Celtics Looking for First Road Win as They Take on the Winless Wizards

Boston Celtics (1-3) at Wizards (0-3)
Sunday, January 1
6:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #5,  Road Game #4
TV:  CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-TV,  NBAC
Radio:  WEEI,  WJFK
Verizon Center  
Referees:    Bill Spooner, Eric Dalen, James Williams

The Celtics are back on the road after winning their home opener and hopefully they can keep their winning ways going against the Wizards who are still looking for their first win.  

This is the first of 4 meetings in this shortened season between these two teams.  This is the first of a home and home set and the Wizards will play the Celtics in Boston on Monday night.    Last season these two teams split the series 2-2.

The Celtics haven't been the best defensive team this season so far, but like Pistons, the Wizards may be just what they need to get their defense on track.  The Wizards have shot just 38.6% from the field in their 3 losses this season.   They have also been allowing 48.7% shooting from their opponents.

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo...Ray Allen...Paul Pierce...Kevin Garnett... Jermaine O'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Brandon Bass
Sasha Pavlovic
JaJuan Johnson
E'Twaun Moore
Marquis Daniels
Keyon Dooling
Avery Bradley
Greg Steimsma

Chris Wilcox (shoulder)  day to day
Mickael Pietrus (knee)  out

Probable Starters
John Wall...Nick Young....Rashard Lewis...Andary Blatche...JaVale McGee

Wizards Bench

Tevor Booker
Jordan Crawford
Shelvin Mack
Roger Mason
Hamedy Ndiaye
Kevin Seraphin
Chris Singleton
Ronny Turiaf

Jan Vesely (hip) day to day
Maurice Evans (knee)  day to day

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs John Wall
 As Rondo goes so go the Celtics.  Wall is a young and exciting point guard, but Rondo has to set the pace and be aggressive against him.

Jermaine O'Neal vs Javale McGee
Jermaine O'Neal finally came alive in the Celtics' home opener.  After 3 very bad games,  he broke out against the Pistons.  Hopefully he will continue playing well and step up and be a force on both ends of the court in this game.  

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Andray Blatche
Kevin Garnett may have lost a step over the years, but he still has enough to get the better of Andray Blatche.  The Celtics will need aggressive play from KG on the offensive end as well as on defense.

Keys to the Game
Rebound  The Celtics must crash the boards and keep the Wizards from getting second chance points, fast break opportunities and extra possessions.   As I have said before, when the Celtics put out the effort necessary to win the battle of the boards, that effort seems to pick up every area of their game as well.  

Defense    Defense always wins games.  The Celtics have to make defense their priority and shut down the paint as well as staying on their outside shooters. In their first 4 games, the Celtics have played defense in spurts but they have allowed way too many easy baskets.   When the Celtics clamp down on defense the rest of their game picks up.

Be Aggressive  The Celtics need to play aggressively.  They need to take the ball to the hoop and try to get to the line early and often.   Make the officials call the fouls.  They also have to go for every loose ball and battle for all the rebounds.   If they play passively, they could be facing another loss to a team that is hungry for their first win.    

Limit Turnovers - The Celtics have turned the ball over too much in games so far.  The tend to make lazy passes and lose focus from time to time and give their opponents easy scoring opportunities because of it.  

Official Report 
Bill Spooner
Spooner has officiated over 1,000+ regular season games and 50+ play-off games. Spooner served as president of the high school referee association in 1982. Spooner is the ref who failed to call Kobe's elbow to the throat of Ron Artest a couple years back, even though he was the ref in position to call it. Artest's complaints resulted in his ejection but nothing was called on Kobe in the game. The league later admitted their error and assessed Kobe a flagrant 1 for the elbow. But that didn't help Houston who had to play without Artest the rest of the game. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Spooner while the Wizards are 5-5 in their last 10. Spooner's home W/L record this season is 1-1.

Eric Dalen
Dalen has been a referee in the NBA since 2008. He spent 4 years officiating college games and 5 years in the D-League before being called up to the NBA. I couldn't find much on the guy other than an article where Andrew Bynum was complaining about Dalen calling all 6 fouls on him in a game in 2008. He has only officiated 8 games for the Celtics since the 2008 season and the Celtics are 6-2 in those games. The Wizards are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Dalen. His home W/L record this season is 1-1.

James Williams
This is just Williams second season in the NBA. He was called up from the D-League last season. He has only officiated 3 Celtics games since joining the NBA and the Celtics are 2-1 in those games. He has only officiated one Wizards game previously and that was a win over Milwaukee last season. His home W/L record is 1-1.

Focus and Officiating
The Celtics will be on the road again and hopefully they won't let that change their focus.  They need to keep the same intensity and focus that they brought in front of their home crowd.   The officiating has been seriously bad in the Celtics first 4 games.  The Celtics can't let the bad calls and no calls get to them.  They have to just play through it.