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Celtics look to get a win as they visit the 1st place Warriors

The Celtics are looking to get back on track as they visit the first place Golden State Warriors.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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Boston Celtics (40-24) at Golden State Warriors (52-11)
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #65, Road Game #35
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, CSN-BA
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 95.7 The Game
Oracle Arena
Referees: Mike Callahan, David Guthrie, Karl Lane


The Celtics continue their 5 game road trip with the 4th game in Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors just returned from a 3-2 five game road trip themselves. The Celtics are trying to snap back after losing two games in a row that they should have won.

The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Warriors are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are looking to snap a 2 game losing streak while the Warriors are looking for their 3rd straight win. The Warriors are 26-3 at home while the Celtics are 19-15 on the road. The Warriors are playing their first game at home after a 3-2 road trip and this could benefit the Celtics.. Sometimes the hardest game of the season is the first game back home after a long trip.

The Celtics have been struggling with injuries in the road trip. Avery Bradley and Al Horford both missed the loss to the Suns. Avery returned against the Clippers but Al Horford remained out with an elbow injury that he suffered against the Lakers. Jonas Jerebko joined him on the injured list with flu-like symptoms.

At Wednesday's shoot around, Horford said that he plans to play in this game. His elbow isn't 100% but he feels comfortable enough to play. Jerebko also took part in the shoot around but no word as to whether he will play. The Warriors have been playing without Kevin Durant, who injured his knee when teammate Zaza Pachulia fell on it. Damian Jones is away from the team on an assignment with the Warriors' D-League team.


Standings Reset
With a win over the Suns on Tuesday, the 3rd place Wizards pulled to within one game of the Celtics. They play back to back and take on the Nuggets tonight. The 4th place Raptors are 2.5 games behind the Celtics and play the Pelicans tonight. The 5th place Hawks are 5.5 games behind the Celtics and host the Nets tonight. With all 3 teams having a good shot at getting a win in their games, the Celtics really need a win in theirs.



Probable Starters



PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Al Horford

Celtics Reserves

Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries

Al Horford (elbow) probable
Jonas Jerebko (illness) game time decision
Head Coach
Brad Stevens



Probable Starters




PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Patrick McCaw
PF: Draymond Green
C: Zaza Pachulia

Reserves
Matt Barnes
Ian Clark
Andre Iguodala
Shaun Livingston
Kevon Looney
James Michael McAdoo
JaVale McGee
Davis West

Injuries
Kevin Durant (knee) out
Damian Jones (D-League Assignment) out

Head Coach
Steve Kerr


Probable Starters




PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Patrick McCaw
PF: Draymond Green
C: Zaza Pachulia

Reserves
Matt Barnes
Ian Clark
Andre Iguodala
Shaun Livingston
Kevon Looney
James Michael McAdoo
JaVale McGee
Davis West

Injuries
Kevin Durant (knee) out
Damian Jones (D-League Assignment) out

Head Coach
Steve Kerr

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Stephen Curry
The simple truth is that no human can guard Stephen Curry. Avery, Jae, Jaylen, Isaiah and Marcus have to do the best they can but he will still get his. Curry is averaging 24.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He is shooting 46% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. The best the Celtics can hope for is to maybe slow him down a little.

vs
Avery Bradley vs Klay Thompson
Thompson is averaging 21.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. He is shooting 46% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. Thompson, like Curry are very tough to cover and if they get going, you just have to try to limit everyone else.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Draymond Green
Green is capable of putting up big numbers if not defended well. Green is averaging 10.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.4 blocks. This may be a tough matchup for the Celtics and they will need to put maximum effort into keeping Green off the boards and out of the paint.

Keys to the Game
Defense
- The Warriors can put up points quickly and in bunches. They are averaging 117.5 points per game. It will be important for the Celtics to bring their defensive intensity into this game, especially to shut down the Warriors' fast breaks as they can get up the floor very quickly. The Celtics must especially guard the perimeter as the Warriors are very dangerous from beyond the arc. The Celtics must execute on the defensive end of the court and play tough team defense if they have any hope of winning this game.

Rebound - The Celtics need to crash the boards to keep the Warriors from igniting their fast breaks. The Celtics also need to rebound to give themselves second chance points and limit the second chance points for the Warriors. The Celtics are 5-0 when they out rebound their opponents. They have to crash the boards as a team to have a chance in this game because they won't win a shoot out.

Take Care of the Ball - The Warriors can be very disruptive by getting into the passing lanes, averaging a league best 9.7 steals per game. The Celtics need to stay focused and not give the Warriors any easy opportunities to steal the ball or to get out on the break. If the Celtics get sloppy with the ball, the Warriors will make them pay.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to come out focused and play hard from start to finish. The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team throughout the game. They must be aggressive on defense, on the boards, in chasing down loose balls, and in taking the ball to the hoop and not settling for jumpers. They allowed both the Suns and the Clippers to finish the game playing harder than them and if they allow the Warriors to play harder than them, they will get the same results. They need energy and extra effort from every player on the team.

Teamwork and Chemistry- After the loss to the Clippers, Isaiah made a comment about how it wasn't time for the coach to be experimenting with lineups and he called out everyone on the team for the loss. Hopefully the team can work through any problems and come out united and ready to play together to get a win.

X-Factors
Focus - The Celtics have to be focused on the game and not on the frustration of their last two losses and not on the controversy of Isaiah's complaints after the loss to the Clippers. They can't focus on the distractions of the road but they have to focus on playing Celtics basketball. The only way the Celtics will get a win in this game is to outwork the Warriors and stay focused on the task at hand.

Injuries - The first time these two teams met this season, the Celtics were without Al Horford and Jae Crowder. Al is planning to return to play in this game after missing the last two games with an elbow injury. Hopefully he will return and will be close to full strength. Jonas Jerebko went through shoot around and is a game time decision. .The Warriors are without Kevin Durant, which will be a break for the Celtics. Avery Bradley has been on a minutes restriction since returning from the Achilles strain and hopefully he will be able to play without a big restriction in this game.

Officiating - As always, the officiating is an x-factor. Every crew officiates differently and teams never know what to expect. Sometimes they let them play and other times they call a foul on every possession. Some games they call evenly and others they favor one team or the other. We have seen enough examples of the referees influencing the game against the Celtics recently and hopefully this game will be called fairly and they will let them play. It's like Forrest Gump's box of chocolate... you never know what you are going to get.