The Celtics return home from their 2-1 road trip to host the Golden State Warriors, who are playing in the second game of a 5 game road trip. They opened their trip with a loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday. This is the second and final game between these two teams this season. The Celtics beat the Warriors 105-100 in Oakland on November 15.
The Celtics are 4th in the East, half a game behind Miami, after their win over the Heat on Tuesday. They are 18-5 at home and 6-4 on the road. The Celtics are 10-6 vs the West. The Warriors are last in the Western Conference. They are 3-21 on the road and 1-9 in their last 10 games, beating only Orlando. They have lost their last 9 games on the road. They are 3-11 against the East.
The Celtics remain short handed up front with Enes Kanter declared out for this game with a hip injury. Robert Williams remains out also with a hip injury. Jayson Tatum will play in this game but on a minutes restriction. I’m guessing that he will slip back into the starting lineup with Marcus Smart returning to the bench. Having Jayson come back for this game, even on a minutes restriction, makes sense so that he won’t be quite as rusty for Saturday’s big game against the Sixers.
Javonte Green is not on the injury list and should play. Tacko Fall was with the team on the trip for insurance and may or may not remain with them now that they are back at home. The same would go for Romeo Langford who was recalled to the parent club while they were on the road trip and with Green healthy again, he may return to the Red Claws. I haven’t seen anything as yet concerning their status.
The Warriors have dealt with injuries all season as well. Stephen Curry (hand) and Klay Thompson (ACL) may both very well miss the whole season. Kevon Looney is out with Abdominal soreness. They traded Willie Cauley-Stein, who was their starting center, to Dallas for a second round pick and their former 2-way player, Marquese Chriss is now starting for them.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
Robert Williams (hip) out
Enes Kanter (hip) out
Jayson Tatum (groin) available
Two Way Players
Probable Warriors Starters
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Damion Lee
SF: Glen Robinson III
PF: Draymond Green
C: Marquese Chriss
Jacob Evans III
Stephen Curry (hand) out
Kevon Looney (abdomen) out
Klay Thompson (knee) out
Two Way Players
Kemba Walker vs D’Angelo Russell
Russell has been the lone bright spot for the Warriors in the midst of this injury riddled season so far. He is averaging 24.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. He is shooting 43.3% from the field and 38.1% from beyond the arc. He is averaging 3.7 made 3 pointers per game, which is 3rd only to Harden and Lillard. We will likely see Jaylen Brown guarding Russell and Kemba on Damion Lee.
Gordon Hayward vs Glenn Robinson III
Robinson is averaging 12.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He is shooting 47.3% from the field and 40.0% from beyond the arc. Hayward will need to keep him off the 3 point line where he can be very dangerous if left open.
Jayson Tatum vs Draymond Green
Green is averaging 8.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He is not shooting great with 38.4% from the field and 26.6% from beyond the arc. However, he has had double figure assists in his past two games and is a very good passer. He can also be a bully in the paint and so the Celtics need to watch out for him to avoid more injuries.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics need to make defense a priority. Defense wins games. The Celtics are 4th with a defensive rating of 105.4. The Warriors have the 23rd best defensive rating in the league at 112.0. The Celtics have been getting back to playing tough defense again and they have to continue to make defense a priority if they want to keep winning.
Rebound - The Celtics are averaging 45.5 rebounds per game while the Warriors are averaging 43.9 rebounds per game. The Celtics are still missing two of their big men and their best rebounder and so everyone must make an extra effort to crash the boards and pull down rebounds. If they put out extra effort on the boards, that usually carries through to the rest of their game.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team from start to finish. They need to be aggressive in going to the hoop, in crashing the boards, in fighting for loose balls and in running the court. They also have to be more aggressive on defense. They have to be the team that wants it more. If the Celtics want to get a win in this game, they have to be the team that plays harder. In spite of the Warriors record, the Celtics can’t expect to coast and get a win.
Move the Ball - The Celtics have to keep the ball moving and not lapse into hero ball and over-dribbling on each possession. When they Celtics move the ball, they are tough to beat. When the ball movement is stagnant, things don’t usually go well. Also, the Celtics have to be careful with their passes as the Warriors are 9th in the league with 17.3 points off turnovers and if the Celtics get sloppy they will make them pay.
Start Fast and Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics got off to a good start against the Heat and it translated in to a win. They can’t come out slow because they expect an easy win be cause if they dig a hole, it’s always hard to climb back out of it. They have to come out strong and get off to a good start and then continue to play hard right up until the final buzzer.
Home Game - The Celtics have played well at home and they need to continue their strong play at the Garden in this game. The Garden crowd can be loud and make it hard for opposing teams to play well in the building. The Celtics need the Garden crowd to be loud and give them a boost.
Trap Game - This has trap game written all over it. First game after a road trip. The worst team in the league that is looking to avenge a loss to the Celtics on their home court. The Celtics are coming off a big win over the Heat. They are facing a team that is more short handed than they are. And, they may be looking ahead to a very big game on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers. They have to ignore all the distractions and focus on playing Celtics basketball against a Warriors team they beat by just 5 points in the last game, and that is with D’Angelo Russell leaving the game with an injury in the 3rd quarter.
Officiating - As always, the officiating is an x-factor. Every crew calls the game differently. Some may call it tight, some may let them play. Some crews favor the home team and some favor the road team. Some crews are good and some are bad. The Celtics have to focus on playing the game and not allow bad calls to take away from that focus.