Celtics Visit Wizards Looking for First Win

Boston Celtics (0-2) at Wizards (0-1)
Regular Season Game #3, Road Game #2
Saturday,  November 3, 2012
7:00 PM ET
TV:  CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 751(BOS)/752(WAS)
Radio:  WEEI,  WJFK
Verizon Center 
Referees:   Joey Crawford, David Guthrie, Derek Richardson

The Celtics will look to avoid an 0-3 start tonight as they take on the Washington Wizards.  The Celtics main concern going into this game is their defense.  Last year, the Celtics led the league in opponents' FG percentage allowing teams to shoot just 41.9  from the floor.  This season they have allowed the Heat to shoot 54.4% (and score 120 points) and the Bucks to shoot 46.5% 

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games, after a rather listless loss in their home opener to the Bucks.  The Wizards have had 3 days off and have spent practice studying the Celtics tendencies and feel that they are ready for the challenge.  Even without their star guard John Wall, who is out with a knee injury, the Wizards are an improved team and will present a test for the Celtics.  The Celtics will need to do more than just show up in order to avoid yet another loss.

KG spoke to the team after their loss last night and encouraged them to imitate a pack of hyenas with their play.   That could be good advice for them.   They have a lot of individual talent on this team but they have yet to put it together and play as a team, especially on the defensive end.    They need to band together and develop chemistry on the court in order to right the ship.  That should be just a matter of time and could happen with any game. 

This is the first of a rare home and home set for these two teams and they will face each other again on Wednesday in Boston. With each game, this team should be learning more about themselves and building chemistry bit by bit.   Look for the Celtics to come out more aggressively tonight and for the bench to step up a bit more than they have in the first two games.   Both teams are looking for their first win.  It is the Wizards home opener.  Expect a dog fight from both teams.  Or perhaps, for the Celtics, a hyena fight. 

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo...Courtney Lee...Paul Pierce...Brandon Bass...Kevin Garnett

Celtics Reserves
Jared Sullinger
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

Nene (foot) out
Kevin Seraphin (calf) out
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 and should have a big game. 

Kevin Garnett vs Emeka Okafor
KG has a couple of inches on Okafor and should be able to bully his way inside or get his shot off over Okafor,. 

Honorable Mention
Courtney Lee vs Bradley Beal
CLee should be able to use his veteran wiles to get the best of the Rookie.  Beal's family will be there to watch his home opener and he'll be excited to show the home crowd what he can do.  He's been studying the Celtics wings over the past 3 days of practice and feels he's ready to take them on.  Lee needs to relax and just play his 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.

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. 

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.     

Limit Turnovers - The Celtics have turned the ball over too much this season so far.  They tend to make lazy passes and lose focus from time to time and give their opponents easy scoring opportunities because of it.  They have to take better care of the ball. 

The Celtics have played rather passively so far, especially on the defensive end.  They haven't been aggressive and haven't shown much chemistry among the players.  Hopefully KG's call to arms (or paws, as the case may be) will be enough to wake them up. 

Official Report
Joey Crawford
Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,449 regular season and 293 playoff games, including 47 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s playoff and NBA Finals totals are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford officiated in the Eastern League (CBA) from 1974-76. He graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. and is a member of the Cardinal O’Hara High School Hall of Fame. In 2008, Crawford earned a degree in Liberal studies from Neumann College. Officiating can be considered a Crawford “family affair,” as his brother is veteran Major League Baseball umpire Jerry Crawford, and his father is retired Major League Baseball umpire Shag Crawford. Crawford is also very active in his hometown community of Philadelphia.

 There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. 

 He is widely viewed as one of the refs in the NBA who can officiate with an agenda and shows his biases on the court, hence the controversy that seems to follow him throughout his career. The Celtics played 9 games with Crawford officiating last season the last of which was game 7 vs Miami in the ECF. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 with Crawford while the Wizards are 3-7 in their last 10 with Crawford. This is Joey's first game this season. How did the Celtics get so lucky.

David Guthrie
David Guthrie enters his eighth season after officiating 384 regular season games and six playoff games. Prior to joining the NBA, Guthrie was an official in the CBA, NBA Development League and the New York City Pro Am. He participated in the D-League playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the DLeague championship games in 2004 and 2005. He officiated at the collegiate level in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, Southern, OVC, ASUN, Big South and SWAC conferences and participated in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments. Outside of his life in basketball, Guthrie was a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization playing professionally with the team in Princeton, W. Va., Billings, Mont., Charleston, W.Va. and Chattanooga, Tenn. He attended both Southern Union Community College in Wadley, Ala. and North Carolina State University on baseball scholarships. He played in the Cape Cod Wooden Bat College Summer League for the Falmouth Commodores in 1994 and played baseball and basketball at W.Va. Berry High School in Birmingham, Ala. 

The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Guthrie and the Wizards are 4-6 in their last 10. He called just one game for the Celtics last season, a 94-82 win over the Bobcats in which the Bobcats took 20 free throws and the Celtics 17. The refs did a good job of staying out of the way, which is what you want from an official. His home W/L record this season is 0-1.

Derek Richardson
Derek Richardson has officiated 906 regular season games and one playoff game, as well as the 2003 NBA Rookie Game in Atlanta, during his 15 seasons as an NBA official. Prior to joining the NBA, Richardson spent eight years officiating in the CBA, including the 1996 CBA All-Star game and two games of the 1996 CBA Finals. Richardson played basketball at Los Angeles Southwest College and earned an Associate of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. He went on to earn a degree in Administration of Justice from Los Angeles Dominguez Hills. Richardson has volunteered with the South Central Los Angeles YMCA, assisting with youth basketball programs. 

Richardson is known for being inconsistent with his calls, especially on charge/block calls. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Richardson. The Wizards are 3-7 over their last 10 games with Richardson as a ref. This is his first game officiating this season.