Celtics Look for Better Effort in Game 2 vs Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers (4-3, 0-1) at Boston Celtics (5-2,1-0)
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 2
Monday May 14, 2012
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #8, Home Game #5
Radio:  WEEI,  97.5 The Fanatic
TD Garden
Referees:  Dan Crawford,  Jason Phillips,  Michael Smith
The Celtics have to feel lucky that they pulled out the win in game 1.  Philly led for most of the game and the Celtics struggled for three quarters.  They were very sluggish to start the game and didn't look like they were actually trying until the second half.   Injuries could influence their play, but since they were able to turn it on in the second half, it seems to be more of an effort thing.

They have to know that it would be very dangerous to come out slow and allow the Sixers to hang around for a second game in a row.  One of these times that strategy will come back to bite them.  The Celtics need to come out strong from the beginning and establish the pace of the game.

Pierce and Allen will still struggle with the injuries and hopefully they can also continue to play through them and be effective in their minutes on the court.  All 15 players participated in the shootaround and are expected to play in this game.    Rondo needs to give an effort from the start.  It didn't seem as though he took the game seriously until after the half in game 1.  Bass and Pietrus have struggled in the playoffs so far and it would be great to see them get on track finally.

Hopefully the Celtics decide to come out and play from the start in this game and not tempt fate two games in a row.  It's great they pulled out the win in game 1 but they are capable of so much more in this game if they only put forth the effort. 

Probable Starters

PG: Rajon Rondo 16.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 11.8 APG, + 24.6 EFF *

SG: Avery Bradley  7.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.7 APG,  +5.17 EFF

SF:  Paul Pierce  21.2 PPG,  6.3 RPG, 3.8 APG,  + 19.67 EFF

PF: Brandon Bass 9.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.5 APG,  +11.00 EFF

C: Kevin Garnett 20.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.0 APG,  +26.57 EFF

Coach: Doc Rivers

Celtics Reserves
Greg Stiemsma
JaJuan Johnson
E'Twaun Moore
Marquis Daniels
Sasha Pavlovic
Ray Allen
Keyon Dooling
Ryan Hollins
Mickael Pietrus

Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder)  probable
Ray Allen (ankle) day to day
Greg Stiemsma (feet)  probable

Probable Starters

PG: Jrue Holiday  18.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, +18.33 EFF

 SG: Evan Turner  11.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.8 APG,  +11.83 EFF

SF: Andre Iguodala  12.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG,  +14.33 EFF

PF: Elton Brand  8.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG,  0.7 APG,  +11.33

C:Spencer Hawes  11.5 PPG,  8.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, +16.17 EFF

Sixers Reserves
Thaddeus Young
Sam Young
Nikola Vucevic
Lou Williams
Tony Battie
Craig Brackins
Lavoy Allen
Jodie Meeks
Craig Brackens

Thaddeus Young (ankle) probable
Elton Brand (neck) probable

Key Matchups  
Kevin Garnett vs Spencer Hawes
KG has been the Celtics best player on the court by far.  His +/- numbers are off the chart.  In the Atlanta series the team was 51.5 points better with him on the court.  No one else was even close.  Hawes has not been a lock down defender and so the Celtics will continue to look to KG to lead the team.

Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
As has been the case so many times, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.  In game 1, Rondo was a bit laid back in the first half and so were the Celtics.  In the second half, he decided to play and so did the Celtics.  The Celtics need Rondo to come out strong from the start and set the tone for the team and for the game.

Honorable Mention

Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala    
Pierce is clearly not 100% and is short on many of his jumpers, shooting just 3-11 from the field.  That didn't stop him from helping the team in other ways in game 1. He got to the free throw line and was 8-8 from the line.  He also contributed 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.  Hopefully the knee can improve with rest between games as the Celtics need all the things that Pierce contributes to the game.  Iguodala led the Sixers with 19 points and the Celtics need to find a way to limit his effectiveness in this game.

Key Off the Bench

Ray Allen has been playing through pain and was a game time decision for game 1 and will likely be a game time decision for this game as well.  He pretty much has been the Celtics only offense off the bench and so the Celtics need him.  He only shot 3-10 from the field and 2-7 from beyond the arc, which can be attributed to the ankle acting up. The Celtics need Ray's scoring and so hopefully the ankle will let him play in this one.

With Stiemsma all but disappearing in the playoffs, Hollins play has been crucial for the Celtics.  KG needs rest and they need someone to come in and give him a rest.  Doc said that Hollins and KG on the floor is the team's best defensive lineup.  The Celtics need Hollins to continue to come in and make smart decisions and allow both KG and Bass to get some rest.

Lou Williams gives the Sixers a boost off the bench scoring almost 13 points per game.  He came up with a big shot in game 6 to help them advance and he can be a dangerous scorer if left open.  He was just 4-11 in game 1 and many of the Sixer fans blamed his shot selection for the loss.  Just as the Celtics need Ray's scoring off the bench,  the Sixers need Williams' scoring.

Lavoy Allen give the Sixers a big boost off the bench with some tough inside play and rebounding.  They will need him to play big once again in game 2 for the Sixers to have a chance.  He's a big body and can give the Celtics some problems.

Keys to the Game
Defense -  Defense is the key to a win in every game.  The Sixers are going to want to run and get easy shots in transition and the Celtics must make an effort to get back on defense.  They have to defend the 3 point line and not allow them open looks.  They have to play tough lock down defense and not allow them anything easy.  The Sixers shot 44% from the field in game 1 and the Celtics have to do a better job of disrupting their offense and lower that percentage.

Rebound -   The Sixers are a good rebounding team, ranking 7th in the league at 43.2 rebounds per game in the regular season.   The Celtics finished the season ranked 30th at 38.8 rpg.  However, both teams are dead even in the playoffs at 41.17 rebounds per game.   The Celtics out-rebounded the Sixers in game 1 45-41.  They will need to once again crash the boards in this game.  Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics have got to continue to crash the boards as a team since the team that wins the rebounding battle will more than likely win the war.

Take Care of the Ball  - The Celtics tend to turn the ball over way too much.  In the regular season, the Celtics averaged 14.8 TO per game while Philly averaged 12.8.  In the playoffs, the Celtics have cut their turnovers to 12.8 per game  and committed 13 TO's in game 1 while the Sixers have cut theirs down even more to 9.8 and committed just 11 in game 1.   The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man without making sloppy passes and turning the ball over.  Doc has singled out limiting turnovers as the most important thing they have to do.   Rondo committed 7 turnovers as he was a bit sloppy in the first half and that is very un-Rondo like.  They can't make sloppy and casual passes because the Sixers will make them pay for it.

Bench Play - The Celtics need to get quality minutes from their bench. With the injuries and fatigue becoming a factor as they move further into the playoffs,   they have to find a way to rest their starters without giving up a lead or digging a hole.   Pietrus, Dooling and others must step up to give the Celtics some scoring off the bench and some preservation of the starters.   Pietrus has been struggling offensively, but has been playing great defense.  Dooling has been hitting some key shots in his time and playing good defense as well.  It would be great to get both Stiemsma and Hollins playing well and hopefully Ray will be able to once again play some quality minutes off the bench. 

Official Report

Dan Crawford
Entering his 27th NBA season, Dan Crawford has officiated 1,770 regular season and 256 playoff games, including 25 NBA Finals games. During his NBA tenure, Crawford has officiated the 1994 and 2001 NBA All-Star Games, and the 1992 Japan Games in Yokohama. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford spent four years officiating in the CBA. He has eight years of collegiate officiating experience and officiated the 1983 and 1984 National Junior College Nationals. Crawford has been honored for his achievements in the Northeastern (Ill.) Wall of Fame. Crawford was a member of the Northeastern University basketball team. After one of the Celtics playoff games in Chicago in round 1 in 2008, there was some controversy when he was seen leaving the arena with his family all decked out in Chicago Bulls gear. He's been in the news lately because he has been accused of having a bias against Marc Cuban because the Mavs were 2-16 in games officiated by Crawford last season and Cuban has been very vocal about it. The Celtics are 1-3 this season and are 5-5 over their last 10 games with Crawford officiating. One loss this season was the against Miami game in which the Heat shot 8 more free throws than the Celtics. The second loss was to he Knicks where NY shot 17 free throws to 34 for the Celtics. The final loss was the 1 point loss in game 5 in Atlanta where the Celtics shot 15 free throws to 14 for the Hawks and the officiating was pretty good and they let them play on both sides. The win was over New Jersey where the Nets shot 10 free throws to 21 for the Celtics. Overall, he's done a pretty good job this season. The Sixers are 2-1 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games. His home W/L record is 34-24 this season.

Jason Phillips
Phillips has officiated 716 regular season games and 19 playoff games since joining the NBA officiating staff 12 seasons ago. He officiated his first two Finals games during the 2010-11 season. In addition, Phillips has six seasons of experience officiating in the CBA, working the 1999 CBA Finals. He also officiated three seasons in the WNBA, working the 1999 WNBA Finals. Phillips spent five years officiating at the high school level in his home state of Texas. The Celtics are 5-1 this season and they are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. The loss this season was to Chicago where the Celtics shot 13 free throws to 21 for the Bulls. One win, Charlotte shot 20 free throws to 8 for the Celtics and another win was against Cleveland where the Cavs shot 25 free throws to 14 for the Celtics and the refs let the Cavs hack and trip all night with no calls. The ignored Ray Allen being tripped in a one point game. The 3rd win was against the Clippers where the Celtics shot 27 free throws to 21 for LA. The 4th win was vs the Timberwolves where the Wolves shot 25 free throws to 11 for the Celtics and the refs let Minny get away with a lot of contact. The final win of the season was vs the Nets in which the Celtics shot 22 free throws to 14 for the Nets. It was Phillips and crew that got Tommy to swear on the air last season about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. This is his first game in the playoffs for the Celtics. He called the first CHI/PHI game in that series. The Sixers are 1-3 this season and 5-5 with Phillips over their last 10. He isn't influenced by the home crowd with a home W/L record this season of 27-27.

Michael Smith
A winner of the Vanguard Club Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of sports, NBA veteran official Michael Smith has officiated 1,078 regular season and 28 playoff games, as well as the 1997 Schick Rookie Game, the 2000 Mexico Challenge and the 2003 NBA Europe Games. In addition to his 17 seasons of NBA officiating experience, Smith has five years of CBA
officiating experience and eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big Ten, SEC and Conference USA. Smith also has 10 years of high school officiating experience, and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1990 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. The Celtics are 3-0 with Smith this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games. One win was at Orlando where the Magic shot 31 free throws to 19 for the Celtics. The other win was vs the Wizards where the Celtics shot 18 free throws to 19 for the Wizards. The 3rd win was over the Heat in which the Heat shot 27 free throws to 25 for the Celtics and it was well officiated. The Sixers are 2-3 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Smith. This is the first playoff game with Smith for the Celtics. He called the first game against Chicago for Philly. Smith was one of the referees Mark Cuban received a $75,000 fine for criticizing in an OKC/Mavs game this season. His home W/L record is 31-23.

Injuries, Officiating, and Home Court
Injuries are affecting the Celtics but so far they have played through them enough to keep winning.  Can they continue to play through the injuries?  We have to hope so.  The officiating is always an x-factor.  The officiating has been pretty good so far other than Marc Davis.  Will that continue in this game?   Home court has to be good for at least a few points a game.  Hopefully the team can feed off the energy from the crowd.