Celtics Host Nash and the Suns, Looking for a 2 Game Win Streak

Phoenix Suns (5-9) at Boston Celtics (5-8)
Friday, January 20
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #14, Home Game #9
TV:  CSN-NE,FSA, NBA-LP 755/756
Radio:  WEEI, KTAR
TD Garden 
Referees:  Greg Willard,  Brent Bernacky,  James Williams 
The Celtics home stand continues with a visit from the Suns.  Like the Celtics the Suns are coming off a victory that ended a 5 game losing streak.   Both teams have just 5 wins and both teams have key players who are on the down side of their careers.  Much has been made of the age of the Celtics' big 3 but the Suns have a 37 year old point guard and a 39 year old small forward so they join the ranks of the elder statesmen as well. 

Rondo injured his wrist in a fall in the Raptors' game.  Doc has said it's doubtful that he will play.  Rondo on the other hand has said that he will get treatment and will probably play.   It will probably be a game time decision and we'll see who wins.  The MRI on his injured wrist came out negative and Rond participated in the morning shoot around.   I imagine that Rondo will win out and play in this one.   If Rondo doesn't play, expect Bradley to get the start as Moore has been getting the nod with the second unit lately and Doc likes to keep the rotation intact when possible. 

The win over the Raptors was good, but the Celtics have to start stringing wins together at some point to gain legitimacy as a possible contender as well as to gain confidence.

Probable Starting Lineup
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG:  Ray Allen

C: Jermaine O'Neal
SF:   Paul Pierce
PF:   Kevin Garnett

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

Keyon Dooling (knee) day to day
Chris Wilcox  (calf)  day to day
Jermaine O'Neal  (wrist) probable
Rajon Rondo (wrist) doubtful per Doc and probable per Rondo.

Probable Starting Lineup
PG:  Steve Nash 
SG: Jared Dudley 

C:  Marcin Gortat   
SF: Grant Hill   
PF: Channing Frye 

Suns Reserves
Markieff Morris
Ronnie Price
Shannon Brown
Hakim Warrick
Sebastian Telfair
Robin Lopez
Josh Childress
Michael Redd


Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Steve Nash
I expect that if there's any way possible, Rondo will be on the court for this one.  Unless something is found in the MRI or he can't use the wrist, I think he will be up for the matchup with 2 time MVP, Steve Nash.  He should have a speed advantage over Nash, but he will have to work on the defensive end as Nash can burn you from anywhere on the floor if you give him a step.  Nash is leading the league in assists at 10.1 per game while Rondo is second with 9.4 assists per game. 

Kevin Garnett vs Channing Frye
Last season in a meeting between these two teams, Frye did a great acting job when KG hit him below the belt, falling to the floor in agony before jumping up a second later and going at KG.  For his efforts, KG was ejected from the game so this matchup could get personal for these two.  I'm expecting KG to have an extra chip on his shoulder and that he will be aggressive and play well.   

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Grant Hill
At last, Pierce is matched up with a player even older than him.  Pierce has shown signs of snapping out of his slump and with the trade talks swirling, I expect the Captain to do whatever it takes to help his team win. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - This is the key to every win this season and to a championship as well.   If they try to play defense in spurts in this game they will probably lose because the Suns can put points up in a hurry if they let down their guard.  The Celtics need to especially guard the perimeter as the Suns are a dangerous 3 point shooting team. 
Ball Movement -  The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man in order to stretch the Suns weak defenses.  They also need to try to get the ball into the paint and not just settle for jumpers.  If they get the ball into the post they will be able to score, draw the foul or kick out for an open jumper. 

Crash the Boards
- The Celtics must make an effort to grab rebounds, especially on the offensive end, in this game.   By grabbing offensive rebounds it will prevent the Suns from getting out on the break.     Rebounding is mostly desire and effort and the team that wants it most will win the rebounding battle.  The Celtics made a big improvement in their rebounding in the Raptors' game and they need to continue that effort on the boards in this one.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics must play hard for 48 minutes.   They can't let up if they get a lead and they can't come out flat and play catch up the rest of the game.  The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team and attack from start to finish.   They did a good job of doing this in their last game and need to especially concentrate on a strong start again in this game. 

Limit Turnovers - The Celtics must take better care of the ball. It seems that they go through spurts of being careless and making bad passes and losing focus and turning the ball over.  They have to keep their focus and not give the other team easy points off of turnovers. 
Official Report
Greg Willard
Willard has officiated over 1,100+ regular season games and 75+ play-off games. Willard also officiated the 1992 Japanese Opening Games in Yokohama. Before working for the NBA he accumulated 4 years of CBA officiating experience, 7 years in college level and 22 years in high school level in California. He called a technical on Yao Ming in a game in 2007 for saying "ahhhh" after a dunk. He is known for being wildly inconsistent in calling charges and blocks. Willard called the second of the Wizards games that the Celtics won earlier this season. The Celtics were called for 23 fouls in that game compared to 17 for the Wizards. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games with Willard while the Suns are 2-8 in their last 10. He isn't a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 6-5.

Brent Barnaky
Barnaky enters his second NBA season having officiated 60
NBA games. Barnaky came to the NBA with 10 years of collegiate officiating experience, including three years of N.I.T. Tournament play. He officiated the 2008,
2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Playoffs, and the 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Finals. He entered the NBA last season as one of five refs chosen from the D-League to officiate a handful of games the previous season. Barnaky also has spent time training and developing other officials at referee camps. He has only officiated 3 games for the Celtics previously, 2 wins and one loss. He has called 5 Suns games, 2 wins and 3 losses. His home W/L record this season is 4-4.

James Williams
Williams enters his second NBA season having officiated 61 games and officiated six NBA regular season games in 2009-10 as a non-staff official. Williams owns 10 years of experience in the collegiate ranks, having officiated for the NCAA from 2001-
2010. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, and has worked two NBA D-League Finals as well as the 2009-10 NBA D-League All-Star Game. Williams officiated the first of the two wins against the Wizards this season in which both teams shot 23 free throws. The Celtics are 4-1 all time with Williams and the Suns are 1-2 in their 3 games with him. His W/L record this season is 6-5

Focus  and Rondo
The Celtics must keep their focus and try to put it all together in order to get their second straight win.  Obviously this will be a lot easier if Rondo plays and his status will be a game time decision.  It sounds as though he's going to give it a try.    But even if he doesn't, this team should have enough talent to win this game if they keep their focus on the important things:  rebounding, taking care of the ball, and defense.  .   

And as an extra treat, here is Channing Frye's mother talking about the "Dirty Kevin Garnett." -Hat Tip Bright Side of the Sun