Celtics Host Pacers Looking for 4th Straight Win

Indiana Pacers (12-5) at Boston Celtics (8-9)
Friday, January 27
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #18, Home Game #11
TV:  CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 752/753
Radio:  WEEI,  WIBC
TD Garden
Referees:  Bill Kennedy,  Olandis Poole,  Gary Zielinski 
This is the 3rd meeting between these two teams.  The Celtics were soundly beaten in both of their previous meetings, once in Indiana and once in Boston.   This time, hopefully the outcome will be different. The Celtics are on a 3 game win streak, having beaten the Magic in dramatic fashion twice in a row, despite missing key players.   I have to admit that at this time, I have no idea who will be playing and who won't.  So, in line with my wishful thinking,  I've included Ray, Rondo and JO in the starting lineups.  However,  we could see another game with Bradley, Bass and Pietrus, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I'm going to make a wild guess that Ray will be back but Rondo won't and I have no clue about JO.  

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games.  The Pacers had the night before off but they are playing in the 3rd game in 4 nights. The Celtics expended a lot of energy in their comeback win over the Magic last night.  Paul Pierce played a season high 44 minutes.  KG played 34.  It would be great if a rested Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo return for this game. 

The Celtics got Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox, and Mickael Pietrus back from the injured list for last night's game.   However, Dooling left last night's game with a hip pointer.  He was out on the court shooting after the half but the trainers kept him from returning to the game.  Not sure if he'll play tonight.    Rondo wanted to play vs the Magic so it's possible he could come back for this one. He said that his wrist is about 45% so that could mean that he will be out a while yet.     If  he still can't go, both Avery and E'Twaun have played well in his absence.  There hasn't been any news on Jermaine's knee so he could be playing or he could be sitting.  Pietrus also took a hard fall onto his tailbone last night.  He came back to play afterwards but who knows if that tightened up on him overnight. 

After last night, it's safe to say that the Celtics will play with heart,  but whether they have the strength and stamina to back up that heart,  it's may not be so easy after expending so much energy on their come back win last night. When and if we get an update on who's in and who's out I'll update the thread.  You know, it it's hard for us to do a game thread not knowing who's playing, imagine how hard it is for opposing coaches to make a game plan. 

Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo  vs  Darren Collison   

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen   vs  Paul George 

Small Forward
Paul Pierce  vs  Danny Granger   

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett  vs  David West

Jermaine O'Neal  vs  Roy Hibbert   

Celtics Reserves
Brandon Bass
Marquis Daniels
Chris Wilcox
Keyon Dooling
E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson
Avery Bradley
Sasha Pavlovic 
Greg Stiemsma
Mickael Pietrus

Ray Allen (ankle) day to day
Rajon Rondo (wrist)  day to day
Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day
Jermaine O'Neal  (knee)  day to day 

Pacers Reserves
Tyler Hansbrough
George Hill
Louis Amundson
Dahntay Jones
Jeff Foster
Jeff Pendergraph
Lance Stephenson

AJ Price (strep throat) day to day
Jeff Foster (back) out 

Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Danny Granger
Danny Granger is a tough player who can hit from outside as well as take the ball to the basket. He always seems to play extra hard against the Celtics.  Paul Pierce has found his stroke and his conditioning is back and so this should be a really good matchup. 

Rajon Rondo vs Darren Collison
Hopefully Rondo will be back for this game and if he is, he needs to re-establish himself as a force to be reckoned with.  Bradley filled in very well for him and Rondo's competitive nature will bring out the best in him.     When Rondo is aggressive, he makes the Celtics very tough to beat.  If Rondo can't go, Bradley needs to keep up his aggressive defensive play. 

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs David West
KG has shown in recent games, most notably the Magic games, that he's still got the old defensive spark.  He will need to bring find that spark again to give the Celtics the advantage in this game.  Whether he can go strong 2 nights in a row remains to be seen. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics defense had been up and down but  they have clamped down in both of their last 2 games vs the Magic.  They showed that they are  capable of playing solid defense for 48 minutes when they beat the Magic in the first game.  And they came back from 27 points down in the second Magic game by once again playing tight lock down defense.  They need to bring that same defensive intensity in this one. 

Rebound -  Winning the rebounding battle prevents second chance points  and tip ins for the Pacers as well as limits fast break opportunities.   Without a lot of height, the Celtics must gang rebound with everyone putting out effort to grab rebounds.   When the Celtics put out the effort on the boards, it often translates to other areas of the game as well. 

Ball Movement -  There have been times when the Celtics' ball movement is a joy to behold.  They have to continue to move the ball and find the open man.   They can't lapse into playing one on one and playing hero ball and expect to win the game.  They also can't get sloppy and turn the ball over.

Hustle and Energy
-  The Celtics need to bring some hustle and effort to the game.  They have to go after loose balls and chase down rebounds.  Too many times we see Celtics standing around while the other team dives for loose balls and chases down rebounds.   Hopefully they didn't put out too much effort to come back last night and they will be able to get off to a fast start and hustle through the end. 

Official Report

Bill Kennedy
Kennedy’s 13 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 814 regular season and 42 playoff games including 3 Finals games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has 5 years officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated 2 games in the WNBA Finals in 1998,
and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs and certainly, Kennedy hasn't forgotten. Here is how Doc described the incident:
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. Go figure. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. Both teams are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Kennedy on the court. His home W/L record this season is 11-4.

Olandis Poole
After three seasons in the NBA Development League, where he worked the postseason each year, Poole joined the NBA officiating staff eight years ago and has officiated 421 games. Poole spent 12 years in the college ranks and officiated the NCAA Tournament from 1996 through 2004, including the 2004 NCAA Final Four. The Celtics 8-2 over their last 10 games with Poole as a ref. The Pacers are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Poole. His home W/L record this season is 7-7.

Gary Zielinski
Zielinski has officiated 616 regular season games and six Playoff games. In addition to his 10 seasons in the NBA, Zielinski officiated for seven seasons in the CBA and four in the WNBA. He worked the CBA Finals from 1997-2000, the CBA All-Star Game in 1995 and the WNBA Finals from 1998-2001. The Celtics are 9-1 in their last 10 games with Zielinski on the court while the Pacers are 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 7-5.

Back to Back
In their last back to back set, the Celtics demolished the Magic in the second game.  They showed that they are capable of winning on back to back nights.  Will they have enough energy in this one after battling the Magic the night before and then traveling?  We shall see.