Celtics Host Big Baby and the Magic

OrlandoMagic (11-4) at Boston Celtics (6-9)
Monday, January 23
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #16,  Home Game #10
Radio:  WEEI,  WDBO
TD Garden
Referees:   Tom Washington,  LeRoy Richardson,  Scott Twardoski 
This is the first meeting between these two teams this season.  The Celtics are coming off a win over the struggling Wizards while the Magic are coming off a convincing win over the Lakers.   The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Magic have been off since Friday.   With rumors swirling around Dwight Howard, the Magic weren't expected to compete this season but have come out of the blocks surprisingly strong behind some otherworldly play by the aforementioned Howard.   

Ray Allen went out with a jammed ankle (whatever that means) in the second quarter of their win over the Wizards and did not return.  He limped off the court but after the game he stated that there was no swelling and the x-rays were negative and so he was hoping to play in this game.  He will probably be a game time decision as I haven't seen anything yet one way or the other.   If Ray can't go Marquis Daniels, E'Twaun Moore, or even Mickael Pietrus could get the start in his place. 

Rajon Rondo has missed the last 2 games with a sore wrist.  It was supposedly not serious and Rondo was ready to play the next day but he has been held out of 2 games in a row.  Either the wrist is worse than the Celtics are telling us or we should see Rondo in this game. Hedo Turkoglu has been out of the Magic lineup but news out of Orlando on Sunday night is that he is expected back for this game to face his old nemesis, Paul Pierce..  Hopefully Pierce will have another big game on both ends of the court as Turkoglu has burned the Celtics more than once.  If Turkoglu can't go, expect Jason Richardson to get the nod.

The Celtics are 4-5 at home while the Magic are 5-2 on the road.  Big Baby will be making his first visit to the Garden since being traded for Brandon Bass in the off season.  He should get a welcome but I'm not expecting any video montages or standing ovations.  

So far, the Celtics have not beaten a team above .500 and they need this win if they want to prove that they are legit and thus avoid having Danny blow the team up and start the rebuild now. 

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo   15.0 PPG,  9.4 APG,  5.1 RPG
Jameer Nelson  8.9 PPG, 5.6 APG,  2.4 RPG

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen  15.5 PPG,  2.5 APG,  .565 3P%
JJ Redick   12.5 PPG,  2.5 APG,  ...396 3P%

Small Forward

Paul Pierce   14.6 PPG,  4.7 RPG,  4.1 APG
Hedo Turkoglu   14.5 PPG,  3.3 RPG,  4.9 APG  

Power Forward  
Kevin Garnett  13.2 PPG,  7.3 RPG,  0.8 BPG
Ryan Anderson  17.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG,  0.2 BPG

Jermaine O'Neal  5.7 PPG,  5.5 RPG,  1.5 BPG
Dwight Howard   20.2 PPG, 16.1 RPG, 2.3 BPG

Celtics Reserves
Marquis Daniels
Brandon Bass
Mickael Pietrus
Greg Siemsma
Sasha Pavlovic
Avery Bradley
E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson


Keyon Dooling (knee) day to day
Chris Wilcox (calf)  day to day
Rajon Rondo (wrist) day to day
Ray Allen (ankle)  day to day

Magic Reserves
Chris Duhon
Glen Davis
Von Wafer
Quentin Richardson
Earl Clark
Justin Harper
Larry Hughes
Daniel Orton
DeAndre Liggins

Hedo Turkoglu (back) probable

Key Matchups  
Jermaine O'Neal vs Dwight Howard
This is the key matchup between these two teams. Dwight Howard leads his team in points (20.2), rebounds (16.1) and blocks (2.3) and steals (1.4).   Slowing down  Howard and keeping him off of his favorite spots around the basket is key to slowing down the Magic.  Perk is one of the few centers in the league who has been able to cover Howard one on one.  Since JO struggled with Gortat and McGee in the last 2 games it may be too much to hope that he can handle Howard.  We could see Brandon Bass on Howard some of the time.  Bass surely got experience guarding Howard in practice and may have some success in this game.   The strategy may have to be to let Howard get his and keep everyone else from putting up numbers.

Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
Rondo has been out 2 games with a sore wrist.  If the injury isn't serious, as the Celtics have said,  he should be back for this game.  The Celtics need a win over a quality opponent and a well rested and healthy Rondo will be key to getting one in this game.  Nelson has burned the Celtics in the past with is hot shooting and the Celtics need Rondo to not only run the offense but to keep Nelson off his game as well.   Of course, if Rondo doesn't play again,  Bradley will be charged with running the team and keeping Nelson in check.  

Honorable Mention
Brandon Bass  11.4 PPG,  6.2 RPG,  0.7 BPG
Glen Davis  7.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.2 BPG
This is a matchup of players who were traded for each other.  So far, in just about every game, I have had the thought that I'm very happy that we have Bass instead of Big Baby.  It will be interesting to see how Baby responds in his first visit back to the Garden.    

Keys to the Game
Play Smart for 48 Minutes -  The Celtics need a win over a contending team.  To do this, they must come out strong and play well throughout.  They can't afford a sluggish start and they can't afford the offensive droughts that they have had in almost every game.  They have to get off to a strong start and play hard and smart until the final buzzer.

Defense - Defense is the key to winning. Period. The Celtics have shown that they have the capability of shutting down teams in spurts and when they play tough defense, the offense runs more smoothly.  But when they falter on defense, it seems as though their game suffers on both ends.  The Celtics must defend the perimeter as the Magic have guys that can hit the 3 and they must also defend the paint where Howard does his damage.  

Rebound - Dwight Howard can take over a game on rebounds and put backs alone if the Celtics don't box him out and crash the boards as a team.  We don't have Perk to keep him away from the basket any longer and I don't see Jermaine being able to do so.  The Celtics will have to gang rebound and crash the boards as a team.    Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics must show both if they want to win this game.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive from start to finish.  They have to take the ball to the hoop and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling as they haven't been so far this season.  They also have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds as well.  

Limit Turnovers - It seems that the Celtics will go on a run and then turn the ball over several times right after to allow the other team right back in it.  They seem to let up at times and lose focus.  They must take care of the ball and limit their turnovers as the Magic will convert those turnovers into points on the other end.

Official Report
Tom Washington
Over his 20-season NBA officiating career, Tom Washington has officiated 1,196+ regular season games, 103 playoff games and two Finals games. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1995 Schick Rookie Game, the 1996 Japan
Games in Tokyo and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game. In addition to his 20 seasons with the NBA, Washington has two years of CBA officiating experience. He
has one year collegiate officiating experience and five years of high school officiating experience in his hometown of Philadelphia. The Celtics are 0-1 this season with Washington on the court, with the loss being the Pacer game where the Celtics were called for 24 fouls compared to 18 for the Pacers. They are 9-1 over their last 10 games with Washington. The Magic are 7-3 in their last 10 with Washington as a ref. His home W/L record this season is 7-5.

LeRoy Richardson
Leroy Richardson served his country for 12 years in the United States
Navy and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal and two Good Conduct Medals. After leaving the Navy, Richardson decided to pursue officiating full time. Since joining the NBA staff, he has officiated 961 regular season games and eight playoff games over the past 16 seasons, and was a member of the crew that officiated the 2000 Schick Rookie Game, 2000 NBA All-Star Saturday and the 2003 Japan Games. Richardson has three years of CBA officiating experience as well as 10 years of Pro-Am officiating experience including the 1992 Pro Am Nationals. He also has three years of collegiate officiating experience and eight years experience
officiating in Virginia high schools, where he worked the VHSL State Tournament. The Celtics have an 9-1 record in their last 10 games with Richardson as a referee. The Magic are 7-3 in their last 10 with Richardson. His home W/L record this season is 7-6.

Scott Twardoski
Twardowski is one of four new officials for the 2011-12 NBA season. His experience includes six seasons and 206 games officiated in the D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason game experience and worked in NBA summer camps for eight years. He also has seven seasons of WNBA experience. In addition to his professional experience, Twardoski officiated collegiate games for 12 years and 10 years of high school officiating experience. He has called one game for Boston, a win in Cleveland in January of last year and 2 games for Orlando, one a win and one a loss. His home W/L record for this season is 9-3.

Obviously it will be easier for the Celtics if Rondo and Ray both healthy and able to play.  And it would be ideal to have Dooling back as well.  If either Ray or Rondo is out, that will make getting a win in this game a whole lot harder.