Celtics continue road trip with a visit to the Champs

Boston Celtics (15-15) at Dallas Mavericks (20-12)
Monday, February 20
8:00 PM ET
Game #31  Road Game #11
American Airlines Arena
Referees:  Ed Malloy, Rodney Mott,  Scott Wall 

This is the second and final meeting between the Celtics and the reigning Champs.  In the first meeting Dirk took over the 4th quarter and the Mavs won 90-85.  Jason Terry was huge off the bench with 18 points and 4 steals.  Rondo had a big game for the Celtics with 24 points 7 assists and 3 steals.  Delonte started that game at point as Kidd was out.  In this game, Delonte will be out. 

At the time of this posting, the Celtics may or may not be without KG, who missed the Pistons' game and may miss this one as well for personal family reasons.  They may also be without Rajon Rondo, who was ejected from the Pistons' game for throwing the ball at the ref and may be suspended for this one.  This will be a tough game and will be much tougher if either of them miss the game. 

Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games and both teams had to travel.   The Mavs are coming off a loss in New York while the Celtics lost in Detroit.   The Mavs had won 6 in a row before falling victim to Linsanity in New York.  The Celtics are on a 3 game skid, which could very well reach 4 games if the Celtics can't find a way to get back on track.  That becomes all the tougher if they have to play without KG or Rondo.  I'm hoping that no news is good news and the fact that they haven't announced a suspension for Rondo means there won't be one. 

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Avery Bradley vs Jason Kidd

Shooting Guard

Ray Allen vs Vince Carter

Small Forward

Paul Pierce vs Shawn Marion

Power Forward
Chris Wilcox  vs Dirk Nowitski 


Jermaine O'Neal vs Brendan Haywood 

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

Brandon Bass (knee) out
Kevin Garnett (family reasons) questionable
Rajon Rondo (temper reasons)  questionable 

Dallas Reserves
Rodrigue Beaubois
Brian Cardinal
Yi Jianlian
Dominique Jones
Ian Mahinmi
Lamar Odom
Jason Terry
Brandan Wright
Sean Williams 

Delonte West (finger)  out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo  vs Jason Kidd
Kidd may be getting older but he's still a tough matchup. What he may have lost in speed he has gained in craftiness. I'm really hoping that Rondo can go because he should be able to get the better of this matchup. 

Chris Wilcox vs Dirk Nowitski 
Dirk vs KG is a very tough matchup.  Dirk vs Chris Wilcox may be an impossible matchup. 

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Vince Carter
 Vince Carter has never been known for his defense and even less for fighting through screens on defense.    Ray has struggled in recent games and hopefully Ray will get hot in this game and put up some big numbers. 

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Rebounding is so crucial to getting a win.  When the Celtics put out the effort to grab rebounds, more often than not, they are going to get the win.  The Celtics haven't been putting out much effort on the boards and have been getting out rebounded and consequently losing their games. Once again, they were out-rebounded by Detroit and once again, they lost the game.     The Celtics have to give a better effort on the boards if they want to win this one. 

Defense - Defense is always crucial to getting a win.  Defense wins games is not just a cliche, it is the truth.  The Celtics must play tough team defense in this and every game.  Against the Mavs, defense is especially crucial because they can put points on the board very quickly. They especially have to guard the perimeter because the Mavs can catch fire from beyond the arc if left open. 

Move the Ball  - The Celtics ball movement has been terrible lately.  They have to get back to making good passes and moving the ball to find the open man.  When they dribble too much and don't trust each other on offense, it gets stagnant and they struggle to score for long periods.  We saw some nice ball movement in spurts against the Pistons but then they would stop moving the ball and resort to contested jumpers again. 

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have been playing too passively.  They have to be more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket and not settle for jumpers.  They also have to be more aggressive in going after loose balls and in going after rebounds.   The Celtics played very passively against the Pistons for much of the game.  They must somehow find their toughness again and be more aggressive. 

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics turned the ball over 22 times vs the Pistons.  That is just unacceptable.  The Pistons scored 40 points off those 22 turnovers.  You can't win when you give the opponent that many extra points.  The Celtics must take better care of the basketball.   

Official Report

Ed Malloy
Malloy has officiated 577 regular season NBA games and 22 playoff games over the past nine seasons. He officiated his first two Finals games during the 2010-11 season. Prior to joining the NBA, Malloy officiated for one season in the
NBA D-League, three seasons in the CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. He worked the 2002 DLeague Finals and the 2001 CBA Finals. In 2003, when Doc was with Orlando, Malloy called a technical foul on Andrew DeClercq for staring. Doc called it one of the worst calls he ever saw (boy has he seen a lot worse since then!)and he said that he felt that Malloy had been intimidated all night. Fast forward to the Celtics game in Utah last season when Malloy, no longer intimidated, called 2 quick technicals on Doc and ejected him. Here is Doc's version of those calls.
“I just told Ed [Malloy], please keep officiating the game,” said Rivers. “That’s all I said. I thought the play before [the technical] was a clear travel in front of him. So I just said, ‘Hey Ed, it’d be nice if you’d keep officiating throughout.’ He gave me a tech. Then I said, ‘That’s the best call you’ve made all night.’ Usually, it’s nice to earn them, but [Monday's technicals were] another bad call.”
Malloy was also on the crew that officiated game 1 of the Miami series in the 2010 playoffs where 5 technicals were called and Kevin Garnett was ejected. This is the Celtics first game with Malloy this season, and they are 8-2 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The Mavs are are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Malloy as a ref. His home W/L record is 14-10.

Rodney Mott
Rodney Mott has officiated 870 regular season games and seven playoff
games during his 14-season NBA career. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Mott spent four years officiating in the CBA, eight years officiating in the Los Angeles Pro Am basketball league, threebyears officiating at the junior college level, and four years officiating high school in San Diego. In 2007, Mott was suspended without pay for 3 games for making an obscene gesture and inappropriate comment toward a fan. Mott challenged the charges and said that they used him as a scapegoat to take attention away from other issues, but the suspension stood. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Mott. The Mavs are also 7-3 with Mott in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 15-9.

Scott Wall
The son of former USA Basketball Director Bill Wall, Scott Wall has officiated
908 regular season games and five playoff games over his past 16 NBA seasons. In addition to his NBA experience, Wall has four years of officiating experience for
USA Basketball, four years of collegiate officiating experience in the college ranks, and five years of high school officiating experience in Kansas
and Alabama. The Celtics are 0-1 this season with Wall on the court. He officiated a 1 point loss to Cleveland in which the Celtics took 14 free throws to 20 for the Cavs. The officiating was poor in this game and the refs ignored an obvious foul committed against Paul Pierce at the end of the game. Over their last 10 games with Wall, the Celtics are 5-5. The Mavs are 0-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Wall. His home W/L record this season is 12-8.

Focus, Fatigue, and Personnel 
The Celtics have had lapses in focus in recent games.  They need to especially focus on the road.  Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games and the team that manages their minutes the best will have the advantage.   A good deal could depend on whether KG and Rondo can suit up for the team.  Without them, this game becomes very, very tough.