Celtics Begin Second Half on the Road vs the Warriors

Boston Celtics (40-14) at Golden State Warriors (26-29)
Tuesday, February 22
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #55, Road Game #25
TV:  CSN-NE,  CSN-BA, NBA LP 764/765
Radio:  WEEI, KNBR
Oracle Arena
Referees:  Ed Malloy, Michael Smith,  Haywoode Workman

After taking some time off for NBA All-Star Weekend, the unofficial second half of the season starts on Tuesday for the Boston Celtics as they travel to Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors.  Many of the Celtics were able to rest up and heal some nagging injuries but 4 of the Celtics starters were in LA partying and playing in the All Star festivities, although they played limited minutes in the All Star Game.  They should be ready to get a win in this game as they didn't have much success over the weekend with the East losing to the West and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen coming up short in the 3 point shootout.

On the other side, the Warriors sent Stephen Curry and Dorrell Wright to the All Star festivities.    Wright narrowly missed reaching the finals in the 3 point shootout and Curry won the Skills Challenge.  Both teams entered the break on a win streak with the Warriors winning their last 3 games and the Celtics their last 2 games and both will be looking to pick up where they left off.

The Celtics have been very successful over the past 3 seasons but  the Warriors have had their number at the Oracle Arena.  They have won each of their last six home games against the Celtics and if the Warriors play like they did in the games leading up to All-Star Weekend, they are certainly capable of extending that streak.  The Celtics can't come in and expect to win just by showing up.

The Celtics have been staggered by injuries but are starting to get some of their wounded back for the stretch run.    Delonte was hoping to return just before the break but suffered a setback in practice.   West's ability to come back from his injury and play will be huge for the Celtics postseason hopes.  The Celtics have also been very thin up front with both O'Neals and Semih Erden out with injuries.  Both Delonte and Semih practiced yesterday and are expected to make a return to game action in this game.   

The Warriors can be a dangerous team.  They rank second in the league in steals, fast break points and forcing turnovers.  If the Celtics get sloppy, the Warriors will certainly make them pay.  It will be important to get this road trip off to a good start and so the Celtics need to come into this game focused and ready to play 48 minutes of Celtics basketball. 

Probable Starters

PG Rajon Rondo  10.9 PPG,  12.2 APG,  2.3 SPG

SG Ray Allen   17.3 PPG, 2.9 APG, .457 3P%

 SF  Paul Pierce  18.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG

PF Kevin Garnett   14.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG,  0.8 BPG

C Kendrick Perkins 7.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG,  0.8 BPG

Nate Robinson
Big Baby Davis
Von Wafer
Luke Harangody
Avery Bradley  


Marquis Daniels (Spine) out
Jermaine O'Neal  (knee)  out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Delonte West (wrist) probable
Semih Erden (abductor) probable

Probable Starters

PG  Stephen Curry 18.4 PPG, 6.0 APG, 1.74 SPG

SG  Monta Ellis 25.3 PPG, 5.5 APG,  .364 3P%  

SF  Dorrell Wright  16.5 PPG,  5.7 RPG,  3.2 APG

 PF David Lee 15.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG,  0.4 BPG  

C  Andris Biedrins  5.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG,   0.9 BPG

Vladimir Radmanovic
Ekpe Udoh
Jeremy Lin
Reggie Williams
Brandon Wright
Charlie Bell

Lou Admunson (back) doubtful
Acie Law (wrist)  doubtful
Dan Gadzuric (back) questionable

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is a good young point guard and has been impressive so far in his career.   He proved by winning the Skills Challenge that he is quick and talented.  He sometimes will have defensive lapses and when he does, Rondo needs to be ready to take advantage.  

Ray Allen vs Monta Ellis
Ellis is averaging over 25 points per game and could be a tough matchup for Ray on defense.  Ellis is quick and can get his shot off if given a little space.  Ray needs to wear him out playing defense and chasing him through screens and Ray should be able to get his shot off as well.  Hopefully Ray is ready to prove that the loss in the 3 point contest was a fluke and that he is still the best shooter in the NBA.  

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs David Lee
Lee is a very good power forward and he plays very hard every game.  He does have lapses on defense however and KG could have a big game if he takes advantage of them.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Warriors can put points on the board quickly and in bunches.  It will be important for the Celtics to bring their defensive intensity into this game, especially to shut down the Warriors' fast breaks since they average 18.5 fast break points per game.

Rebound - The Celtics need to crash the boards to keep the Warriors from igniting their fast  breaks.   The Celtics also need to rebound to give themselves second chance points and limit the second chance points for the Warriors.  

Take Care of the Ball - The Warriors can be very disruptive by getting into the passing lanes.  They average 9 steals a game and are second in the league at forcing turnovers with 16.3 per game.   The Celtics need to stay focused and not give the Warriors any easy opportunities to steal the ball or to get out on the break.

Focus and Effort -  The Celtics need to come out focused and take control of the game from the beginning.  They have had a rest for the most part over the break and they need to come out and be aggressive and play focused for 48 minutes and begin this trip with a win. 

Official Report
Ed Malloy
Ed Malloy has officiated over 230+ regular season games. Controversy between Malloy and Doc Rivers goes way back. In 2003, when Doc was with Orlando, Malloy called a technical foul on Andrew DeClercq for staring. Doc called it one of the worst calls he ever saw (boy has he seen a lot worse since then!)and he said that he felt that Malloy had been intimidated all night. Fast forward to the Celtics game in Utah this season when Malloy, no longer intimidated, called 2 quick technicals on Doc and ejected him. Here is Doc's version of those calls.
“I just told Ed [Malloy], please keep officiating the game,” said Rivers. “That’s all I said. I thought the play before [the technical] was a clear travel in front of him. So I just said, ‘Hey Ed, it’d be nice if you’d keep officiating throughout.’ He gave me a tech. Then I said, ‘That’s the best call you’ve made all night.’ Usually, it’s nice to earn them, but [Monday's technicals were] another bad call.”
Malloy was also on the crew that officiated game 1 of the Miami series in last year's playoffs where 5 technicals were called and Kevin Garnett was ejected. The Celtics are 4-0 this season and 9-1 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. His home W/L record is 29-21.

Michael Smith
Michael Smith has officiated over 740+ regular season games and 10 playoff games. He worked 5 years in the CBA, 8 years at the college level and 10 years at the high school level before making it to the NBA. The Celtics are 1-1 with Smith this season and 6-4 in their last 10 with Smith officiating. His last game with the Celtics was Magic at Celtics on January 17. The Celtics won but the Magic took 13 more free throws than the Celtics and the officiating was terrible for both teams. His home W/L is 31-10.

Haywoode Workman
Workman is a former NBA player who crossed over to the dark side to become an NBA referee. He worked in the Pro Am League in California, the CBA and the NBDL, along with 2 seasons in the NBA pre-season before being hired in the 2008-09 season to work the regular season in the NBA. He was a point guard in the NBA and played 8 seasons for 5 different teams. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 6-4 over the last 10 games with Workman calling the games. His home W/L record is 17-22 this season.

Returns from Injuries
The Celtics may get Delonte West and Semih Erden back in this game.  That would be a huge boost to the Celtics bench and begin the process of developing a bench rotation down the stretch.  Delonte's return especially will be crucial as he gives the second unit a playmaker who can create his own shot, drive to the hoop, or find the open man.  Semih or Shaq would also give the Celtics much needed depth at the center position. Any of these returns would give the team a boost and would also give the starters a bit more rest while not having to worry so much about losing ground with the bench in the game.