Celtics Host Pacers With 4 Game Win Streak on the Line

Indiana Pacers (4-2) at Boston Celtics (4-3)
Friday, January 6
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #8, Home Game #4
TV:  CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 757/758
Radio:  WEEI,  WIBC
TD Garden

Referees:   Eddie F. Rush,  Bennie Adams, Tre Maddox 

The Celtics put their 4 game win streak on the line as they host the Indiana Pacers tonight.   The Celtics win streak may have more to do with their opponents than their improved play.   The 4 teams that they have beaten have a combined W/L record of 3 wins and 22 losses.  The Pacers will be the Celtics first opponent with a winning record  since their loss to the Heat in the second game of the season.    The Pacers' competition hasn't been much stiffer though as the teams they beat weren't exactly powerhouses.   Their wins have come against Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland and New Jersey. 

Things may have gotten a bit harder for the Celtics when the Heat demolished the Pacers 118-83 on Wednesday.   The Pacers should be hungry for a win and to prove that they can beat a team with a winning record.    Both  teams very much need a win over a quality team. 

Ray missed practice on Thursday and Doc has listed him as questionable for this game but since also said that Ray was feeling much better and the game notes list him in the starting lineup, I'm assuming he'll play.  If he doesn't play, expect Dooling to get the start once again. 

The Celtics can't afford to come out sluggish as they have in several games so far.  If they dig a hole against the Pacers, it won't be as easy to come back as it was against the Pistons or the Wizards.  Hopefully we will see an energized Celtics team that will defend their home court and finally boast a win over a team with a record over .500.

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 (knee)  out
Ray Allen (flu) probable

Pacers Reserves
Tyler Hansbrough
George Hill
Louis Amundson
Dahntay Jones
Jeff Foster
AJ Price
Jeff Pendergraph

Lance Stephenson (ankle) doubtful

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 is slowly getting his rhythm back after his heel injury and hopefully will take another step forward in this game. 

Rajon Rondo vs Darren Collison
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.    When Rondo is aggressive, he makes the Celtics very tough to beat.  Rondo should have a height and experience advantage over Collison and hopefully he will use both to his advantage.

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs David West
KG versus the one that got away.  West came close to joining the Celtics but signed with the Pacers after the sign and trade with New Orleans fell apart.  West is a tough player and I'm sure he will be looking to show the Celtics what they are missing.  It will be up to KG and Brandon Bass to show Celtics fans that they are all that this team needs.   

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics defense has been up and down and they have clamped down in spurts.  The Celtics have been playing poor shooting teams and now it's time to show that they can defend against a team that is above .500.  They need to work harder on defense than they did against the Nets, especially in the first half,  or this could get ugly. 

Rebound -  Winning the rebounding battle prevents second chance points  and tip ins for the Pacers as well as limits fast break opportunities.   When the Celtics put out the effort on the boards, it often translates to other areas of the game as well. 

Move the Ball -  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. 

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.   They must play hard for 48 minutes.  They can't come out sluggish as they have in several games and then have to dig out from a hole and they can't let up before the final buzzer. 

Official Report

Rush has officiated over 1,300+ regular season games, 140+ play-off games and 9 NBA Finals games. Prior to joining the NBA, Rush worked high school games before progressing to college and professional basketball leagues. Eddie F. Rush officiated the last game of the NBA Finals for five seasons in a row (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009). He was the least liked ref by Cavs fans when they still had LeBron because he was the only ref that called more losses for them than wins. He is also one of Tommy Heinsohn's least favorite refs and there are several rants on file of Tommy complaining about Rush's ineptness. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Rush on the court and the Pacers are 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 3-1.

Bennie Adams
This is Adams' 12th season in the NBA. Before he started in the NBA he had 3 years of college basketball officiating experience as well as 10 years of high school basketball experience in Louisiana. Adams tends to be inconsistent especially on charge/block calls. He is also another one of Tommy Heinsohn's least favorites. In one game, Tommy Heinsohn went ballistic yelling at the top of his lungs "GO BACK TO YOUR MOMMA BENNIE ADAMS!!!" The Celtics are 6-4 in the last 10 games called by Adams. The Pacers are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Adams. His Home W/L record this season is 4-2.

Tre Maddox
This is Maddox's first season as a ref in the NBA. For the past 5 seasons he has officiated at the College level. This is his first game for both the Celtics and the Pacers. His home W/L record this season is 4-0.

The Competition
For the first time since their win streak began,  the Celtics are facing a team above .500.  Can they lift their intensity to play a tough team that will be motivated to bounce back from a blowout loss at the hands of the Heat?