at Boston Celtics (45-15) at Milwaukee Bucks (23-37)
Sunday, March 6
9:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #61, Road Game #29
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, NBAC
Radio: WEEI, WTMJ
Referees: Mike Callahan, Mark Lindsay, Leon Wood
This is the second meeting between these two teams. In their first game, the Celtics came away with a 105-102 victory. The Celtics are a significantly different team than the one that the Bucks faced back in November. Both of these teams are plagued by injuries but along with the injuries, the Celtics have 5 new players to work into their team chemistry.
In spite of their record, the Bucks can be a tough team to beat if they are taken for granted. The Bucks are 3rd in the league in points allowed and so their defense can cause problems for teams. But, with 2 of their starting bigs out with injuries, they have struggled somewhat.
The Celtics have won 4 of the last 7 and 9 of the last 12 meetings between these two teams. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Bucks are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are 18-10 on the road. The Bucks are 15-15 at home.
Sunday is Shaq's 39th birthday but he won't be celebrating it on the court as he is still at least a couple of games away from a return to active duty. Delonte will also miss this game but is eyeing Wednesday for his return.
Carlos Arroyo is expected to be available for this game and with his arrival, the Celtics now have 5 new players on their roster to try to bring up to speed on the team's system. The starters will need to build a lead as they have in the past few games because the second unit will be entirely made up of players that are new to the team and to each other along with Avery Bradley. The Celtics only center is Nenad Krstic as Chris Johnson was released to make room for Arroyo and Big Baby, Shaq, and JO are still sidelined with various injuries.
If the Celtics were healthy and the new players were familiar with the system, this would be an easy game. But with all the injuries on the Celtics and all the new players still trying to find their way in the system on both ends of the court, this will be far from an easy game. The Celtics must play with focus and play aggressively and with energy and if they do, they should come away with the win.
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Brandon Jennings
Ray Allen vs John Salmons
Paul Pierce vs Carlos Delfino
Kevin Garnett vs Jon Brockman
Nenad Krstic vs Larry Sanders
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Glen Davis (knee) out
Delonte West (ankle) out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Von Wafer (calf) out
Luc Mbah a Moute
Andrew Bogut (ribs) out
Michael Redd (knee) out
Drew Gooden (foot) out
Ersan Ilyasova (head) out
Rajon Rondo vs Brandon Jennings
Jennings is a good young PG who is working to make a name for himself in the league. Rondo should remember Jennings spouting garbage at KG as they walked down the tunnel after a Bucks win last season and let him know who is in charge right from the start.
Ray Allen vs John Salmons
Ray Allen is a big reason for the Celtics 4 game win streak. Over the 4 games he has been shooting 57.1% and averaging 23.3 points per game. He almost missed Friday's game with a sore knee but he continued his hot streak in spite of it. Hopefully he will be able to continue this streak against Salmons and the Bucks. The Celtics will need his efficient scoring with all the new players and injuries.
Keys to the Game Bench Play - The Celtics starting 5 should more than hold their own against the Bucks starters. But with the Celtics bench made up of 4 new players and Avery Bradley, and with Jeff Green and Troy Murphy as the only bigs coming off the bench, the Bucks have an advantage when the second units are in. The new players must come together and find some chemistry quickly if the Celtics are to keep their lead in the East.
Defense - With the trades and new players, the Celtics defense has slipped. Over their past 3 games they have allowed opponents to score over 100 points and shoot over 42% from beyond the arc. Defense wins championships and so they need to get back to that lock down defense, limiting teams to one and done and preventing any easy shots.
Focus and Energy - The Celtics must stay focused and play with energy for 48 minutes in order to overcome the miscues that will come as the result of not playing with each other very long. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket and chasing loose balls and crashing the boards.
Rebound - The Celtics must crash the boards to prevent the Bucks from getting second chance points. Rebounding is all about effort and when the Celtics put out the effort on the boards that effort seems to carry over into all the other areas of their game.
Callahan has officiated over 940+ regular season games, 65+ play-off games and 5 NBA Finals games in over 17 years as an NBA referee. Callahan is one of 4 refs to come out of Cardinal O'Hara High School in Pennsylvania. The other 3 are Joey Crawford, Ed Malloy and Tim Donaghy. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games with Callahan officiating. The Bucks are 4-6 in their last 10 with Callahan. His home W/L record this season is 31-15.
Mark Lindsay made his debut in the NBA in 2007 after spending time in the NBDL. Before the NBDL, Lindsay spent 9 years calling games at the college level. The Celtics are 0-1 in games called by Lindsay this season. His only game with the Celtics this season was a 2 point loss at Washington in which the Wizards shot 26 free throws to 18 for the Celtics and the game was poorly called. Both the Celtics and Bucks are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Linday making the calls. His home W/L record this season is 31-14.
Osie Leon Wood, III has officiated 600+ regular season games and 3 play-off games.
Prior to becoming an NBA referee, Wood was a shooting guard in the NBA. He was chosen 10th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1st round of the 1984 draft. During his career, he played for the 76ers, Bullets, Nets, Spurs, Hawks and Kings. He played in 274 games in his career and won a gold medal as a member of the 1984 US Olympic basketball team. When not officiating, Wood helps train younger officials. You would think that being a former player, Wood would try to be fair but he has been a mediocre ref at best. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 9-1 over their last 10 games with Wood officiating. Their last game with Wood was at Utah where the Jazz shot 12 more free throws than the Celtics. The officiating was terrible both ways though. The Bucks are 6-4 over their last 10 games called by Wood. His home W/L record this season is 27-26.
The Celtics are trying to work 5 new players into the team and that will take time for them all to get familiar with all the offensive and defensive sets. Hopefully that happens sooner than later and the chemistry between the new and current players develops quickly because Banner 18 depends on it.