Celtics Continue Road Trip With a Stop in Indy

Boston Celtics (51-21) at Indiana Pacers (32-42)
Monday, March 28
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #73, Road Game #36
TV:  CSNNE, FSI, SNET1, NBA-LP 753/754
Radio:  WEEI, WFNI
Conseco Field House
Referees:  Ed Malloy, Rodney Mott, Haywoode Workman
The Celtics continue their road trip with the Indiana Pacers.  This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams.  The Celtics have won all 3 games so far.   In the last game, the starters started off slowly as has been their recent trend, scoring just 15 points in the first quarter.  The second unit, led by 19 from Jeff Green brought the team back.  The reserves finished the game for a 92-80 win while the starters finished on the bench. 

Indiana is in the 8th spot in the East, 3.5 games behind New York for the 7th seed and just one game in front of Charlotte for the 8th seed.  They are fighting to stay in contention for that 8th seed and so every game is important to them.  The Celtics should expect a strong effort from the Pacers and they will need to match that effort if they expect to get a win in this game. 

After Sunday's games, the Celtics are back to 2 games out of the 1st spot and only half a game in front of Miami for the second seed.   Chicago is playing at home against Philly on Monday and should win that game.  Miami is off and so if the Celtics win this one they will keep pace with the two teams.  If they lose they drop 3 games out of first and tied for the 2nd spot with Miami but the Celtics own the tie breaker. 

 Even though the Celtics got the win against the Wolves on Sunday,  it can't be much of an encouragement since they gave up a 25 point lead to one of the worst teams in the league that was playing without their best player and barely pulled out a 3 point win.  Hopefully they can use that win as a starting place and will finally have a game when they play well for 48 minutes. 

The Celtics are playing in another of the dreaded back to back games.  They are now 7-7 overall in the second game of back to backs and  2-3 in the second game when both games are on the road.  Both teams are 5-5 in their last 10 games.  The Celtics are 22-13 on the road and the Pacers are 19-16 at home.  The Pacers have lost their last 2 games. 

Jermaine O'Neal is supposed to be joining the Celtics in Indiana and stay with the team through the last 3 games of the road trip.  He isn't expected to play until at least Thursday, but his presence should give the team a much needed boost.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Delonte West  vs  Darren Collison   

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen   vs  Paul George 

Small Forward
Paul Pierce  vs  Danny Granger   

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett  vs  Tyler Hansbrough

Nenad Krstic  vs  Roy Hibbert 

Celtics Reserves 
Glen Davis
Jeff Green
Sasha Pavlovic
Avery Bradley
Carlos Arroyo

Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles)  out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) day to day
Troy Murphy (ankle) day to day
Von Wafer (calf)  day to day
Rajon Rondo (pinky) questionable

Pacers Reserves
Brandon Rush
Solomon Jones
James Posey
Dahntay Jones
TJ Ford
Jeff Foster 
AJ Price
Lance Stephenson
Josh McRoberts

Mike Dunleavy (thumb)  out 

Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Danny Granger
Danny Granger is a very good player but he has struggled against the Celtics in recent games.  Pierce usually plays well against Granger and scored 20 in the last game after putting up a triple double in the game before that. 

Kevin Garnett vs Tyler Hansbrough
KG has to be frustrated with the play of the Celtics of late and he would be the one Celtic I can see taking the team to task and getting them back on track.  In the last game between these 2 teams, Hansbrough had a streak of five 20 point games broken as he struggled to score against KG throughout the game and finished with just 10 points on 4-13 shooting. 

Honorable Mention
Delonte West vs Darren Collison
Delonte played very well at the point and got the Celtics off to a good start against the Wolves.  He always brings energy and in spite of playing in pain, he will always go all out.  The Celtics need West to lead the offense and keep the ball moving and not allow the Celtics to lapse back into individual play. 

Keys to the Game
Defense -  I watched the end of the Bulls/Bucks game and realized how much the Celtics defense has slipped.  The Bulls simply shut the Bucks down at the end.  The Celtics must get back to playing team defense and being able to get stops down the stretch.   They must defend for 48 minutes instead of just in spurts. 

Rebound -  When the Celtics put out the effort needed to crash the boards, that effort transfers to the other areas of their game as well.  Winning the rebounding battle also prevents second chance points for the Pacers as well as limits fast break opportunities.   Indiana out rebounded the Celtics 49-36 in their last meeting.  Rebounding is effort and desire and the Celtics must show both to win the battle of the boards. 

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have been playing very passively.  They must be more aggressive if they want to snap out of this slump.  They have to go after loose balls and rebounds. They also must be more aggressive on defense and they need to take the ball to the basket instead of settling for quick jumpers. 

Ubuntu - Doc called out the team for being selfish and being all about themselves instead of team.   The Celtics have to go back to what ubuntu means and play team ball once again.  They need to move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man.  They have to play team defense and remember it's "we not me." 

Official Report

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. Malloy was one of the officials in the Golden State game where the Warriors took 26 free throws to 11 for the Celtics (it was 28-6 before the intentional fouls at the end). But then in the game against Portland that Malloy officiated, the Celtics took 33 free throws to 13 for the Blazers so it evens out. The Celtics are 5-0 this season and 9-1 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The Pacers are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Malloy. His home W/L record is 37-27.

Rodney Mott
Mott has been in the NBA for 12 years. In this time he has officiated over 540 regular season games and only one playoff game. He is from New Albany, IN so he probably grew up a Pacers fan. In 2007, Mott was suspended without pay for 3 games for making an obscene gesture and inappropriate comment toward a fan. Mott challenged the charges and said that they used him as a scapegoat to take attention away from other issues, but the suspension stood. The Celtics are 1-1 with Mott this season and 7-3 over their last 10. The Pacers are 5-5 with Mott this season. His home W/L record this season is 36-27.

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 including playing 4 years for the Pacers (conflict of interest anyone?). The Celtics are 3-2 this season and 6-4 over the last 10 games with Workman. Workman also worked the Golden State game where the officiating was very one sided and the free throw discrepancy was 28-11 and he was also working that Portland game where the Celtics had 33 free throws to 13 for the Sixers. Indiana is 2-8 this season with Workman. He is definitely not a homer ref with a home W/L record of 24-29 this season.

Pride and Focus
The Celtics may not be worried about the top seed but  they need to get their focus back and play to win simply for Celtics Pride.  Their play of late has been anything but something to be proud of.