Short Handed Celtics Host Streaking Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats (15-21) at Boston Celtics (29-9)
Friday, January 14
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #39 Home Game #21
Radio:  WEEI,  WPNZ
TD Garden  
Referees:   Derrick Stafford, Kane Fitzgerald,  David Jones  
This is the second meeting between these two teams.  The Celtics dominated the first game, winning 93-62.  But the Celtics shouldn't expect it to be as easy this time around.  The Bobcats were struggling under Larry Brown but since Paul Silas took over, they have been off and running. 

The Bobcats had lost 6 of 8 games before the coaching change and since that time they have won 6 of their last 8.   They have a 4 game win streak and are coming off a 96-91 win over the Bulls.  They are averaging 101 points per game during that streak and have cut their turnovers almost 4 per game over that time as well. 

The Celtics bounced back with some inspired play against the Kings after  lackluster performances in their previous 2 games.  The Celtics can't afford to take the Bobcats for granted or they will get burned.  Under Silas they are playing very well and they will use their athleticism to their advantage. 

The Celtics are close to getting healthier but they may be very thin up front for this game.  As of Thursday's practice, Doc was still ruling KG out for this one, even though he participated in half of practice.  Jermaine O'Neal had another MRI and is considering surgery.  And to make things worse,  Semih Erden, who played very well against the Kings, sat out practice with a groin injury and is questionable for this one.   If KG and Semih can't go,  it will be up to Shaq, Big Baby and Luke Harangody to man the middle.  We will see a lot of small ball out of necessity. 

Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games.  The Celtics are 17-3 at home while the Bobcats are 4-12 on the road.   The Bobcats are looking for their 5th straight win while the Celtics are hoping to win their second straight game.  With all their injuries, the Celtics will need to play hard and stay focused to have a chance at winning this one. 

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

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley
Nate Robinson


Kendrick Perkins (knee) out (but coming back soon!!!)
Delonte West (wrist) out
Kevin Garnett (calf) doubtful
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Semih Erden (groin) questionable

Probable Starters
PG......SG.....SF.....PF ..... C
DJ Augustin........Stephen Jackson....Gerald Wallace........Boris Diaw........Kwame Brown

Bobcats Bench

Derrick Brown
Shawn Livingston
Dominic McGuire
Eduardo Najera
Matt Carroll
Tyrus Thomas
Gerald Henderson

DeSagana Diop (Achilles) out
Nazr Mohammed (knee)  out

Key Matchups
Ray Allen vs Stephen Jackson
Jackson is the Bobcats' leading scorer and much of the offense goes through him.  Ray has been on a hot streak and hopefully will stay that way in this one.  He needs to make Jackson work on defense and Ray needs to limit Jackson's effectiveness on the offensive end.  Ray also needs to take care of the ball as Jackson also leads the Bobcats in steals. 

Rajon Rondo vs DJ Augustin
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.  When Rondo is aggressive in running the team and playing his game, the Celtics as a team are more aggressive and tend to play well.  When Rondo is passive, the Celtics tend to be also and that is when they get beaten by teams that they should beat.  Augustin has benefited from the coaching change more than any other Bobcat.  He is averaging 19.9 points and 7.1 assists in the 8 games since Silas took over for Larry Brown. 

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Gerald Wallace
Wallace is very athletic and leads the Bobcats in rebounding.  He has given the Celtics problems in the past and hopefully Pierce will continue the focused and efficient play that we saw from him against the Kings.

Keys to the Game
Focus and Energy - This will be more important in this game with all the injuries to the front court.   The Celtics have got to stay focused and play with energy the entire game as the margin of error will be very slim in this game.

Defense -   The Celtics need to make defense their priority.  They can't allow the absence of KG to be an excuse to slack off on the defensive end. 

Rebound -    Good things happen when the Celtics crash the boards.   When they show energy in rebounding, that injury spreads to other areas of the game.  They prevent second chance points and fast break baskets by grabbing the rebounds as well. 

Be Aggressive - When the Celtics are the more aggressive team they usually win.  They need to be aggressive in going to the basket, in grabbing rebounds, and in hustling after loose balls. 

Referee Report 

Derrick Stafford 
This is the Celtics first game this season with Stafford officiating.   The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Stafford.   His home W/L this season is 14-17. Stafford worked for the US Postal Service for 10 years, which may explain his quick trigger when it comes to technical fouls.

Kane Fitzgerald
The Celtics are 4-0 this season with Fitzgerald officiating.  He is a former D-League official and is in his second season calling NBA games.  One of those wins was no thanks to Fitzgerald who gave KG  a very quick pair of technicals (from about 30 feet away) and tossed him in the 2nd quarter of the Celtics 104-101 win over the Knicks (in which Amare scored 30). His quickness with the T dates back to his days in the D-league where he was close to the top in calling T's there as well .   His home W/L record is 14-14.  

David Jones
The Celtics are 1-1 this season with Jones as an official.   He has been an NBA referee for over 18 years. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Jones officiating.   His home W/L record is 19-11.  

The Celtics have been battling injuries for most of the season so far.  They have been successful for the most part in filling in the blanks for the injured players.   But at some point, the injuries may just be too much to overcome.   There is light at the end of the tunnel, though with Perk about 3 weeks away and Delonte likely back after the All Star Break and KG expected back on Monday.