Celtics Hoping a Visit to the Wizards will Cure What Ails Them

Boston Celtics (55-25) at Wizards (22-58)
Monday, April 11
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #81,  Home Game #41
TV:  CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 755/756
Radio:  WEEI,  WJFK
TD Garden 
Referees:    Dick Bavetta, Derrick Collins,  Kane Fitzgerald 
This is the Celtics 4th and final meeting of the season.  The Celtics are 2-1 against the Wizards, with the loss coming on the road.   The Celtics have dropped to 3rd in the East but there is still a sliver of hope for the second seed if the Celtics win both of their remaining games (Wizards/Knicks) and if Miami loses one of their remaining games (Atlanta/Toronto).  It's unlikely, but still a chance. 

The Wizards have been terrible on the road, but have played fairly well at home with a 19-21 record.  The Celtics are 23-17 on the road, including the earlier loss in Washington.  Both teams are 5-5 in their last 10 games.  The Celtics are coming off the loss to the Heat while the Wizards are coming off a big win over the Hawks. 

The Celtics got off to a good start against the Heat but then seemed to wilt.  One of the factors was the fact that Rondo was not aggressive and that set the pace for the team as a whole.  The Celtics had just 16 assists against the Heat and 14 against the Bulls and that is a big problem.  The Celtics success was built on team play and we have been seeing more individual play and less play as a team.   A game against the Wizards might be just what they need to find their chemistry and get back on track.  Or then again, they lost to them once and can't take even this team for granted.  

The Celtics have just 2 games to right what is wrong with the team.  They have been lacking chemistry and focus.  We have seen in spurts what they are capable of and then they lose their focus and play hero ball.  They also stop being aggressive.  Whether it is a mental problem, or a physical one, hopefully they can figure it out and remedy those problems in these last 2 games. 

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo...Ray Allen...Paul Pierce...Kevin Garnett... Jermaine O'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Glen Davis
Jeff Green
Delonte West
Nenad Krstic
Sasha Pavlovic
Carlos Arroyo
Troy Murphy
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley

Shaquille O'Neal (calf/old age) out 

Probable Starters
John Wall...Jordan Crawford...Maurice Evans...Andre Blatche...JaVale McGee

Wizards Bench

Kevin Seraphin
Yi Jianlian
Othyus Jeffers
Mustafa Shakur
Larry Owens

Josh Howard  (knee)  out 
Hamady N'Diaye (knee)  out
Nick Young (knee)  out 
Trevor Booker (foot)  out
Rashard Lewis (knee)  out 

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs John Wall
Wall has been playing very well and has averaged 18.6 points, 7.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds since the all star game.  Rondo dominated this matchup in their last meeting but then played very passively against the Heat.   Rondo needs to be aggressive and set the pace.  As Rondo goes so go the Celtics. 

Jermaine O'Neal vs Javale McGee
Jermaine O'Neal has been a non-factor in the last two games.  He has had 0 rebounds in his last 2 games and the Celtics have been out- rebounded in both games.    The Celtics need more out of their center position and JO must step up and be more of a force on both ends of the court. 

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Andray Blatche
Kevin Garnett has played well, even as the Celtics have struggled as a team.   Blatche has also been playing well and so KG needs to be aggressive both on offense and defense to win this matchup. 

Keys to the Game
Focus  Focus seems to be the biggest problem for this team lately.    They lose focus and stop doing the things that make them successful.  They fail to move the ball and be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds.     They must come out focused and stay focused until the final buzzer. 

Rebound  The Celtics must crash the boards and keep the Wizards from getting second chance points, fast break opportunities and extra possessions. They were out rebounded by the Bulls and then they were out-rebounded by a large margin by the Heat.     As I have said before, when the Celtics put out the effort necessary to win the battle of the boards, that effort seems to pick up every area of their game as well. 

    Defense always wins games and it will win the championship as well.  The Celtics have to make defense their priority and shut down the paint as well as staying on their outside shooters. Lately the Celtics have played defense in spurts but they have allowed way too many easy baskets and have allowed teams to outscore them in the paint.    When the Celtics clamp down on defense the rest of their game picks up. 

Be Aggressive  The Celtics need to play aggressively.  They need to take the ball to the hoop and try to get to the line early and often.   They also have to go for every loose ball and battle for all the rebounds.   They played passively against both the Bulls and the Heat and if they play that way in this game, they could be facing another loss.     

Move the Ball  When the Celtics move the ball and rack up assists they are very hard to beat.  When the ball sticks and they try to do too much individually and forget the team game, that's when they are vulnerable.  They had just 14 assists against the Bulls and just 16 against the Heat and that is not acceptable.   They have to stick with what works and that is making the extra pass, finding the open man and not playing hero ball which we have seen all too much this season. 

Official Report
Dick Bavetta
Dick Bavetta was born December 10, 1939. He has never missed an assigned game in 32 seasons of action. He has worked 2,200+ regular season games, 230+ play-off games and 24 NBA Finals games. He currently holds the record for most games officiated. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Bavetta. He was singled out in Tim Donaghy's book for being a "company man" and carrying out league agendas in games. Bavetta also likes to keep games close and will often make a lot of calls against a team that pulls out to a lead to keep the two teams close. After watching a game where Bavetta has officiated, it's very easy to believe Donaghy's claims. He was left off the playoff roster last season and there were rumors of a forced retirement but here he is back again for another season. There are also rumors that he died 3 years ago and his contract with the devil allows him to continue to referee games. In his 4 games with the Celtics this season, he hasn't been a factor in the game. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Bavetta on the court. The Wizards are 2-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Bavetta. His home W/L record is 38-29.

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 2-2 with Collins this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games. In all 4 games this season, the Celtics took fewer free throws than their opponents (Nets 24-8; Lakers 25-19; Kings 28-11; Pistons 20-18). The Nets and Lakers games were particularly poorly officiated. The Wizards are 1-2 this season and are 3-7 with Collins in their last 10 games. His home W/L record this season is 38-28.

Kane Fitzgerald
The Celtics are 6-2 this season with Fitzgerald officiating. He has officiated more of the Celtics games this season than any other ref. Over those 8 games opponents have shot 230 free throws compared to 200 for the Celtics. He is a former D-League official and is in his second season calling NBA games. One of those wins was no thanks to Fitzgerald who gave KG a very quick pair of technicals (from about 30 feet away) and tossed him in the 2nd quarter of the Celtics 104-101 win over the Knicks (in which Amare scored 30). In another outing with the Celtics, the loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte, he tossed Stephen Jackson after 2 quick questionable T's. His quickness with the T dates back to his days in the D-league where he was close to the top in calling technical fouls there as well. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Fitzgerald and the Wizards 2-3 this season and they are 3-7 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 38-23 this season.

Back to Back and Focus
The Celtics are playing in yet another back to back set.  The Celtics are 8-10 in the second of back to back games but they are just 2-5  when both games are on the road.  If the Celtics focus on the things that make them successful, like moving the ball, being aggressive, crashing the boards, etc,  they will beat this team.  If they play with half effort again, this could be another loss