at Memphis Grizzlies (39-32) at Boston Celtics (50-19)
Wednesday, March 23
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #70, Home Game #36
TV: CSN-NE, SSO-MEM, NBA-LP 756/757
Radio: WEEI, WRBO
Referees: Steve Javie, Tony Brown, Olandis Poole This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. In the first game, the Celtics came away with a 116-110 win in Memphis. The Grizzlies have lost 2 in a row on the road coming into this game. The Celtics have won their last 2 and 5 of their last 6 at home.
The Celtics are half a game behind the Bulls for the top seed in the East After the Bulls blew out the Hawks in Atlanta on Tuesday. If the Celtics want to keep pace with the Bulls for that top seed, they need to get this win. The Grizzlies are in a fight on the other end of the conference. They are up 2 on the Rockets for the 8th and final spot in the East and 1 game behind the Hornets for the 7th seed.
The Celtics would do well not to take the Grizzlies for granted. They have won 21 of their last 30 games. They are also 8-6 since Rudy Gay went down with the shoulder injury. They are a good defensive team, leading the league in forced turnovers and steals. They also tend to hold leads when they get them as they are 19-0 when leading at the half so the Celtics need to get off to a good start and not dig themselves a hole in this game.
The Celtics are 29-6 at home, with all 6 losses against western conference teams. The Grizzlies are 14-22 on the road. Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games as well as having a 2 game win streak. Hopefully the Celtics will come out strong and play 48 minutes in this one instead of waiting until the second half to play. And it sure would be nice for Shaq to make a surprise return in this one but that's doubtful.
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo 10.2 PPG, 11.5 APG, 2.3 SPG
Mike Conley 13.9 PPG, 6.7 APG, 1.8 SPG
Ray Allen 17.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, .459 3P%
Tony Allen 8.3 PPG, 1.3 APG, .235 3P%
Paul Pierce 18.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.3 APG
Sam Young 6.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.9 APG
Kevin Garnett 15.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 0.8 BPG
Zach Randolph 20.1 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 0.4 BPG
Nenad Krstic 8.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.4 BPG
Marc Gasol 11.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Boston Bench Mob
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) Day to Day
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Von Wafer (calf) out
Troy Murphy (nose) questionable
Grizzlies Bench Players
Rudy Gay (shoulder) out
Xavier Henry (knee) out
Jason Williams (back) questionable
Kevin Garnett vs Zach Randolph
Randolph is a strong and tough player who will be tough for KG to handle. Previously, Perk would handle Randolph and allow KG to handle Gasol. I'm not sure Krstic will be able to handle Randolph on the defensive end. It sure would be nice to hear that the rumors of Shaq returning for this game are true. Otherwise, hopefully they can slow Randolph and keep the rest of the team from going off.
Rajon Rondo vs Mike Conley
It was great to see Rondo show signs of getting back to normal against the Knicks with 12 assists and several drives to the hoop where he finished well. As I've said many times, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. Rondo needs to continue his aggressive play in this game to give the Celtics a good chance of a win.
Paul Pierce vs Sam Young
Paul Pierce snapped back from a sub-par game against the Hornets to win the Tommy Award and help lead the Celtics to victory against the Knicks. He should have the advantage over Sam Young, who is in his second year. It would be great to see Pierce get off to a good start and have another strong performance.
Keys to the Game Rebound - Rebounding is very important in limiting fast break points and second chance points for the Grizz. The Grizzlies lead the league in points in the paint and quite a few of those points are the result of offensive rebounds and putbacks. The Celtics must be aggressive in crashing the boards.
Take Care of the Ball - The Grizzlies lead the league in forced turnovers (16.7) and steals (9.38) and they are 2nd in points off turnovers. The Celtics must take care of the ball and avoid careless passes and lapses in focus or the Grizzlies will make them pay.
Defense - The team that works hardest on defense will be the team that wins. The Grizzlies have held teams under 100 points 43 times already this season and are a good defensive team. In their last 2 games the Celtics have pretty much ignored defense in the first half of the game and then clamped down in the second half to pull off the win. It would be very smart for the Celtics to begin the game with tough defense or they may end up in a hole they can't climb out of in this game. The Celtics should especially defend the paint as the Grizzlies lead the league in points in the paint at 50.9 points per game.
Be Aggressive for 48 Minutes - When the Celtics are passive and settle for jumpers and don't swarm on defense they end up in trouble. They have started out in passive mode the past 3 games and dug a hole for themselves and then played hard for the final 2 quarters ending with 2 wins and a loss. They would make it much easier on themselves if they would begin the game being aggressive and play for 48 minutes instead of 24.
Move the Ball - In the first half vs the Knicks the Celtics played too much one on one on the offensive end. They didn't move the ball and settled for quick shots. When the Celtics move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man, they are tough to beat, as the Knicks found out in the second half. The Celtics need to begin the game with ball movement and make the extra pass in order to beat the Grizzlies defense.
Steve Javie has been officiating games since the 1986-87 season and has officiated over 1,300+ regular season games, 190+ play-off games, and 18 NBA Finals games. He had refereed in the Finals every year since 1995 up until last year when he missed the playoffs with a knee injury. He is one of the more respected referees in the league by most fans but he is not without controversy. He was fined for telling Pat Riley “It‘s giving us absolute delight to watch you and your team die.” He also isn't very well liked in Portland after tossing their broadcaster, Mike Rice, from a game. He was also once threatened by Sheed when he played in Portland. Javie's career was in jeopardy when he missed last year's playoffs with knee problems. He joins players like Wally Sczcerbiak, Jermaine O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Brandon Roy who have knees that are reportedly bone on bone. The Celtics are 2-1 this season. The loss was in Phoenix where Javie called 2 technical fouls on Doc and tossed him and then called 2 on KG and tossed him as well as one on Perk and Nate. No T's were called on the Suns although some were warranted. The 6 free throws and ejections ended a run by the Celtics and sealed the loss for them. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 with Javie calling the games while the Grizzlies are 3-7 in their last 10 with Javie. Javie's home W/L record is 26-16 this season.
This is Brown's 8th season in the NBA. He has officiated over 220+ regular season games and is one of only 3 active officials to have worked in all 3 leagues associated with the NBA family. Before starting his career in the NBA he worked for the NBDL, the CBA and the WNBA. He also officiated games at the college level. This is the first game that Brown is officiating for the Celtics this season. His home W/L record is 32-23.
Poole has officiated over 110+ regular season games and spent 3 years in the NBA D-League before coming to the NBA. He also spent 12 years officiating at the college level. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 9-1 over their last 10 games with Poole as a ref. Memphis is 5-5 over their last 10 games with Poole. His home W/L record this season is 34-21.
Focus and Home Court
The Celtics have defended their home court fairly well this season but their losses have come against Western conference foes. The Celtics need to focus on playing Celtic ball and let the home crowd give them the extra boost to get the win.