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Celtics look to end losing streak as they visit the Clippers

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The Celtics continue their Western road trip with a visit to Doc Rivers and the LA Clippers.

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Celtics take on their former coach, Doc Rivers, and the LA Clippers in their second game on the road trip. This is the first of 2 games between these two teams this season. They will play in Boston on February 14. They split the two games last season 1-1 with each team winning on their home court.

The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to back games, having played the Lakers in the same building on Tuesday night. The Celtics are 5-3 on the second night of back to back games and they are 1-1 when both games are on the road.

The Celtics are 16-6 on the road and 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are 12-4 against Western Conference teams. The Clippers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 14-9 at home. They are 6-8 against Eastern Conference teams. The Clippers are coming off a loss while the Celtics are on a 4 game losing streak after losing to the Lakers on Tuesday night.

The Celtics are finally mostly healthy with only Gordon Hayward on the injured list with the ankle injury. Al Horford took a hard hit to his head at the end of the Lakers game and hopefully won’t have any concussion symptoms from it. Also Kyrie Irving tweaked his knee at one point in the game but so far, nothing is listed so far as to either being out for this one.

The Clippers, on the other hand, have been hard hit with injuries. Blake Griffin has been in and out of the lineup all season but is now back in their starting lineup. Patrick Beverly (knee), Jawun Evans (abdomen), Danilo Gallinari (glute), and Austin Rivers (ankle) are all listed as out for this game. DeAndre Jordan (ankle) is listed as doubtful.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Shane Larkin
Abdel Nader
Semi Ojeleye
Daniel Theis
Guerschon Yabusele
Terry Rozier
Marcus Smart
Marcus Morris
Jarell Eddie

Injuries
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out

Two Way Players
Kadeem Allen
Jabari Bird

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Clippers Starters

Clippers Reserves
Sam Dekker
Montezl Harrell
Brice Johnson
Sindarius Thornwell
Lou Williams

Injuries
Patrick Beverley (knee) out
Jawun Evans (abdomen) out
Danilo Gallinari (glute) out
Austin Rivers (ankle) out
DeAndre Jordan (ankle) doubtful
CJ Williams (ankle) game time decision

Head Coach
Doc Rivers

Key Matchups

Al Horford vs Blake Griffin
Griffin is averaging 22.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 5.5 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.

Marcus Smart vs Lou Williams
In his 13th season, Lou Williams is averaging career highs in points (23.3), assists (5.1), and 3 point percentage (40.5%). Since December 22, Williams is leading the NBA in scoring with 29.6 points per game. He scored 50 points in a win over the Warriors on January 10th. On Saturday It will be up to Marcus Smart to limit his scoring off the bench.

Honorable Mention
Jaylen Brown vs Tyrone Wallace
Wallace is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.11 steals. He is shooting 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games and the Celtics need to play tough team defense. The Clippers average 107.8 points per game and so the Celtics will need to slow them down and not get into a shoot out with them. The Celtics effort on the defensive end has been on and off recently. They will need to make defense 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 Celtics were out-rebounded by 10 against the Lakers. They can’t allow the Clippers to beat them to the boards because they will easily turn rebounds into points. The Clippers average 49 points in the paint (3rd) and 13.9 second chance points (6th). The Celtics have to limit the Clippers in those two areas by crashing 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. In the Celtics 4 game losing streak, they have allowed their opponents to play with more energy and more effort than them. The Celtics will have to play harder and with more effort if they want to end this losing streak.

Careful Ball Movement - 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 as they are 10th in the league with 12.8 fast break points per game.

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
Fatigue and Focus - The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to back games. Plus, they are playing in a different time zone than they are used to. Fatigue could become a factor for the Celtics but hopefully their depth will allow them to have enough in the tank to get the win.

Injuries - The Celtics are close to full strength minus Gordon Hayward. Hopefully they are all past the flu and Kyrie’s shoulder and Jayson’s knee are in good shape. Al Horford took a hit to the head against the Lakers and Kyrie tweaked his knee but hopefully neither will keep them out for this game. The Clippers, on the other hand have 4 players listed as out with a 5th listed as doubtful and a sixth is a game time decision. The Celtics would catch a lucky break if DeAndre Jordon has to sit this one out

Injured Animal Factor - The Clippers are shorthanded with at least 4 players out and possibly 6, including their star center. Often teams who are short handed come out playing like a wounded animal and so the Celtics have to be ready for an energized and aggressive Clippers team trying to get their coach a win over his former team.