Celtics Finish Western Swing with the Kings

Boston Celtics (36-11) at Sacramento Kings (12-33)
Tuesday, February 1
10:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #48, Road Game #23
TV:  CSNNE, CSNCA, TheScore,  NBA-LP 754/755
Radio:  WEEI, KHTK
Arco Arena 
Referees:  Bennett Salvatore,  Eli Roe,  Gary Zielinski 

This is the second meeting between these two teams this season.  The Celtics won the game in Boston 119-95 but the Kings didn't have their talented second year guard, Tyreke Evans in that one.   The Kings have been playing very well in recent games, winning 3 of their last 4 games.  All 3 wins were against playoff teams. 

They play teams tough.  In 28 of their games they have had a lead or were tied in the 4th quarter.  It appears that they are learning how to finish in these recent wins.   It would be a huge mistake to take this team for granted based on their record.  The Lakers, Hornets and Blazers found that out the hard way. 

The Celtics are 2-1 right now on this road trip.  They are coming off a big win over the Lakers and it would be easy to have a let down against a team with a 12-33 record.  But, since a win against the Lakers counts the same in the standings as a win against the Kings, losing this game undoes the good play on Sunday.  The Celtics are just 2.5 games ahead of the Heat in the standings after their loss to the Suns.  They have to take every game seriously if they want to have HCA throughout the playoffs. 

This is a very winnable game if they come out with the focus and intensity that they did against the Lakers. But if they play like they did vs the Suns, they will end the road trip 2-2 instead of 3-1 and that would be a shame after the big win over the Lakers.   Great teams bring it every night.  This team is great and it's time they prove it! 

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo/  Ray Allen/  Paul Pierce/  Kevin Garnett/  Shaquille O'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Kendrick Perkins
Marquis Daniels
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Semih Erden
Nate Robinson
Glen Davis


Delonte West (wrist) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out

Avery Bradley

Probable Starters
Beno Udrih/ Tyreke Evans /Omri Casspi/Jason Thompson/ DeMarcus Cousins

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

Francisco Garcia (calf) out
Jason Thompson (ankle)  questionable 

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Beno Udrih
As we have seen in so many games, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.  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.  Previous to the Lakers game,   Rondo has had sub-par games for him vs the Blazers and the Suns and the Celtics need the Rondo who showed up in the Lakers game.    If he plays like he is capable of playing, he should be able to have his way with Udrih.

Ray Allen vs Tyreke Evans
The last time the Celtics met, Evans was out.  Ray has been playing very well and is fast closing in on the 3 point record.   Evans will want to show that he can make a difference for the team and will be aggressive and Ray must match his energy. 

Honorable Mention
Shaquille O'Neal vs DeMarcus Cousins
After some off court problems and clashes with the coach, Cousins is finding his spot on the team.  He has scored in double figures in 4 of his last 5 games, helping to lead his team to victory in those 4 games.  Shaq will need to hold his ground against this young and athletic center without getting into quick foul trouble. 

Key off the Bench
Kendrick Perkins vs Samuel Dalembert
Perk and Dalembert have had many battles when Sam was Philly's starting center and now they will battle each other off the bench.  Dalembert's scoring off the bench helped to lead the Kings over 2 playoff teams:  LA (18 points) and New Orleans (16 points) in their last 2 games.  Perk's defense on him will be key.

Keys to the Game
Defense -  Defense is a key to every game and it will be the key to winning the championship.  The Celtics beat the Lakers with their defense but lost to the Suns because they failed to play team defense.  The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority.  Defense wins game. 

Play Team Ball - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man. When the Celtics concentrate on playing as a team, they are tough to beat.  They did a great job of moving the ball against the Lakers and because of that their offense ran like a well oiled machine.  Hero ball never wins games (ask Kobe). 

Crash the boards - The Celtics showed that they are capable of beating even big teams on the boards when they out-rebounded the Lakers.  They had the desire and effort needed in that game and need to bring that same effort and desire to this game and beat the Kings on the boards. 

Effort and Focus
- Whatever the reason, the Celtics have shown a lack of focus and effort against teams with losing records.   The Celtics beat the Kings once already and they have a dismal record at 12-33 but the Celtics shouldn't take them for granted.  They need to be focused on this game and bring the same effort that they did against the Lakers.  The Heat already made up one game on them when they lost to the Suns and could make up another one here if they don't come to play in this one. 

Official Report 
Bennett Salvatore
The Celtics go from bad to worst as far as officials go.  Bennett Salvatore has refereed over 1,400 regular season games, 175+ playoff games and 20 NBA Finals games. Bennett has the distinction of being the worst referee alive today. The man is just incompetent. Salvatore seems to miss more calls and make more bad calls per game than all the other refs and tonight he is our crew chief. Salvatore made one of the most controversial calls in NBA finals history in game 5 of the 2006 finals. The call basically gave the Heat their championship. Here is Bill Simmons' take on the call.
Salvatore called the foul on Wade's final drive in overtime (remember, the call where ABC couldn't find a replay to show that anyone touched him?) even though he was standing at midcourt a full 35-40 feet from the play, and even though two other refs were closer to the play. Not only was that NOT his call, he butchered it.
Another of Salvatore's controversial calls was in the 2008 conference finals when he waved off a contested 3-pointer that Pierce had hoisted over Richard Hamilton, inducing him to leave his feet with a ball fake and land on Pierce's back. Pierce, however, was charged with an offensive foul for creating the contact with Hamilton.   The Celtics are 1-0 with Salvatore this season.     The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Salvatore as an official.  His home W/L record this season is 14-7. 

Seeing Salvatore's name has to make every Celtics fan cringe a little as tonight's game just got a lot harder to win. Just look at this video of Salvatore's ability to control a game and screw the Celtics.

Eli Roe
Roe is in his 3rd season in the NBA and has officiated over 50+ NBA games. He has also officiated the WNBA Finals (2004 and 2005) and the NBDL Finals. e has also refereed 4 NCAA Division I Post Season Conference Tournament. Roe tends to be inconsistent in his calls and like Salvatore can make the calls favor a team on any given night. The Celtics are 1-0 with Roe this season, as he was on the crew with Salvatore that called the narrow win over the Wolves at the Garden earlier this season. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Roe as an official. His home W/L record this season is 21-4.

Gary Zielinski
Zielinski as been in the league for 6 years but hasn’t refereed a playoff game yet. He has worked 6 years in the CBA and 4 seasons in the WNBA, where he called the finals from 1998 to 2001. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Zielinski. His home W/L record this season is 23-13.

Let Down and Focus
After a big win like the one over the Lakers, it would be easy for the Celtics to let down and come into this game unfocused.  Every game counts and in the standings, a win over the Kings counts the same as a win over the Lakers so they have to come into this game focused and not let down their guard.  The way the Kings have been playing, taking them for granted would be a big mistake. The Celtics are talking about knowing they need to focus and come out strong in this game.  We shall see if they mean it or are just talking.