Celtics Look to Avenge Embarrassing Loss to the Pacers

Boston Celtics (4-6) at Indiana Pacers (8-2)
Saturday, January 14
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #11, Road Game #5
TV: CSNNE, FSI, NBA-LP 755/756
Conseco Field House
Referees:   Tom Washington, Derrick Collins, Mark Lindsay 

This is the second meeting between these two teams this season.  In their first meeting, the Celtics were embarrassed by the Pacers 87-74.  The Celtics started out slowly and never seemed to get going in that game.

It was an ugly game from start to finish.  Neither team played well on offense.  The Celtics scored only 25 points in the first half and trailed by 8 points going into the 3rd quarter.   The Celtics were out-rebounded 47-36 and were outscored in the paint 43-28. 

Doc tried to shake it up a bit in the last game by starting KG at center and Brandon Bass at the 4 but that didn't seem to work out very well but Doc has also said that Bass will start about 70% of the time and is listed in the starting lineup for this game as well.    Right now, nothing seems to be working, so why not try some changes. Maybe Doc should sit all the starters and see if the second unit can get off to a better start. 

Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games.  The Pacers are coming off a win in Toronto while the Celtics are coming off a loss to the Bulls.  It was the Celtics 3rd straight loss.  Hopefully the Celtics can get it together and pull off a win in this one.  They very much need a win against a quality team to boost their confidence and with the Thunder coming to town on Monday, this is a very good time to get it. 

Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo  vs  Darren Collison  

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen   vs  Paul George  

Small Forward
Paul Pierce  vs  Danny Granger  

Power Forward
Brandon Bass  vs  David West

Kevin Garnett  vs  Roy Hibbert  

Celtics Reserves
Jermaine O'Neal
Marquis Daniels
Chris Wilcox
E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson
Avery Bradley
Sasha Pavlovic
Greg Stiemsma
Mickael Pietrus

Keyon Dooling  (knee)  out
Kevin Garnett (ankle) will play

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

George Hill (back) day to day

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 been struggling and is averaging 13.8 points on 38% shooting.  He has to snap out of it for the Celtics to snap out of their skid.  He said recently that he is still not 100% from the heel injury that sidelined him in training camp.   Hopefully he can get his shot back soon as the Celtics very much need the Captain to be 100%. 

Rajon Rondo vs Darren Collison
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.    When Rondo is aggressive, he makes the Celtics go.  Rondo should have a height and experience advantage over Collison and hopefully that will translate into a big game for him.  He has virtually been carrying the team of late but he can't do it by himself.   If the Celtics aren't careful, Rondo will burn himself out trying to carry the team while the rest of the team is still getting back into shape. 

Honorable Mention
There has been a lot of talk about how KG has lost a step and just can't cut it on defense any more. We have seen flashes of the old KG from time to time, but he hasn't been anywhere near consistent.   Jermaine O'Neal  has been playing very poorly and Doc is trying to shake up the front line.  Maybe Doc should try starting Wilcox and Stiemsma.   The Celtics bigs have been largely ineffective against the better teams and they have to find a way to fix that, whether it's to motivate KG and JO or to swap them out with players who will be motivated. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics defense has been up and down and they have clamped down in spurts.  The Celtics need to work harder on team defense.   When they won the title, defense was their identity.  They need to get back to that.

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.   Much of rebounding is desire and hard work and the Celtics just haven't had it. They were out- rebounded by double figures in their last two games and that has to change for them to start winning.

Offense -  There have been times when the Celtics' ball movement is a joy to behold and others when they make sloppy passes and just can't seem to get anything going.  They have to continue to move the ball and find the open man.   They also have to hit their shots.  Scoring 25 points in a half just won't win games.

Start Strong
-  The Celtics have been coming out flat and end up in a huge hole at the half.  They always seem to make a run in the 3rd quarter but it seems to take a lot out of them and they run out of steam and fall just short at the end.  They have to come out and play with energy from the beginning.  Averaging 15 points in the first quarter is inexcusable.

Official Report
Tom Washington
Washington has officiated over 900+ regular season games and 60+ play-off games. The Celtics are 9-1 over their last 10 games with Washington calling the game. At least 2 of the games were poorly officiated. In one of those games against the Hornets, the officiating was very bad and Washington ignored the Hornets attempts to intentionally foul both Pierce and Allen at the end of the game even though he was staring right at the play. The Pacers are 5-5 in their last 10 with Washington as a ref. His home W/L record this season is 4-4.

Derrick Collins
Collins has been an official in the league for 10 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 6-4 in their last 10 games with Collins. The Pacers are also 6-4 in their last 10 games with Collins. His home W/L record this season is 6-4.

Mark Lindsay
Mark Lindsay made his debut in the NBA in 2007 after spending time in the NBDL. Before the NBDL, Lindsay spent 9 years calling games at the college level. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Linday making the calls and the Pacers are also 5-5 in their last 10 with Lindsay. Lindsay appears to be a homer ref as his home W/L record this season is 7-1.

Revenge and Back to Back
The Celtics need to be looking to avenge their embarrassing loss earlier this season.  Both teams are playing in back to back games but the Pacers are a younger team and it could affect them less than it does the Celtics.  The Celtics looked tired playing after 4 days rest.  Back to back games might make for some more ugly basketball.  However, I suspect that the Celtics problems have more to do with timing and conditioning than they do with age.