Rondo-less Celtics take on Wall and the Wizards

Boston Celtics (5-9) at Wizards (2-13)
Sunday, January 22
1:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #15,  Road Game #6
TV:  CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-TV, 
Radio:  WEEI,  KTAR
Verizon Center  
Referees:  Joey Crawford,  Kevin Fehr,  Violet Palmer 
This is the 3rd meeting between these two teams this season.  The Celtics have already won a home and home series earlier this season.   Both teams are coming off a loss and the Celtics only have 3 more wins than the struggling Wizards, who where the last team to record a win this season. 

Rondo averaged 13.5 assists as Boston posted a pair of eight-point victories in the previous 2 games with Washington Jan 1 and 2. The Celtics' lone road victory in five tries was their 94-86 win at the Verizon Center to open that set as Rondo had a triple-double. They will have to win this game without Rondo as word from Doc is that Rondo will sit this one out and Bradley is expected to get the start once again.    Not having Rondo can't be an excuse.   Chicago is winning without Rose, Noah, Gibson and Lucas. 

The Celtics have yet to beat a contending team but they absolutely must beat these struggling teams until they can get it together to beat the top teams as well.   The Celtics need a win in this game, with or without Rondo at the point.    Ray Allen said that they aren't losers.  They need to start proving it on the court. 

Probable Starters
Avery Bradley ...Ray Allen...Paul Pierce...Kevin Garnett... Jermaine O'Neal

Boston Bench Mob
Brandon Bass
Sasha Pavlovic
JaJuan Johnson
E'Twaun Moore
Marquis Daniels
Greg Steimsma
Mickael Pietrus

Chris Wilcox (calf)  day to day
Keyon Dooling (knee)  day to day
Rajon Rondo (wrist)  out

Probable Starters
John Wall...Nick Young....Chris Singleton...Andary Blatche...JaVale McGee

Wizards Bench

Tevor Booker
Jordan Crawford
Shelvin Mack
Roger Mason
Hamedy Ndiaye
Kevin Seraphin
Rashard Lewis
Maurice Evans
Jan Vesely

Ronny Turiaf (hand)  out

Key Matchups
 Avery Bradley vs John Wall
 The point guard position is important for every team but is proving even more important for the Celtics.  Wall is a young and exciting point guard, and Bradley must play him tough and set the pace of the game for the Celtics to win.   He must run the team with confidence and hit his shots when he is open. 

Jermaine O'Neal vs Javale McGee
Jermaine O'Neal was absolutely abused by Marcin Gortat in the last game. He made a big point of saying that defense and rebounding are his role on the team and he did neither against the Suns.  He must give the team more of a presence in the paint. 

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.  By being aggressive going to the basket, it could help to jump start their offense that has been very anemic.   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 they should beat.

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. It seems that they go on a run and then blow it with 4 or 5 turnovers in a row.  They have to take better care of the ball. 

Official Report
Joey Crawford
Crawford has been officiating games since 1977 and has officiated more play-off games (278) and NBA Finals Games (46) than any other active referee. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many other refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. And in the Suns 2010 first round against the Blazers, Crawford made what was possibly the worst call of all time when he called Marcus Camby for a foul and put Steve Nash on the line. Camby was nowhere near Nash at the time. But it put Camby into foul trouble and put one of the best free throw shooters in the game on the line. Crawford officiated the Christmas day loss to the Knicks. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Crawford. The Wizards are 3-7 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 6-5.

Kevin Fehr
Fehr has officiated over 630+ regular season games. Before becoming an official, Kevin Fehr’s athletic ability landed him in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization in 1981 and 1982. After his baseball career ended he took up officiating and is now in his 17th NBA season with 949 regular season games of experience. Fehr spent five years officiating in the CBA and also has seven years of collegiate officiating experience. He officiated the SEC and OVC Tournaments. Fehr has high school officiating experience in Alabama, where he worked the State Tournament in 1988 and 1989. Fehr was also a member of the crews that officiated 2003 NBA All-Star Saturday and the 1999 Mexico Challenge. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with him. The Wizards are 5-5 with Fehr on the court. His home W/L record this season is 8-2.

Violet Palmer
Violet Palmer is the only woman officiating in the NBA. She has been there for 14 seasons already. Before joining the NBA, Palmer officiated in the WNBA during the league’s inaugural season, including the 1997 WNBA Championship. She has two years of CBA officiating experience and nine years of collegiate officiating experience including five NCAA Final Fours and two NCAA Championship games. At one time Violet was the worst ref in the league. In one game Cedric Maxwell was moved to urge her to go back into the kitchen because her calls were so bad. She has had Tommy close to exploding many times as well. She's improved a lot over the years and is no longer the worst ref in the league (that honor goes to Bennett Salvatore) but she's still not a good ref. Although, after getting a hug from Pierce after he ran into her in win over the Pacers last season, the Celtics took 20 more free throws than the Pacers. The Celtics are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Violet on the court. The Wizards are 3-7 over their last 10 with Violet. Her home W/L record this season is 4-7.

Offense and Officiating
The Celtics should beat this team, even without Rajon Rondo.  They have to find their focus to hit their shots and run the offense.  There is no explanation as to why they haven't  been able to hit open shots, and that includes layups.  It seems that they lead the league in missed layups.   Whether it is focus, conditioning or whatever,  they simply have to get their offense working.   Also the Celtics will have 2 very frustrating referees today in Joey Crawford and Violet Palmer.  They can't let bad calls take them out of the game.