Celtics Visit Nets Looking for the Series Sweep

Boston Celtics (47-17) at New Jersey Nets (20-43)
Monday,  March 14
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #65,  Road Game #31
TV:  CSNNE, YES,  SNET1, NBA-LP 751/752
Radio:  WEEI
Prudential Center
 Referees:  Bennett Salvatore, Derrick Collins, Mark Lindsay
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two division rivals.  The Celtics won the first 3 games 89-83, 100-75, and 94-80.  All 3 meetings were before the trade deadline and both teams changed considerably at that point.  The Nets new point guard has been away from the team for personal reasons but is expected to practice on Sunday and play against the Celtics on Monday.  Williams' presence has given the Nets new hope of making the playoffs.  They are just 5.5 games out of 8th place and are making a push having won their last 4 games. 

The Celtics have struggled somewhat to find their rhythm and chemistry since the trades that brought in 5 new players.    They are hoping to get some help as players return from injury and make a push of their own for the top seed in the East but Chicago is right there with them and if the Celtics stumble, the Bulls are ready to charge.  Big Baby's return was a big success on Sunday.  Delonte is expected to make his return on Wednesday.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Nets have been off since Friday.  The Celtics starters were able to get rest in the 4th quarter and no starter played more than 31 minutes.    In their last 10 games, the Celtics are 7-3 and the Nets are 4-6.   The Nets are 16-16 at home while the Celtics are 19-11 on the road.  The Nets are on a 4 game win streak after losing their previous 6.  The Celtics bounced back to win their last game after losing 2 in a row. 

If the Celtics come out with the same intensity they had when facing the Bucks, there is no doubt that they will be able to get a win in this game. 

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo.....Ray Allen ..... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett..... Nenad Krstic

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

Shaquille O'Neal (knee)  out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist)  doubtful
Von Wafer (calf) out

Probable Starters
Deron Williams.....Anthony Morrow.... Sasha Vujacic.... Kris Humphries...Brook Lopez

Nets Bench
Jordan Farmar
Travis Outlaw
Stephen Graham
Johan Petro
Ben Uzoh
Sundiata Gaines
Dan Gadzuric
Brandon Wright

Damion James (foot)  out
Quinton Ross (back) out
Deron Williams (personal) probable

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
Rondo usually gets up for the top PG's in the league and has had some good battles with Williams when he was with the Jazz.  Rondo has been slumping somewhat in recent games and so hopefully this matchup will be good for what ails him and will get him back on the right track. 

Paul Pierce vs Sasha Vujacic
This should be a mismatch in the Celtics favor and Pierce should be able to score at will against Vujacic if he puts any effort into it at all. 

Honorable Mention
Nenad Krstic vs Brook Lopez
Lopez is a good young center and has some strong moves around the basket.  Krstic has been a pleasant surprise so far on offense and with his rebounding.  Hopefully Krstic is picking up the Celtics defensive schemes or Lopez may have a big night. 

Keys to the Game

Focus - The Celtics must come out focused and stay focused for 48 minutes.  They can't take this team for granted as they are much better with Williams at the helm and have been playing very well lately.  The Celtics have to come out strong and play hard the entire game.  No slow starts or let downs. 

Defense - The key to every win is defense.  The Celtics have got to put out the effort on the defensive end and when the defense is on track, that fuels the offense.  They had been struggling on the defensive end but seem to have rediscovered their intensity on that end against the Bucks.  They need to come out with the same intensity against the Nets. 

Rebound - Rebounding is another big key to getting a win.  The Celtics must put out the effort on the boards to prevent second chance baskets and put backs from the Nets.   Krstic will need to box out Lopez who is very good at getting tip ins. 

Move the Ball
- The Celtics need to move the ball and make the extra pass.  When they hold the ball too much and try to do too much they struggle but when they move the ball and trust each other, they are tough to beat. 

Official Report
Bennett Salvatore
Salvatore may just be the worst ref in the league, and that is saying alot. Almost always one team or the other gets an advantage when he is officiating and I'll give you a hint, it usually isn't the Celtics.

Salvatore made one of the most controversial calls in NBA finals history in game 5 of the 2006 finals. The call basically gave the Heat their championship. Here is Bill Simmons' take on the call.
Salvatore called the foul on Wade's final drive in overtime (remember, the call where ABC couldn't find a replay to show that anyone touched him?) even though he was standing at midcourt a full 35-40 feet from the play, and even though two other refs were closer to the play. Not only was that NOT his call, he butchered it.
Another of Salvatore's "butchered" calls was in the 2008 conference finals when he waved off a contested 3-pointer that Paul Pierce had hoisted over Richard Hamilton, inducing him to leave his feet with a ball fake and land on Pierce. Pierce, however, was charged with an offensive foul for creating the contact with Hamilton. The Celtics are 3-0 with Salvatore this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with him. The Nets are 2-8 with in their last 10 games with Salvatore. His home W/L record is 21-15.

Just to prepare you for tonight's game, here's a few videos to check out.

Derrick Collins
Collins has been an official in the league for 9 years. He has experience in the CBA five years and in the WNBA three years. He has also officiated 7 years on the collegiate level and seven years on the high school level in California and Louisiana. The Celtics are 2-1 with Collins this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Nets are 4-6 with Collins in their last 10 games. His home W/L record this season is 30-25.

Mark Lindsay
Mark Lindsay made his debut in the NBA in 2007 after spending time in the NBDL. Before the NBDL, Lindsay spent 9 years calling games at the college level. The Celtics are 1-1 in games called by Lindsay this season. The first game was a 2 point loss at Washington in which the Wizards shot 26 free throws to 18 for the Celtics and the game was poorly called. The second was the game in Milwaukee where not a lot of fouls were called on either team and they let them play without a bias for either team. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Linday making the calls and the Nets are 3-7 in their last 10 with Lindsay. His home W/L record this season is 31-17.

Fatigue and Chemistry
The starters were playing way too many minutes after the trade between injuries and working in new players.  With the new players getting more familiar with the system and the injured players beginning to return, hopefully Doc can get the starters some rest but for now they will need to play through the fatigue and still show energy and hustle on the court. The limited minutes they got against the Bucks should help with fatigue in this game.   They also must continue to build chemistry between the new and the old and the returning players.