The few, the proud, the injured...C's take on the Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies (12-11) at Boston Celtics (12-10)
Sunday, February 5
12:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #23, Home Game #15
Radio:  WEEI, WMFS
TD Garden
Referees:  Ken Mauer,  Sir Allen Conner,  Mark Lindsay

The Celtics welcome old friend Tony Allen and his Grizzlies to the Garden. The Celtics have faced 4 Western Conference foes this season and have lost to all 4 of them.  They have lost to the Suns, Thunder, Mavs and Hornets.  The Grizzlies will be their first western opponent since seeming to find their groove after the return of their Captain.

These two teams split the series last season with each team winning on the other's court.  The Grizzlies the same number of wins as the Celtics but have one more loss.  The Grizzlies are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are coming off a Friday night loss to the Thunder.  The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won 3 games in a row, including a tough grind out victory against the Knicks in their last game.  The Celtics are 8-6 at home while the Grizz are 5-8 on the road.

The Grizzlies will be missing Zach Randolph, which is a break for the Celtics.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that they will still have Marc Gasol, who will be a very tough matchup for an ailing Jermaine O'Neal (or KG and Chris Wilcox , if JO can't go).   Tony Allen will be covering Ray Allen, which is sure to limit Ray's easy looks.  This is a game that the Celtics can win as long as they come out focused and play hard.  They also can't forget their defense and rebounding.

With the news this morning that Brandon Bass is doubtful for this game with some sort of knee injury,  this game gets even tougher.  Jermaine's status is still questionable and if he can't go Chris Wilcox will probably get the start if he can't go. 
Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard
Rajon Rondo 15.0 PPG, 5.10 RPG, 9.4 APG 1.7 SPG
Mike Conley 12.9 PPG,  2.6 RPG,  7.0 APG,  2.6 SPG

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen  14.9 PPG,  2.9 RPG,  2.9APG,  .564 3P%
Tony Allen   10.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG,  1.0 APG, .429 3P%

Small Forward

Paul Pierce  17.8 PPG,  5.4 RPG, 5.5 APG,  .433 FG%
Rudy Gay     18.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG,  .452 FG%

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett   13.1 PPG,  7.20 RPG,  2.8 APG,  1.1 BPG, 1.000 3P%
Marreese Speights   7.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG,  0.8 APG,  0.4 BPG


Jermaine O'Neal  5.9 PPG,  5.3 RPG,  0.5 APG,  1.4 BPG
Marc Gasol  15.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG,  2.8 APG,  2.3 BPG

Celtics Reserves
Brandon Bass
Chris Wilcox
Greg Stiemsma
Avery Bradley
E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson
Mickael Pietrus
Sasha Pavlovic

Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day
Marquis Daniels (ankle) doubtful
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  will play
Brandon Bass (knee) out
Paul Pierce (hip) probable

Grizzlies Reserves
Dante Cunningham
OJ Mayo
Hamed Pondexter
Josh Davis
Jeremy Pargo
Josh Selby
Sam Young

Darrell Arthur (Achilles)  out
Zach Randolph (knee)  out

Key Matchups  
Kevin Garnett vs Marreese Speights
Jermaine O'Neal vs Marc Gasol
The matchup between the Celtics bigs and the Grizzlies bigs will be key in determining the winner.  The Celtics get a break with the Grizzlies' regular starting power forward out.  Randolph is big and strong and gives every team problems, but would give the Celtics more problems because of how thin they are up front.  KG should have an advantage against Speights and hopefully he will exploit it.  JO had an MRI on his knee and is listed as a game time decision.  Gasol is a tough matchup and the Celtics will need a strong presence in the middle so hopefully Jermaine will be able to provide that.   If JO can't go, it will fall to Brandon Bass to man the middle next to KG.

Rajon Rondo vs Mike Conley
It was great to see Rondo back against the Knicks, but he was definitely rusty.  If you have any doubts, ask Mickael Pietrus whose head he almost took off with a pass.   As I've said many times, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.  Hopefully Rondo will shake off a bit more of the rust and play aggressively and have a strong game in this one.

Honorable Mention

Paul Pierce vs Rudy Gay
Pierce has played very well in recent games and the Celtics need that to continue for them to continue winning.  Gay is a great young player and Pierce will need to play him aggressively on the defensive end as well as make him work by being aggressive on the offensive end.  

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Rebounding is very important in limiting fast break points and second chance points for the Grizz.  The Grizzlies are very good at getting second chance points off of offensive rebounds and putbacks.    The Celtics must be aggressive in crashing the boards.  The team that wins the battle of the boards usually wins the game.  

Take Care of the Ball - The Grizzlies are among the best in the league in forced turnovers and steals and they are also very good at scoring off those turnovers.  The Celtics must take care of the ball and avoid careless passes and lapses in focus or the Grizzlies will make them pay.  Rondo must especially concentrate on his passes and ball handling as Conley averages 2.6 steals a game.  

Defense - The team that works hardest on defense will be the team that wins.  The Grizzlies are a good defensive team and will limit the Celtics' easy looks.  The Celtics will need to match their defensive intensity if they want to win this game.

Be Aggressive for 48 Minutes - When the Celtics are passive and settle for jumpers and don't swarm on defense they end up in trouble.
The Celtics need to come out strong and play aggressively until the final buzzer.  They can't allow the Grizzlies to build a lead because their defense will make it difficult to come back.  

Official Report
Ken Mauer
Veteran NBA official Ken Mauer has officiated 1,497 regular season, 119 playoff, and nine Finals games, during his 25-season career. He was also a member of the crew that officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 2005 Denver All-Star game. Mauer’s resume includes six years of CBA officiating experience, nine years of collegiate officiating experience and 12 years of high school officiating experience in Minnesota. Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc less than 3 minutes into a game, and that was before the new "Respect the Game" rules. In a recent Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span. Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided, giving the Heat the title. In a Suns/OKC game last season, Mauer told Zabian Dowdell not to be a bitch about the calls. Dowdell asked him if he'd say that off the court and Mauer ejected him from the game for it. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games with Mauer officiating. This is his first game for the Celtics this season. The Grizzlies are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in the last 10 games with Mauer. His home W/L record this season is 11-6.

SirAllen Conner
This guy is a mystery. He is listed in the 2011-12 Officials Guide as a non-staff official. He was a D-League official and was also one of the replacement refs during the recent strike by the refs. This is his first season with the NBA. He has not called any games for either team previously and as near as I can figure it, this is his very first NBA game since his home W/L record is listed as 0-0.

Mark Lindsay
Mark Lindsay has officiated 232 games in his four NBA seasons. Prior
to working in the NBA, he worked for five seasons in the NBA Development
League, officiating 116 games. Lindsay received a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from Westchester University and worked as a real estate sales agent and a teacher before joining the NBA. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Big South and the Ohio Valley Conferences, and officiated for
five years for local Pennsylvania high schools. The Celtics are 0-1 in games called by Lindsay this season. The only game he called this season was the loss at Indiana where the Celtics shot 18 free throws to 23 for the Pacers. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Linday making the calls and the Grizzlies are also 4-6 in in their last 10 with Lindsay. His home W/L record this season is 13-5.

Western Conference and Home Court and Injuries
The Celtics have 6 losses at home and 4 of them are to Western Conference teams.  The Celtics have yet to beat a team from the West.    They need to focus on playing Celtic ball and let the home crowd give them the extra boost to get the win.   With the news that Brandon Bass is doubtful for this game and JO listed as questionable, the x-factor becomes the Celtics ability to play through injuries.  They will be very thin up front against a team with a tough front line.