Newcomers Debut as Celtics Take on that Other LA Team

Boston Celtics (41-15) at Los Angeles Clippers (21-38)
Saturday, February 26
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #57,  Road Game #27
Radio:  WEEI, KFWB
Staples Center 
Referees:  Ron Garretson, Marat Kogut, Gary Zielinski
This is the first meeting this season with the Clippers and they are the only team left that the Celtics have not yet played.   The Celtics should have their new players in uniform for this game but without any practice, it isn't certain how effective they can be.  At least they are bodies to absorb a few minutes and perhaps fouls until Danny's grand plan becomes clearer.

The Clippers are going through some changes themselves as Baron Davis was sent to Cleveland for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon and they will need to work them into the rotation along with getting past missing their former teammate.

Last season, the Celtics split the season series 1‐1.   Paul Pierce netted 22 points in his only game against the Clippers last season and Rajon Rondo averaged 18.0 points, 9.0 assists and 3.0 steals in the two contests…Perk recorded 9.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his two games but thanks to Danny, the Celtics won't have his strength in the middle this game.  The Clippers were
led by Baron Davis and his 20.0 points and 10.0 assists per game.

The Celtics have had a day off while the Clippers had an "away" game vs the Lakers on Friday night.  The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Clippers have been struggling and have won just 2 of their last 10 games.  The Celtics are now 16-10 on the road while the Clippers are 16-14 at home.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Eric Bledsoe

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Randy Foye

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Ryan Gomes

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Blake Griffin

Nenad Krstic vs DeAndre Jordan

Avery Bradley
Jeff Green
Chris Johnson
Von Wafer
Delonte West
Glen Davis 

Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out

Brian Cook
Al-Farouq Aminu
Rasual Butler
Craig Smith
Chris Kaman
Willie Warren
Ike Diogu
Jamario Moon
Mo Williams

Eric Gordon (wrist)  questionable

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Eric Bledsoe
Rondo had an off night vs the Nuggets and part of that could be losing his best friend on the same day.  Hopefully he can bounce back and set the pace in this game.  He should be able to get the best of Bledsoe if he puts out the effort.

Kevin Garnett vs Blake Griffin
This should be a fun matchup to watch.  Blake Griffin is the league's new wonder kid and KG should take this matchup personally and teach the new kid a few tricks from an old vet.  KG talked about how hard it was to play after learning that Perk was traded and hopefully he will be able to keep his mind on the game in this one.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics must continue to make defense their number 1 priority.    They struggled to stop Denver on Thursday allowing them to go on a 16-0 run at the end of the game.  In spite of losing the heart of their defense, they have to find a way to get back to playing the team defense that has been their calling card in the past.

Rebound -  The Celtics need to make an effort to crash the boards, especially on the offensive end.   The Clippers are capable of running on the break if the Celtics don't prevent it by keeping them from getting the rebounds.  Griffin is also very dangerous around the basket getting tip ins and second chance baskets.

Focus - The Celtics seemed to lose focus or maybe they just lost their heart down the stretch against Denver.  They have to come out focused and try to put losing their teammates behind them.  With Miami winning on Friday, the Celtics have to stay focused and pull out a win to keep pace with them.  

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 1-2 this season with Garretson. His home W/L record this season is 24-24. One 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!!!
Marat Kogut
Kogut has been in the NBA since 2009. The sun of immigrants from the Ukraine, his younger years were sometimes tough. At one time he and his family were homeless and slept on a park bench when they were forced to leave a Queens homeless center. In high school, he spent his free time volunteering as a ref at a local recreation league. At 6-foot-2, he knew he wasn’t tall or talented enough to make the pros as a player. At 16, Kogut became the youngest person certified by the local International Association of Approved Basketball Officials. He spent time working college, D-League and WNBA games before being called up to the NBA. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 3-3 in the last 5 with Kogut calling the games. His home W/L record this season is 26-18.

Gary Zielinski
Zielinski has officiated over 285+ regular season games. He has not yet made it to the playoff pool of referees. He worked 6 years in the CBA and 4 seasons in the WNBA before coming to the NBA. He officiated the WNBA finals from 1998-2001. The Celtics are 3-0 in games called by Zielinski this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Zielinski on the court. His home W/L record is 28-16.

Focus and Chemistry
The Celtics admitted that it was hard to play basketball after learning that their teammates had been traded.  They have to try to put that behind them and focus on the game.  Also, Pierce mentioned concerns about chemistry.  With the new players expected to play,  the chemistry issues become real and they have to find a way to fit their new teammates into the system and to make up for the teammates they lost.