Celtics Look to Win 2 in a Row as they Host Wizards

Washington Wizards (0-2) at Boston Celtics (1-2) 
Wednesday, November 7,2012
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #4  Home Game #2
TV:  CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 753 (Wiz)/754(C's)
Radio:  WEEI,  WJFK
TD Garden 
 Referees:  Monty McCutchen,  Bennie Adams,  Kevin Scott

The Celtics complete a home and home set with the Wizards as they try to climb to .500 after an 0-2 start.  The Celtics started the game in Washington very strong but faded toward the end, allowing the Wizards to make it a close game and almost steal it. 

The Celtics were playing in back to back games on the road, which may have been a factor.  Doc said he wasn't happy with the team's conditioning and ran them through conditioning drills in practice.   Doc also talked about the need for consistency. 

Both teams have had 3 days off prior to this game and so fatigue shouldn't be a factor, unless Doc has worn the team out with the conditioning drills.   The Celtics have also struggled to regain their defensive focus and will look to regain their reputation as one of the top defensive teams in the league starting with this game. 

Jared Sullinger moved into the starting lineup in the last game and was somewhat successful there and although it's never certain these days, I expect him to remain there for this game as well.  Word out of practice on Tuesday was that Sully was practicing with the first team while Brandon Bass was with the second unit. 

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo...Courtney Lee...Paul Pierce...Jared Sullinger...Kevin Garnett

Celtics Reserves
Brandon Bass
Jason Collins
Jason Terry
Jeff Green
Kris Joseph
Fab Melo
Darko Milicic
Leandro Barbosa
Chris Wilcox

Avery Bradley (shoulders) out

Probable Starters
AJ Price....Bradley Beal....Trevor Ariza....Trevor Booker.... Emeka Okafor

Wizards Reserves

Jan Vesely
Martell Webster
Jordan Crawford
Chris Singleton
Jannero Pargo
Earl Barron
Cartier Martin
Kevin Seraphin

Nene (foot) out
Jordan Crawford (ankle) probable
John Wall (Patella) out 

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs AJ Price
 As Rondo goes so go the Celtics.  With former number 1 pick John Wall out, Rondo should have a much easier time against AJ Price.,  Rondo needs to be aggressive and to be make sure that they play team ball and not hero ball.  Rondo has been playing big minutes for the Celtics and hopefully someone on the bench will step up so that Rondo can be fresher down the stretch. 

Paul Pierce vs Trevor Ariza
Pierce had a very strong game against the Wizards on Saturday and hopefully he can again lead the Celtics to a win in this one.   It would be great to see consistency instead of one big game and then a bad one. 

Honorable Mention
Courtney Lee vs Bradley Beal
Lee struggled somewhat in the first game against the Wizards, shooting just 2-7 from the field.  He vowed to play better in this game and so hopefully he will find his shot in this game.   

Keys to the Game
Defense    Defense always wins games.  The Celtics have to make defense their priority and shut down the paint as well as staying on their outside shooters.  The Celtics haven't been able to establish that lock down defense that they have been famous for since KG joined the team. 

Rebound  The Celtics must crash the boards and keep the Wizards from getting second chance points, fast break opportunities and extra possessions.   As I have said before, when the Celtics put out the effort necessary to win the battle of the boards, that effort seems to pick up every area of their game as well.    Sully's presence in the starting lineup helps but someone needs to step up on the second unit and crash the boards.  Although they outrebounded the defending champion Heat to open the season, the Celtics have lost the battle of the boards 92-71 over the past two games. The Wizards had a 46-35 edge Saturday.

Be Aggressive  The Celtics need to play aggressively.  They need to take the ball to the hoop and try to get to the line early and often.   Make the officials call the fouls.  They also have to go for every loose ball and battle for all the rebounds.   If they play passively, they could be facing a loss to a team that is hungry for their first win.    The Celtics were aggressive in the first half of the last game but then let up and played passively in the second half.  They need to be consistent throughout the game.   

Bench Play
The Bench was supposed to be the Celtics strength but so far, they have disappointed and have been outscored by their opponents in each of the first 3 games.  They need to find their offense and also some consistency.

Official Report
Monty McCutchen 
Monty McCutchen has officiated 1,138 regular season, 94 playoff, and six Finals games. He worked the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas and was a member of the crews that officiated the 1996 and 1997 Mexico Challenges, as well as the 1998 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, McCutchen spent four seasons in the CBA, where he worked the All Star game his second year and the playoffs all four years. He also officiated the CBA Finals the last three years he was with the league. McCutchen missed the 1998-99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He is a former elementary and middle school teacher and is fondly remembered by his students as a really nice guy. In searching for information on him, I found a Cavs' blog that blamed a loss to the Celtics on the officiating of Monty McCutchen. That was the game where Mike Brown was ejected and the Cavs made a furious comeback but fell short. In game 2 of the WCF, McCutchen flipped out on someone and yelled "I'm running this game not you!" as Serge Ibaka went to the line for free throws. Other than that, there's not a lot of controversy about him. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 0-1 this season with McCutchen on the court. He officiated the Heat game to open the season. Needless to say, he allowed Wade and Battier to grab and shove off and foul all game, which led to Rondo's flagrant on Wade out of frustration. The Wizards are 2-8 in their last 10 games with McCutchen. His home W/L record this season is 2-1.

 Bennie Adams
 A former math instructor at Southern University, Bennie Adams joined the NBA officiating staff 18 seasons ago, and since then has officiated 956 regular season and seven playoff games. In addition, he has been a USA Basketball official since 1995. Adams has also officiated the 2008 NBA Europe Live Tour and the 2002 NBA All Star Rookie Challenge. Adams officiated in the CBA for three years, and worked the 1996 CBA Finals. He also has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Trans America Athletic and Southwestern Athletic Conferences. Adams also has 10 years of high school officiating experience in Louisiana. Adams has both a Masters and Bachelors degree in mathematics from Southern University.

Adams tends to be inconsistent especially on charge/block calls. He is one of Tommy Heinsohn's least favorites. In one game, Tommy went ballistic yelling at the top of his lungs "GO BACK TO YOUR MOMMA BENNIE ADAMS!!!" This is Adam's first game with the Celtics this season and they are 6-4 in their last 10 with Adams on the court. The 4 games he officiated for the Celtics last season were all called fairly even. The Wizards are also 6-4 in their last 10 games with Adams. His home team W/L record this season is 0-3.

Kevin Scott
 Kevin Scott enters his second NBA season having officiated 28 regular season games. Scott’s experience includes four seasons and 138 games officiated in the NBA DLeague where he officiated the playoffs in 2009, 2010, 2011 and was selected to work the NBA DLeague Finals in 2011. Scott’s collegiate experience includes four years in the Southeastern Conference, 10 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, six years in the Southern Conference, and seven years in the Big South Conference. He was also one of the replacement officials during the referee lockout in 2009. He may be remembered for ejecting Bobcats'coach 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 third career game for the Celtics and the Celtics are 2-0 with Scott in his career. The first was a win over NJ where the Nets shot 28 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. The second was against the Bobcats where the Celtics shot 45 free throws to 35 for Charlotte and every play seemed to result in a foul. The Wizards are 0-6 with Scott all time. His home W/L record this season is 1-0.

Chemistry and Consistency Can the Celtics finally build some chemistry with their new players? Can they develop consistency and finally go on a win streak? We shall see.