopefully the Celtics can keep their focus and play well in spite of all the hoopla surrounding the return of "The Captain and The Truth."

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Raymond Felton

Shooting Guard
vs
Jaylen Brown vs JJ Redick

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Austin Rivers

Power Forward
vs
Al Horford vs Blake Griffin

Center
vs
Amir Johnson vs DeAndre Jordan


Celtics Reserves
Marcus Smart
Gerald Green
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey

Injuries
Avery Bradley (Achilles) game time decision

Head Coach

Brad Stevens


Clippers Reserves
Alan Anderson
Brandon Bass
Jamal Crawford
Wesley Johnson
Luc Mbah a Moute
Paul Pierce
Marreese Speights
Diamond Stone

Injuries

Brice Johnson (back) out
Chris Paul (thumb) out

Head Coach
Doc Rivers

Key Matchups
vs
Al Horford vs Blake Griffin
Griffin is averaging 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. He is very athletic and is always a threat to score and to grab rebounds for second chance points. The Celtics need to keep him off the boards and must stay with him on defense to keep him from having a big game.

vs
Jaylen Brown vs JJ Redick
Redick is shooting the ball very well and is averaging 15.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He is shooting 43.5% from beyond the arc and 45% from the field. Whether it is Jaylen, Avery or Marcus, they have to play tough defense on him or he will make them pay with a big game.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is tough inside on the boards and on defense. He is averaging 12.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. The key will be to box him out and keep him off the boards and also keep him from getting easy baskets around the hoop.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games and the Celtics need to play tough team defense. The Clippers average 108.4 points per game and so the Celtics will need to slow them down and not get into a shoot out with them. The Celtics defense has been up and down this season but they will need to make it a priority in this game.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and so the Celtics must put out the extra effort on the boards to give themselves extra possessions as well as to limit the Clippers fast break opportunities and second chance points. The Clippers will easily turn rebounds into points. The Clippers average 43.4 rebounds per game while the Celtics average 41.4 rebounds per game. They have to put in the work to win the battle of the boards.

Energy and Effort - The Celtics have to come out with energy and have to play harder than the Clippers. 100% effort from every Celtic will be needed to get a win in this one. They have to be the more aggressive team and be the team that wants it more. The Celtics will have to play harder and with more effort than they did against the Lakers or they will end up with a loss.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics need to move the ball to find the open man but they need to make careful passes and not turn the ball over. At times the Celtics seem to lose focus and get careless and turn the ball over several times in a row. The Clippers will turn those miscues into points on the other end.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics seem to play very well at times, sometimes starting off strong and sometimes finishing strong. But then at other times, they seem to fade away after a fast start or they start out sluggish and have to spend the rest of the game playing catch up. They have to make an effort to play hard and keep their focus from the starting tip until the final buzzer.

X-Factors
Focus- There is likely to be a lot of excitement with the return of Paul Pierce to the Garden for what will more than likely be his final game there. When Kobe made his final visit to the Garden the Celtics seemed to lose focus and lost to a team they should have beaten. Also, I'm sure they will be thinking of the Patriots and the Super Bowl and all the All Star preparation but with the Wizards, Raptors and Hawks all right behind them and coming on strong, they can't afford to lose focus. They have to focus on the task at hand and play their very best.

Officiating - The officiating is an x factor for every game. Every officiating crew calls games differently. Some call every little foul making it difficult to get any rhythm and some let the teams play. Some refs have an agenda and call the game for or against a particular team or player. And there are always star calls no matter who the referees are. Regardless of how the game is called, the Celtics need to play through it and keep their focus.