Celtics Hoping to End Road Trip with Win in Utah

Boston Celtics (42-15) at Utah Jazz (32-28)
Monday, February 28
9:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #58 Road Game #28
Regular Season Games Remaining:  24
Radio:  WEEI,  KFNZ
Energy Solutions Arena
Referees:  Joe Crawford, Eric Dalen, Leon Wood
This is a meeting of two teams trying to find chemistry with new players after having a key player on the team traded.  The Celtics are trying to come to terms with missing Perk while the Jazz are trying to find their way after trading their All Star point guard of the past 7 seasons, Deron Williams.  Devin Harris is running the point for them but obviously won't know all of their offensive sets yet.  The same is true of the Celtics with 2 new players getting a crash course in the Celtics offense and defense. 

These two teams have split the series the last 2 years.  The Celtics have already beaten the Jazz 110 - 86 in Boston and would love to sweep the series this season and finish this road trip with a 3-1 record.  The Jazz are 36-46 all time vs the Celtics and 25-16 all time at home.

  Both teams last played on Saturday with the Celtics winning against the Clippers and the Jazz losing to Detroit on the road.  The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Jazz are 3-7 in their last 10.  The Celtics are 17-10 on the road.

The Celtics will get to see their old friend Al Jefferson again but it will be bittersweet as there will be a hole in the Celtics for Al as well since he and Perk always stayed close over the years. 

Both teams are working in new players who will struggle with missed assignments and chemistry.   Both teams are missing a center to injury.  It will come down to focus and the ability to work in their new players on both teams.    Hopefully the Celtics will come out focused in this game and finish the road trip out with a win. 

Probable Starters
PG:   Rajon Rondo 10.7 PPG  12.1 APG 2.3 SPG
SG:   Ray Allen 17.3 PPG  2.8 APG  .452 3P%
SF:    Paul Pierce 18.9 PPG  5.0 RPG  3.2 APG
PF:    Kevin Garnett 15.1 PPG  9.2 RPG  0.8 BPG 
C:      Nenad Krstic  7.6 PPG  4.4 RPG  0.4 BPG

Boston Bench Mob
Glen Davis
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley
Jeff Green
Chris Johnson

Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles)  out
Delonte West (ankle)  out

Probable Starters
PG   Devin Harris  15.0 PPG  7.6 APG   1.0 SPG 
SG:  Raja Bell    8.6 PPG  1.7 APG  .355 3P% 
SF  Andrei Kirilenko   11.9 PPG  5.5 RPG 3.0 APG
PF  Paul Millsap  17.3 PPG   8.0 RPG  0.9 BPG
C   Al Jefferson   17.8  PPG  9.1 RPG  1.9 BPG 

Jazz Reserves
CJ Miles
Francisco Elson
Ronnie Price
Earl Watson
Kyrylo Fesenko
Gordon Hayward
Jeremy Evans 
Derrick Favors

Mehmet Okur  (back)  out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs  Devin Harris 
I'm not sure if Rondo will be disappointed or relieved that he won't have to play against Deron Williams in this one. Williams was always one of Rondo's tougher matchups.  Harris is still a good point guard in his own right, but Rondo should be able to get the best of this matchup. 

Paul Pierce vs Andrei Kirilenko
In 7 of the last 11 meetings between these 2 teams, Pierce was the Celtics high scorer.  He always plays very well against Kirilenko.  In fact, in one game he played so well, he left Kirilenko in tears at the end of the game.  With Delonte out Rondo's only back up is Avery Bradley.  We may see Pierce playing some point forward and it will be up to Jeff Green to match up with Kirilenko.  Hopefully he is up to the task.  

Honorable Mention
Nenad Krstic vs Al Jefferson
Krstic is going to need to defend the post in order to prevent Al from having a big game since he is a very good post scorer.  Krstic has a height advantage and Al has the strength advantage.  Hopefully Krstic's ability to hit the jumper will help him in this matchup. 

Keys to the Game
Defense -  The Celtics will need to make defense a priority in every game but especially against the Jazz as they have some very good scorers and the Celtics will have trouble winning a shoot out.    They have to get stops if they want to win the game. 

Rebound Krstic gave the Celtics a boost on the offensive boards in his first game.  It would be great if he would continue that effort on the boards and extend his efforts to the defensive end.   They need to crash the boards to limit second chance points and fast breaks for the Jazz. 

Bench The Jazz has a very strong bench and the Celtics bench mob will need to play well in this game in order for the game not to get out of control while the starters rest.   The bench will be the difference between a close game and a blowout and possibly between a win and a loss.  The Celtics bench is finally starting to come together with the return of Delonte and with the addition of Jeff Green.  They have to play as a unit and play well. 

Be Aggressive  Sometimes the Celtics get passive and when they do, they always struggle and always seem to pick up a lot more fouls.  The Celtics must be aggressive and go strong to the basket, go after loose balls and crash the boards.  We saw that in the second half against the Clippers and hopefully that will carry over into this game as well. 

Play 48 Minutes
The Celtics can't have a sloppy first half and expect to always pull away in the second half.  They need to come out strong and play hard until the final buzzer.  The Jazz always play  hard and the Celtics need to match that effort. 

Official Report
Joe Crawford
rawford has been officiating games since 1977 and has officiated more play-off games and NBA Finals Games than any other active referee. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many other refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call but that was too late to reverse the outcome of the game. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. And in the Suns 2010 first round against the Blazers, Crawford made what was possibly the worst foul call of all time when he called Marcus Camby for a foul and put Steve Nash on the line. Camby was nowhere near Nash, but that didn't stop Craawford from calling the foul on him. (If you want to see it for yourself, just go to YouTube and search for worst call ever).   Perhaps the most notable example of Crawford's poor officiating was last season's Game 7 between the Celtics and Lakers. With Boston leading going into the 4th quarter, Crawford and his cronies completely changed their style of officiating. For 3 quarters, the game was called loosely and they were letting the players play. Suddenly in the 4th quarter, they began to call it tight and all the questionable calls went to the Lakers with the result being a 21-6 4th quarter free throw disparity. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Crawford as a referee. The Jazz are 3-7 with Crawford in their last 10 games. Crawford's home W/L record this season is 24-21.

Eric Dalen
Dalen has been a referee in the NBA since 2008. He spent 4 years officiating college games and 5 years in the D-League before being called up to the NBA. I couldn't find much on the guy other than an article where Andrew Bynum was complaining about Dalen calling all 6 fouls on him in a game in 2008. This is his first game this season with the Celtics. He has only officiated 6 games for the Celtics since 2008 and the Celtics are 4-2 in those games. The Jazz are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Dalen officiating. His home W/L record this season is 23-17.

Leon Wood
Osie Leon Wood, III has officiated 600+ regular season games and 3 play-off games.
Prior to becoming an NBA referee, Wood was a shooting guard in the NBA. He was chosen 10th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1st round of the 1984 draft. During his career, he played for the 76ers, Bullets, Nets, Spurs, Hawks and Kings. He played in 274 games in his career and won a gold medal as a member of the 1984 US Olympic basketball team. When not officiating, Wood helps train younger officials. You would think that being a former player, Wood would try to be fair but he has been a mediocre ref at best. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games with Wood officiating. The Jazz are 6-4 over their last 10 games called by Wood. His home W/L record this season is 25-25.

Chemistry and Road Wear
Both teams will be working to develop chemistry with new players. The team that is more successful in this area will more than likely win.  The last game on the road is always tough and the Celtics need to resist the urge to look ahead to being home and take care of business in this game.