The Celtics come back home after their 5 game road trip to take on the Sacramento Kings for the second time in just over a week. The first game in Sacramento ended in a 1 point loss for the Celtics, which ended the Celtics 10 game win streak. With 13 seconds left in that game, Marcus Smart and Richaun Holmes were fighting for a rebound that any other time would have been called a jump ball. But in this case, they called Marcus for a foul. Brad Stevens challenged the call but they upheld it after a review.
In my opinion, it was a make up call for the Kings who lost on a controversial call two days before. Before the game, the NBA announced that a key foul on Harrison Barnes on Friday, which sent LeBron James to the line to sink two free throws to win that game, should have been called an offensive foul on James. They gave the Kings a foul on this play to make up for that bad call.
The Kings are playing in the second game of a back to back set. This is the third back to back set for them this season. They are 0-2 in the second game of the first two. They beat the Washington Wizards on Sunday night 113-106. Sacramento has lost their last 11 games in Boston. They are looking to win two straight games against the Celtics for the first time since 2012.
The Celtics have dropped to second in the East after losing 3 games on their trip out West. They are 1.5 games behind Milwaukee. The Celtics are 4-3 vs the West while the Kings are 5-3 vs the East. The Celtics are 5-0 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Kings are 3-5 on the road and also 7-3 in their last 10 games.
For the Kings, they will be without DeAaron Fox, who is out with a severe ankle sprain until at least the first week of December. Marvin Bagley III will also be out for this game and will miss the entire 4 game road trip with a fractured thumb. Trevor Ariza will also miss the road trip with a groin injury. The Kings have recalled two way player Kyle Guy.
Gordon Hayward is out of the cast and shooting again after breaking a bone in his hand. He has not been cleared for contact, however and will miss this game. Celtics fans feared for the worst after watching Kemba Walker crumble to the ground in Friday’s game at Denver. However we were lucky and the diagnosis was a sprained neck and Kemba is doubtful for this game. His availability will likely be a game time decision. Daniel Theis is listed as questionable for this game with an illness. I would guess that if he can’t play, Robert Williams will start in his place.
Romeo Langford is assigned to the Celtics G-League affiliate Red Claws but injured his ankle in the first game he played there and is expected to be out for both teams until at least December 10. With Kemba being doubtful for this game, the Celtics have recalled two way player Tremont Waters from the Red Claws for more depth at point guard. I’m guessing that Brad Wanamaker will be the starting point guard if Kemba is out, with Carsen Edwards and Waters coming off the bench.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Brad Wanamaker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
Robert Williams III
Romeo Langford (G League/ankle) out
Gordon Hayward (hand) out
Kemba Walker (neck) doubtful
Daniel Theis (illness) questionable
Two Way Players
Probable Kings Starters
PG: Cory Joseph
SG: Buddy Hield
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Nemanja Bjelica
C : Richaun Holmes
Harry Giles III
Trevor Ariza (groin) out
Marvin Bagley III (finger) out
DeAaron Fox (ankle) out
Two Way players
Marcus Smart vs Buddy Hield
Hield is averaging 19.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. He is shooting 42% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. He is capable of putting up points in bunches if not defended well. In the first game between these two teams, Hield had 35 points, which included 7 three pointers. The Celtics have to do a better job of guarding him in this game.
Jaylen Brown vs Harrison Barnes
Barnes is averaging 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He is shooting 48% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. He is coming off a 26 point game against the Wizards on Sunday. Jaylen will need to play tough defense on him along with continuing to contribute the Celtics’ offense.
Daniel Theis vs Richaun Holmes
Holmes is averaging 11.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He is shooting 65% from the field. He has not attempted a 3 this season and so won’t be used to stretch the floor. He is coming off of a 16 point, 10 rebound, and 4 block game against the Wizards. The Celtics need to stay with him especially in the paint where he is a threat to grab rebounds and get second chance points.
Keys to the Game
Defense - I know, I always list defense as the first key to every game, but defense truly is always the key to winning. The Celtics have a defensive rating of 102.1, which is 4th in the league. The Kings have a defensive rating of 110.2, which is 20th in the league. The Celtics must make defense a priority. The Celtics also must particularly guard the perimeter as the Kings shoot 37% from beyond the arc as a team.
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 are averaging 46.7 rebounds per game to 41.8 rebounds per game for the Kings. The Celtics have to put out extra effort to beat the Kings to the boards.
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.
Play 48 Minutes - It seemed that the Celtics got off to slow starts in every game on the road trip. The Celtics have to come out strong right from the opening tip and not dig a hole in the first quarter. They also have to play hard right up until the final buzzer, even if they have a lead. They can’t let up because every team has been giving their best effort against the Celtics and so the Celtics must give their best effort for 48 minutes if they want to get a win.
Next Man Up - With Gordon Hayward out and Kemba Walker likely out, every player is going to need to step up to help fill in the void left by the injuries to the Celtics two best players. They also have to avoid the tendency to try to do it by themselves and launch into hero ball. They have to play as a team and trust each other and step up together.
Home Game - The Celtics are back home after a tough West coast trip. They should get a boost from the home crowd and come out focused on protecting their home court. The Kings have struggled a bit on the road with a 3-5 record away from home. The Celtics need to take advantage of that. They call it home court advantage for a reason.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Every crew will call the game differently. Some will call every little thing and the game will have no flow. Others will let a lot go and let them play. Some crews favor the home team while others not so much. The Celtics need to adjust to how the game is called. In two games on the trip (Clippers and Kings), the officials had a very big hand in the outcome. I think that now they owe us one. Hopefully they call the game evenly and fairly and let both teams play.