Boston Celtics (33-18) at Sacramento Kings (20-32)
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #52, Road Game #25
TV: CSNNE, CSNCA, NBA-LP 767(DTV)/757(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 1140 AM
Golden 1 Center
Bennie Adams, Brett Nansel, Kevin Scott
The Celtics start a 4 game Western road trip with a stop in Sacramento to take on the Kings. Last season the Celtics won the series 2-0, including one game played in Mexico City as part of the NBA's Global Games. The Celtics beat the Kings 97-92 in Boston on December 2.
The Celtics have won their last 7 games and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Kings lost their last game and are 4-6 in their last 10. The Celtics are 14-10 on the road while the Kings are 9-15 at home.
DeMarcus Cousins will not be playing in this game as he received his 15th and 16th technicals in a game versus the Bulls on Monday and is suspended by the league for this game. For the rest of the season he will be suspended for one game for every 2 technicals that he receives. The Kings will miss his 27.9 points and 10.7 rebounds. With Cousins out, I'm guessing that Willie Cauley-Stein will fill in for him in the starting lineup.
Also out for the Kings are Omri Casspi (foot), Garrett Temple (hamstring) and Rudy Gay, who is out for the season with an Achilles injury. Avery Bradley did not travel with the team and will be out for this game. Brad Stevens said that he expects him to be out until after the All Star break. Jonas Jerebko injured his nose in Sunday's game against the Clippers but tweeted that he is ready to play although he is listed as a game time decision.
Perhaps the biggest story is the return of Isaiah Thomas to the team that chose him with the 60th pick in the draft. He has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after the Kings let him walk for virtually nothing. This will be his first time back to Sacramento as the All Star leader of the Celtics as these two teams played in Mexico City last season which counted as a home game for the Kings.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Isaiah Thomas / Jaylen Brown / Jae Crowder / Al Horford / Amir Johnson
Avery Bradley (Achilles) game time decision
Jonas Jerebko (nose) game time decision
Probable Kings Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Darren Collison /Ben McLemore / Arron Afflalo/ Willie Caulie-Stein/ Kosta Koufos
Omri Casspi (foot) out
Rudy Gay (Achilles) out
Garrett Temple (hamstring) out
DeMarcus Cousins (suspended) out
Isaiah is coming back to where he started in the NBA as the 60th pick in the draft and will be motivated to get a win against his former team. Hopefully his teammates will be motivated to get that win for him as well. Collison is averaging 13.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He is shooting 47.8% from the field and 42.1% from beyond the arc.
Marcus Smart vs Matt Barnes
Barnes comes off the bench but plays a big role for the Kings. In the game in Boston, Barnes scored 13 points and dished out 5 assists, but also pulled down 16 rebounds. Barnes is capable of having a big game, especially with Cousins out and the Kings needing production from someone else. Marcus needs to defend him well without letting him get into his head, as Barnes is known to do whenever he can.
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. With Cousins out for the Kings it will be a little easier, but the Celtics still must put out extra effort to win the battle of the boards.
Defense - The Celtics need to make defense their priority. Defense wins games. Their defense has been better in recent games and they must continue to play tough team defense if they want to get a win in this game.
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.
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 best shot. They need to run on offense to get easy shots before the Kings' defense can set up. They also need to run on defense to keep the Kings from getting into their sets and to keep them from getting easy baskets. They also have to move the ball. When they tend to dribble too much, the rest of their game seems to become stagnant.
Road Game - The Celtics are on the road and playing much later than they are used to. They need to focus on playing their game and block out the distractions that travel and playing on the road present.
Over-confidence - The Celtics have won 7 games in a row and they are playing a team that is below .500 and that is missing their star player. All of those factors could lead to the Celtics taking the Kings for granted and being outplayed. If they do, they may end up with a loss. They have to come out strong and not let this become a trap game.
Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Whether because of the tendencies of individual refs, or an agenda on behalf of the refs or the league, each game is officiated differently and that can favor or throw a team off on any given night.
Official Report: Lead official, Bennie Adams, tends to be inconsistent especially on charge/block calls. Last season in a game vs the Clippers, he was even worse than usual. 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!" Although, the Celtics are 9-1 in their last 10 games with Adams. Brett Nansel is a new ref this season who may be influenced by the home crowd. Kevin Scott has been a decent ref in his 6 years in the league.