Celtics Look to Get Back on Track in Philly

Boston Celtics (46-16) at Philadelphia 76ers (33-31)
Friday, March 11
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #63, Road Game #30
TV:   CSN-NE,  CSN-P, NBA-LP 755
Radio:  WEEI,  WIP
Wells Fargo Center
Referees:   Bob Delaney,  Michael Smith,  Haywoode Workman
This is the 3rd meeting between these two divisional rivals.  The Celtics are 2-0 against the Sixers this season so far, but both games were close.  In the first game in Philly, it took a KG dunk on a lob pass from Rondo with 1.4 seconds left for a 102-101 victory.   The second game was a 4 point come from behind victory that took 14 trips to the line in the final 12 minutes to pull out.

The Celtics are 19-10 on the road and 8-2 in their last 10 games.  The Sixers are 21-11 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games.  Both teams are coming off a loss on Wednesday with the Celtics losing to the Clippers and the Sixers losing to the Thunder. 

 The Celtics are still short handed, especially in the front line, with Shaq, Jermaine and Von Wafer all expected to be out for awhile and Big Baby and Delonte not expected back until at least Sunday. 
The Sixers are at full strength with no injuries reported.
 The Celtics have a second unit that had never played together  before this week.  While some of the players are getting more accustomed to the Celtics system, they are still a long way from developing the kind of chemistry the Celtics had before the trade deadline.  Hopefully Doc doesn't put all 5 on the court together like he did against the Clippers.

The Celtics need a better effort than we saw from them in their last game.   The Bulls are just 1.5 games back of the Celtics and are playing their best basketball of the season.  They also have a fairly easy schedule remaining.  If the Celtics want to hold on to home court they have to put fort better effort and win the games they should win. 

Probable Starters

PG: Rajon Rondo..................................................SG Ray Allen

C:  Nenad Krstic

SF:  Paul Pierce ................................. ............PF Kevin Garnett

Coach: Doc Rivers

Boston Bench Mob
Sasha Pavlovic
Troy Murphy
Jeff Green
Carlos Arroyo
Avery Bradley

Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out 
Delonte West (ankle) out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Von Wafer (calf)  out
Glen Davis (knee)  day to day

Probable Starters

PG: Jrue Holiday ......................................................SF:  Jodie Meeks

C:  Spencer Hawes

SF:  Andre Iguodala .................................................. PF:  Elton Brand

Sixers Bench
Thaddeus Young
Andres Nocioni
Lou Williams
Marreese Speights
Tony Battie
Jason Kapono
Craig Brackins
Darius Songaila 
Evan Turner


Key Matchups 
Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala
Paul Pierce will need to work on the defensive end to keep Iguodala from having a big game offensively.  In his last game, Iguodala let Kevin Durant go off for 34 points and 16 rebounds.  If Pierce plays aggressively, he could be in for a big game.


Kevin Garnett vs Elton Brand 
Brand had 13 points and 15 rebounds in his last game against the Thunder.   KG had 16 points and 8 rebounds against the Clippers but was just 5-19 from the floor.  Hopefully he can bounce back and have a big game in this one.   With all the injuries to the bigs,  KG needs to step up his game even more during his time on the court.

Honorable Mention
Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
Rondo has had a couple of very un-Rondo-like sub-par games recently.  Holiday is a very good young point guard.  On Wednesday he put up 22 points, 8 assists and 3 steals against Russell Westbook.  Hopefully Rondo can snap back in this one as the Celtics need him on both ends of the floor if they want to get a win. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics defense has slipped considerably with all the new players and the injuries.  They must get back to making defense a priority and the new players have to get on the same page defensively or the Celtics could be in trouble. 

Rebound -   The Sixers are a good rebounding team and the Celtics have to put more effort into crashing the boards.  The Celtics have to limit the Sixers' rebounds to prevent second chance baskets and tip ins.  They also need to give themselves extra possessions, especially if they shoot as poorly as they did on Wednesday. 

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics came out very flat against the Clippers.  They spotted them a 23 point lead before finally beginning to play hard but weren't able to overcome the hole that they had dug.  They have had slow starts in several games recently and have also given up leads.   They have to play 48 minutes and get away from slow starts and 4th quarter let downs. 

Bench Play - With 5 players out, the Celtics bench consists of 5 players who never played together before this week.  They seem to be struggling to find chemistry.  Hopefully Doc will keep at least one starter on the court with the new guys because the unit of 5 newbies together looked completely lost in the game vs the Clippers. 

Move the Ball -  The Celtics had just 21 assists compared to 28 for the Clippers.  They are tough to beat when they move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man.  When the ball sticks and players abandon the team offense, they struggle.  They have to trust each other and get back to playing as a team rather than as individuals.   

Official Report
Bob Delaney
Delaney has officiated over 1,300 regular season games, 120+ play-off games and 7 NBA Finals games. Delaney was formerly a police officer. He worked under cover in an investigation of New Jersey organized crime and helped to bring a portion of the mob in that state down. While serving as a police officer, Delaney was also a high school basketball referee in New Jersey from 1972 to 1982 and later officiated in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) for four years before being selected by scouts to officiate in the NBA, beginning in 1987. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Delaney officiating and are 2-4 so far this season. The Sixers are also 4-6 with Delaney in their last 10 games. If you recall, it was Bob Delaney that Shaq was fined for calling out after the Celtics Christmas Day loss in Orlando. He was also terrible in the Denver game ignoring many Denver fouls including a flagrant by KMart on KG that should have been called. The Nuggets shot 23 free throws to just 15 for the Celtics. His home W/L record this season is 29-20.

Michael Smith
Michael Smith has officiated over 740+ regular season games and 10 playoff games. He worked 5 years in the CBA, 8 years at the college level and 10 years at the high school level before making it to the NBA. The Celtics are 2-1 with Smith this season. His last 2 games with the Celtics were both poorly officiated. In the Magic at Celtics on January 17, the Celtics won but the Magic took 13 more free throws than the Celtics and the officiating was terrible for both teams. In the last game he officiated, Golden State had a 26-6 free throw advantage with just over 8 minutes left and the Celtics ended with a 28-11 free throw deficit even after several intentional fouls to stop the clock. The officiating was terrible the whole game. Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Smith on the court. His home W/L is 34-14.

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. The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 6-4 over the last 10 games with Workman calling the games while the Sixers are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Workman. Workman also called the Golden State game with Smith that was called quite one sided. His home W/L record is 19-27 this season.

Focus and Chemistry
The Celtics need to focus on winning the games that they should win.  They seem to get up for the big games but then lose focus against teams like the Clippers.   They have to come out focused and play focused until the final buzzer.   They also have to try to get some chemistry with the new players.  It seems at times like they are playing as individuals and not as a team.