Celtics look for 3rd win in a row as they host the Nets

New Jersey Nets (11-25) at Boston Celtics (17-17)
Friday, March 2
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #35, Home Game #21
TV:  CSNNE,  YES, NBA-LP 752/753
Radio  WEEI,  WBBR 
TD Garden 
Referees:   Ed Malloy,  Kevin Scott,  Sean Wright

The Celtics have clawed their way back to .500 and face a Nets team that is just 11-25.  It would be easy to overlook them but the Celtics haven't played well enough in their two wins since the break to overlook any team.   And Deron Williams delights in having his best games against the better point guards. 

The Nets are struggling with injuries and have 4 rotation players out.  The Celtics are as healthy as they've been all season with only Jermaine O'Neal on the injured list.   The Celtics are 1-0 on the season so far with an 89-70 win in the Garden in January.  They will face each other one more time in New Jersey in April. 

The Nets are one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA, ranking 25th in scoring at 92.5 ppg.  Strangely, the Celtics are an even worse scoring team, being ranked 26th in scoring at 89.7 ppg.  However, the Celtics are ranked 6th in FG% at 45.5 while the Nets are Both teams turn the ball over at 15.56 per game.  Neither team is a great rebounding team with the Celtics coming in 30th at 39.2 rpg while the Nets are 29th with 39.8 rpg. 

The Celtics need to make a statement in this game.  They are putting things together for the stretch run and if they are going to hope to be contenders this season,  they must begin now to prove it.   

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo....Ray Allen.....Paul Pierce....Brandon Bass....Kevin Garnett

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

Jermaine O'Neal (wrist)  out 

Probable Starters
Deron Williams.....Marshon Brooks .... DeShawn Stevenson.... Kris Humphries ....Brook Lopez

New Jersey Reserves
Sheldon Williams
Sundiata Gaines
Johan Petro
Anthony Morrow
Gerald Green
Jordan Williams

Mehmet Okur (back) out
Shawne Williams (shoulder)  out
Jordan Farmar  (groin)  game time decision
Damion James (foot)  out 

Key Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Brook Lopez
Kevin Garnett has been playing very well in the past two games since the break.  He will be facing a very good young center in Brook Lopez, who has been one of the bright spots for New Jersey over the past couple of years.  KG needs to be aggressive on both ends of the court to win this matchup. 

Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
Rondo is coming off a triple double but Deron Williams won't be quite as easy a match up as Brandon Jennings was.  Rondo will need to keep his head in the game against Williams. 

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs MarShon Brooks 
On draft night, Danny picked Providence College's MarShon Brooks and most Celtics fans were happy with the pick, but a couple picks later he traded Brooks for JaJuan Johnson.  Brooks is in the running for rookie of the year and has moved into the starting lineup for the Nets.  Hopefully Ray will have a big night and end a few of the "what if's" about the trade. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - The key to every win is defense.  The Celtics have got to put out the effort on the defensive end and when the defense is on track, that fuels the offense.  The Celtics are 0-3 when allowing teams to reach 100 points.  They absolutely must lock down on defense if they want to win, especially since they they have been struggling to score. 

Rebound - Rebounding is a big key to getting a win.   The Celtics must put out the effort on the boards to prevent second chance baskets and put backs from the Nets.   The Celtics must make an effort to rebound as a team and box out the Nets to keep them off the boards. 

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics must come out strong and make a statement early.  They shouldn't give the Nets any hope that they could win this game.  They also have to play hard for 48 minutes.  They have given up big leads in both games so far since the break and they have to get away from that trend. 

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be the more aggressive team.  They have to hustle after loose balls and rebounds.  They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not just settling for jumpers. The Celtics can't let the Nets out-hustle them. 

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 second game with Malloy this season. The first was a loss in Dallas and they are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The Nets are are 1-9 over their last 10 games with Malloy as a ref. His home W/L record is 17-10.

Kevin Scott
Kevin Scott is listed as a non-staff official, whatever that means. Scott has 11 years of experience at the college level and he has also worked 4 years in the D-League. He was one of several D-league refs who officiated 8 NBA games in the 2010 season. He was also one of the replacement officials during the referee lockout in 2009. He may be remembered for ejecting Larry Brown from an exhibition game that season and then calling security to escort him from the court when he didn't leave quickly enough for Scott. Brown was fined $60,000 for verbally abusing Scott. This will be Scott's first career game for the Celtics. The Nets are 0-1 with Scott all time. His home W/L record this season is 4-4.

Sean Wright
Wright has officiated 353 regular season and five playoff games in his six seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, Wright was an official in the NBA Development League
where he participated in the playoffs in 2003-04 and the championship game in 2005.
Wright’s collegiate officiating experience includes working in the SEC, Colonial, Big South, Southern, Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. He participated in the Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2003 and the Men’s NCAA Division II tournament in 2004. He officiated the Eduardo Najera Foundation charity basketball game in 2006 and the Terrell Owens Foundation charity basketball game in 2005. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 with Wright on the court. He officiated a win over the Nets this season in which the Celtics took 21 free throws to 10 for the Nets. He also called a loss vs Detroit where the Pistons took 46 free throws to just 15 for the Celtics. Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game of the season.  It was Sean Wright that Rondo threw the ball at resulting in his ejection and suspension.   The Nets are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Wright. His home W/L record this season is 15-12.

Home Court and Energy
The Celtics are in the midst of their last home stand of the season and face a lot of team on the road the rest of the way.  They said that they want to establish more of a home dominance and so they need to follow through with that and take advantage of the home crowd in this one.  They also have to play with energy.  Going through the motions won't get it done.