Celtics Take on Bobcats Hoping to Avoid Trap

Boston Celtics (38-12) at Charlotte Bobcats (21-29)
Monday, February 7
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #51, Road Game #24
Time Warner Cable Arena 
Referees:  Ron Garretson, Marke Ayotte, Kane Fitzgerald 
This should be an easy game against a sub .500 team for the Celtics sandwiched between games against contenders.    It should be an easy game, but for some reason, sometimes the Celtics forget to show up in games that should be easy.  It would be easy to take the Bobcats for granted after facing the Mavs and Magic in their last 2 games and looking forward to another game vs the Lakers on Thursday and then another big game vs the Heat after that. 

The Celtics are 2-0 vs the Bobcats so far this season, winning big (92-62 in Charlotte and not so big (99-94) in Boston so far.  They have one more meeting after this one.  The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Bobcats have been off since their loss to the Mavs on Saturday.  The Celtics are 6-6 so far this season in the second of back to back games. 

The Celtics have never lost a season series to the Bobcats.  They swept the series 3-0 last season.   The Celtics are 18-5 overall all time against the Bobcats and 8-3 on the road  all time vs the Bobcats.

The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 15-8 on the road.  The Bobcats are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 12-12 at home.  The Bobcats have lost their last two while the Celtics are coming off a big win over the Magic.  This could be a trap game if the Celtics see it as a break between contenders.  Hopefully they come out strong and take care of business early.  It would be a mistake to let them hang around  because they do have some very good players who could lead the Bobcats to a win if the Celtics let them gain some confidence.  

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo.....Ray Allen ..... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett..... Kendrick Perkins

Boston Bench Mob
Glen Davis
Semih Erden
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley

Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Shaquille O'Neal (hip/Achilles) day to day
Marquis Daniels (spinal chord)  out

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
Gerald Henderson
Nazr Mohammed
Sherron Collins

DeSagana Diop (Achilles) out
Tyrus Thomas  (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 I've said many times, 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 and this is a team that the Celtics should beat. 

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Boris Diaw
Diaw has been a bit out of shape this season and if KG is aggressive in this game he should be able to get whatever he wants on the offensive end. 

Keys to the Game
Focus and Energy - When the Celtics face teams with losing records, they often come out flat and lack focus and energy and that is why teams like Washington have been able to beat them.     The Celtics have got to stay focused and play with energy the entire game because the Bobcats always play hard and will take advantage of any lapse from the Celtics. 

Defense -   The Celtics need to make defense their priority.   Games are won on the defensive end. The effort that the Celtics put out on the defensive end carries over to the offensive end as well. 

Rebound -    Good things happen when the Celtics crash the boards.   When they show energy in rebounding, that energy spreads to other areas of the game.  They prevent second chance points and fast break baskets by grabbing the rebounds and that is important because of the effort that the Bobcats play with. 

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.

Official Report   
Ron Garretson
In his 23 NBA seasons, since 1987, Garretson officiated over 1,600 games, including 1,397 regular season NBA games, 157 playoff games and 11 Finals games. He also officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. He is the son of former NBA referee Darell Garretson. Before joining the NBA as a referee, he spent two years officiating high school games in Arizona and two more in the Continental Basketball Association. The Celtics are 6-4 over their last 10 games and 1-1 this season with Garretson. His home W/L record this season is 23-19. The loss this season was the game vs Chicago where the Bulls shot 35 free throws to 22 for the Celtics. At one point just after the half, Derrick Rose alone had almost doubled the Celtics free throws as a team. That performance elicited these comments from Bulls fans:
Book these refs for the playoffs please

Who hired these refs? Lets give them promotion after the game
Wow have never seen Rose draw so many fouls and get so many FTs.

Ron Garretson, Tommy Nunez, Sean Wright
Best refs of all time.

Best refs EVAR!!!

Mark Ayotte
This is Ayotte's 7th year as an NBA referee. He has 12 years of college officiating experience and 10 years of high school officiating experience before making it to the NBA. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games. The loss officiated by Ayotte this season was the Celtics 2 point loss in Washington where the Celtics shot 18 free throws and the Wizards shot 26. His home W/L record this season is 26-11.

Kane Fitzgerald
The Celtics are 5-0 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). The Knicks shot 42 free throws in that game while the Celtics shot 28. 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. He was also the ref for the Celtics 99-94 home win over the Bobcats this season in which the Bobcats shot 35 free throws to 25 for the Celtics. His home W/L record is 21-17 this season.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games after a tough game vs the Magic the night before.   Hopefully they don't run out of gas before the end of this one.