Celtics Look to Stop Skid as they Host Kings

Sacramento Kings (8-27) at Boston Celtics (28-9)
Wednesday, January 12
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #38, Home Game #20
TV:  CSN-NE, , CSN-CA, NBA LP 755/756
Radio:  WEEI,  KHTK
TD Garden
Referees:  Bob Delaney,  Curtis Blair,  Derrick Collins   
The Celtics welcome the Kings to the Garden in the 2nd of a 6 game home stand.   The first game didn't go very well as the Celtics put out very little effort in a loss to the short handed Rockets. 

It has been exactly 2 weeks since Kevin Garnett went out with a calf injury.  The Celtics gave a 2 week time table for his return but reports are that he didn't practice yesterday and is doubtful for this one.   The Celtics should be able to handle the Kings easily without KG and it would make sense to rest him one more game.  But then again, they should have been able to handle the Rockets without KG too.   If  the Celtics do decide to rest him one more game and we don't see The Big Ticket in this one, cue the panic in Celtics Nation about his injury being more serious than the Celtics are letting on. 

Last season, the Celtics won the series 2‐0.  Paul Pierce led the Celtics with an average of 19.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game…Kevin Garnett averaged 13.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in the two contests.  Carl Landry scored 30 points in his only game for the Kings against Boston last season.   Beno Udrih averaged 12.5 points and 7.0 assists to go along with 2.5 steals per game.

The Celtics still have a very good home record  of 16-3 in spite of their last loss there while the Kings have been very bad on the road with a 2-12 record away from home.   The Celtics have dropped to 5-5 in their last 10 games, prompting a lot of comparisons to the play we saw from them after Christmas last season.   The Kings are just 3-7 in their last 10 games.  The Kings are playing in the second of back to back games, having lost a 138-133 game that featured very little defense to the Wizards on Tuesday night. 

Whether the last two losses were the result of taking the opponent for granted and playing down to the competition, or they are missing KG and the injuries are catching up to them, or they are just tired from a tough stretch of games,  the Celtics must put out a better effort, especially on the defensive end,  or they risk losing another game that they should win.   

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo/  Ray Allen/  Paul Pierce/ Glen Davis/  Shaquille O'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley
Jermaine O'Neal
Semih Erden
Nate Robinson


Kendrick Perkins (knee) out (but coming back soon!!!)
Delonte West (wrist) out
Kevin Garnett (calf) doubtful
Ray Allen (shoulder, side)  probable

Probable Starters
Beno Udrih/ Jermaine Taylor /Francisco Garcia/Jason Thompson/ DeMarcus Cousins

Samuel Dalembert
Carl Landry
Pooh Jeter
Donte Greene
Darnell Jackson
Luther Head
Hassan Whiteside

Tyreke Evans (ankle)  day to day

Key Matchups

Rajon Rondo vs Beno Udrih
Rondo's play is very important to the Celtics and he will need to be aggressive  in this game on both ends of the court.  In the last two games, Rondo has had sub-par games for him and the Celtics need him to get back on track and set the pace for the Celtics as he has been doing most of the season.    If he plays like he is capable of playing, he should be able to have his way with Udrih.

Shaquille O'Neal vs DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins has had some problems with his attitude and behavior, but there is no denying his talent.   He is leading the team in rebounds at 7.7 per game and is scoring 12.9 points per game.

Honorable Mention

Paul Pierce vs Francisco Garcia
Pierce is the Captain and needs to help the Celtics right the shop.  He has to pick up his game and lead the team by example.  The Celtics need more effort and energy from Pierce in order to get back on track to where they should be.  

Keys to the Game
Defense -  Defense is a key to every game and it will be the key to winning the championship.  The Celtics have played poor defense in their last two games and that resulted in two losses.  The defense was so poor against the Rockets that Doc said it was the worst defensive effort in three or four years. Considering some of the stinkers the Celtics put up after Christmas last season, that is saying a lot.   The Celtics must get back to making Defense their number one priority.   Getting KG and then Perk back will help immensely, but with or without them, the Celtics are capable of playing much better defense than they have been playing.

Play Team Ball - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man.  When players try to do too much on their own, the Celtics struggle but when they concentrate on playing as a team, they are tough to beat.  Over the past two games,  the Celtics haven't been playing as a team and that shows in the low number of assists as a team.  They must get back to UBUNTU and playing as a team on both ends of the court.

Crash the boards - The Celtics have been getting out rebounded by their opponents, giving the opposing team second chance points and fast break points because of it.   Every player must make a concerted effort to aggressively go after rebounds.

Effort and Focus
- Whatever the reason, the Celtics have shown a lack of focus and effort in the games.   The Celtics must bring more energy and they have to focus on the task at hand from the opening tip until the final buzzer.  

Be Aggressive - Two games in a row, the Celtics have played passively and settled for jumpers while the other team was aggressive and spent the night on the line.  The Celtics must get back to being the more aggressive team and not standing back while the other team blows past them.  

Overlooking the Kings and Focus
The Kings are just 8-26 on the season and 2-11 on the road.  They are playing in the second of back to back games.   It would be easy to overlook them  and that would be a mistake.  The Celtics must get back to focusing on their game and not playing according to what they perceive to be the competition.  It has burned them several times this season already and it will burn them every time.