Celtics look to start a new win streak in Toronto

Boston Celtics (14-11) at Toronto Raptors (8-19)
Friday, February 10
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #26 – Road Game #9
Radio:  WEEI, CJCL 
Air Canada Centre
Referees:   Bill Kennedy,  JT Orr, Violet Palmer 

The Celtics are coming off a tough OT loss to the Lakers and with travel and back to back, this could be a tough one for them, even though they have already beaten the Raptors 4 times this season - two in preseason and two in regular season. All but one of the games were played in Boston. 

The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 and after winning 5 in a row, they lost their last game.  The Raptors are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have lost their last 3.  The Celtics are 3-6 at home while the Celtics are 4-4 on the road.   The Celtics have won their last 3 games on the road, while the Raptors have lost 5 of their last 6 games at home.  

Both teams are dealing with unexpected injuries.   One of Toronto's key players, Jerryd Bayless, left their game on Wednesday with an ankle injury and didn't participate in their Thursday practice.  He is considered a game time decision.  Avery Bradley missed last night's game for the Celtics with a sore shoulder and is questionable for tonight for the Celtics.  Bradley was key in the Celtics last game with Rondo still out.  Sasha Pavlovic is also questionable with a sore wrist. 

This should be an easy game for the Celtics but with playing overtime last night and overnight travel,  they are going to have to put out the effort, which hopefully they will give, after a poor effort last night.  .  The game isn't going to win itself, in spite of the Raptors' poor record. 

Probable Starters
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG:  Ray Allen 
SF:  Paul Pierce
PF:  Kevin Garnett
C:   Jermaine O'Neal

Celtics Reserves
Brandon Bass
E'twaun Moore
Greg Stiemsma
JaJuan Johnson
Marquis Daniels
Mickael Pietrus

Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day
Avery Bradley (shoulder)  day to day
Sasha Pavlovic (wrist)  day to day

Probable Starters
PG:  Jose Calderon 
SG: Jerryd Bayless
SF: DeMar DeRozan
PF: James Johnson
C:   Amir Johnson

Raptors Bench
Ed Davis 
Jamaal Magloire
Gary Forbes
Anthony Carter
Solomon Alabi
Rasual Butler 
Linas Kleiza
Aaron Gray
Leandro Barbosa

Andrea Bargnani  (calf)  out
Jerryd Bayless (ankle) game time decision

Key Matchups
Ray Allen vs Jerryd Bayless
Bayless gives up a couple inches to Ray, but he has the speed to stay with Ray as he runs through screens trying to get open.  Ray has been shooting the ball well and if Bayless leaves him open, hopefully Ray can make him pay.   Of course, if Bayless is out, things may be a little easier for Ray. 

Paul Pierce vs DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan has been one of the bright spots for the Raptors but has gone through a slump this season at times.  Pierce should be able to get the best of this matchup, even if DeRozan is out of his slump.   

Honorable Mention
With the Celtics playing back to back, their bench will be important in this game.  If the Celtics can get good contributions from their bench they should be able to get a win in this game. 

Keys to the Game
Rebound -  The Celtics have got to crash the boards to prevent second chance points.  Rebounding takes effort and when they aren't winning the battle of the boards, they aren't putting the effort out in other areas either.  They were out rebounded by the Lakers and allowed about half of the Lakers points on tip-ins and put backs.  They have to do a better job on the boards.  Hopefully Doc has made them watch video of how to box out all the way on the plane. 

Focus - The Celtics tend to lose focus and take some teams for granted, and play down to their level as they recently did with the Cavs.    They have to keep their focus and play their game whether they are playing the Lakers or the Cavs or the Raptors.  Of course, they didn't appear to be particularly focused against the Lakers, either. 

Defense -  The Celtics must make defense their first priority in each and every game.  They have once again found their defensive identity and their win streak is a result of that.  They need to play tough defense and lock down the Raptors, just as they did when they played them in Boston.    

Take Care of the Ball - Turnovers have been a problem for the Celtics at times.  They tend to lose their focus and make bad passes and take their eyes off the defenders at times.  They have to limit their turnovers and take care of the basketball. 

Ball Movement- The Celtics ball movement was almost non-existent against the Lakers, especially in the second half.  Too many possessions came down to a Rondo desperation jumper at the buzzer.  They were all trying to do too much and the ball wasn't moving and the players weren't moving without the ball.  They have to move the ball and find the open man.  Hero ball never works. 

Be Aggressive - The Celtics played very passively against the Lakers.  They didn't drive to the hoop and settled for too many jumpers.  They also didn't hustle for loose balls and hustle for rebounds.  They allowed the Lakers to out hustle them all game, especially in the second half.  They have to be more aggressive, even against the Raptors, especially on the road. 

Official Report

Bill Kennedy
Home team fouls called: 19.3
Road team fouls called: 19.1
Kennedy’s 13 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 814 regular season and 42 playoff games including 3 Finals games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has 5 years officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated 2 games in the WNBA Finals in 1998,
and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs and certainly, Kennedy hasn't forgotten. Here is how Doc described the incident:
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. Go figure. According to Tim Donaghy, Bill Kennedy is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. The Celtics are 1-0 with Kennedy this season. The win was at Indiana where the Pacers shot 31 free throws to 14 for the Celtics. When the Pacers were down 7, Kennedy called a bogus flagrant foul on Pietrus that gave the Pacers 2 shots and the ball.And if that wasn't enough they called another technical on Pietrus for taunting on that same play. In a 7 point game with 34 seconds to go, they handed the Pacers 5 points. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Kennedy on the court. The Raptors are 0-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Kennedy. His home W/L record this season is 15-5.

J.T. Orr
Home team fouls called: 19.1
Road team fouls called: 19.3
J.T. Orr is one of four new officials for the 2011-12 NBA season. Orr’s experience includes five seasons and 177 games officiated in the D-League. He also has four seasons of NBA preseason experience and worked in NBA summer camps for nine years.
In addition to his professional experience, Orr officiated collegiate games for 11 years and has 15 years of high school officiating experience. This is his very first game for the Celtics and the Raptors are 1-1 with Orr. His home W/L record is 9-9.

Violet Palmer
Home team fouls called: 20.2
Road team fouls called: 20.4
Violet Palmer, one of the first two female officials in the NBA, has officiated 757 regular season games and has appeared in eight playoff games over the past 14 seasons. 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 as well as five NCAA Final Fours and two NCAA Championship games. Before becoming an official, Palmer was a successful basketball player both at the collegiate and
high school levels. She was a four-year letter winner at Cal. Poly Pomona, where her team won the NCAA Division II Finals in 1985 and 1986. In addition, she was on the basketball team at Compton High School. Palmer also acts as a coordinator for both the West Coast Conference and the Pac-10 Conference. 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 great ref. Although, after getting a hug from Pierce after he ran into her in a win over the Pacers last season, the Celtics took 20 more free throws than the Pacers. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Violet on the court. The game this season, a win over the Wizards, the Celtics took 30 free throws to 21 for the Wizards. The Raptors are also 1-0 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 with Violet. Her home W/L record this season is 7-12. She is one of very few refs whose home W/L record favors the road team.

Back to Back and the Road
The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games after an emotional game versus the Lakers the night before.  Plus, they had to travel to Toronto and go through customs and all that stuff.  While the Celtics have won their last 3 games on the road, the combination of an OT game the night before and having to travel afterwards make this a tough situation for them. This is where they show what they are made of when the schedule gets rough and they have to win on the road.