at Boston Celtics (9-10) at Cleveland Cavaliers (8-11)
Tuesday, January 31
7:00 PM ET
Game #20, Away Game #8
TV: CSNNE, FSO, LP 752/753
Radio: WTAM, WEEI
Quicken Loans Arena Probable Starters Avery Bradley.......Ray Allen.......Paul Pierce.......Kevin Garnett...... Jermaine O'NealBoston Bench
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) day to day
Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day
Rajon Rondo (wrist) day to day
Avery Bradley (ankle) probable Probable StartersKyrie Irving.....Alonzo Gee.....Omri Casspi....Antawn Jamison.....Anderson VarejaoCleveland Bench
Daniel Gibson (neck) questionable
Anthony Parker (back) questionable Team Connections
Anthony Parker and Jermaine O’Neal were teammates in Toronto during the 2008-09 season
Daniel Gibson, Tristan Thompson and Avery Bradley all attended the University of Texas
Cavaliers Assistant Coach Paul Pressey was an assistant with Boston from 2004-06
Luke Harangody and Semih Erden were both draft picks by the Celtics and played for the team during the 2010-11 season.Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Omri Casspi
Paul Pierce was upset by Sunday's loss and I expect him to come into this game on a mission. Pierce had a good game on Sunday, shooting 8-12 for 18 points with 6 rebounds and 5 assists, but he also turned the ball over 7 times. He drove into traffic and lost the ball and a couple times just made bad passes. Hopefully he will come into this game more focused and avoid the mistakes and turnovers and lead the team to a win.
Jermaine O'Neal vs Anderson Varejao
JO was a game time decision for Sunday's game and he was scratched at the last minute. The Celtics sure could use his defense in helping to stop Varejao, who lived up to his "Wild Thing" nickname in the first meeting. He had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals, and most importantly, brought a ton of energy that spurred his teammates. JO, Wilcox, and Stiemsma will need to do a better job of boxing him out and trying to contain him. Honorable Mention
Avery Bradley (or Rajon Rondo) vs Kyrie Irving
Irving lived up to his hype in the first game and finished off the Celtics with the game winning shot. He had 23 points and 6 assists in the first meeting and the Celtics point guards have got to stay in front of him and slow him down. Game Notes
The Celtics ended their 4 game win streak with a very bad loss to these very same Cavs in their last outing. They seemed to be complacent from start to finish. After demolishing both the Magic and the Pacers, there was no reason for them to allow the Cavs to hang with them. It appeared that they were either over confident or not focused on the game at hand as can be seen by the 16 turnovers and the failure to score down the stretch, allowing the Cavs to go on a 12-0 run to win the game.
The Celtics all voiced their displeasure over the way the last game ended. Pierce was upset that he was on the bench in crunch time and hopefully that doesn't cause a rift with him and Doc. Whether Doc underestimated the Cavs or saw that Pierce wasn't focused and was turning the ball over, he chose to keep Pierce on the bench while the Cavs came back from an 11 point deficit. Either way, we should expect a more focused Pierce on a mission to undo the wrongs of the previous game.
KG and Ray also both expressed how upset they were over the loss. If they really meant it, both should learn from the loss and play up to their potential instead of down to the Cavs' level. The loss will still be fresh in their minds and that should be a good thing.
As with every game recently, we aren't sure who will be playing and who will be out. Doc hinted that Rondo could be back this week and possibly for this game. That would be a good thing as Irving is a tough matchup for any point guard but Rondo should be able to handle him better than either E'Twaun or Avery. Avery turned his ankle in the last game but hopefully will be available for this one. Also, JO was a game time decision for the last game and so we would have to hope that he will be ready for this one.Keys to the Game Focus
- The Celtics have shown that when they come out focused and keep their intensity, especially on defense, throughout the game, they win. They didn't seem to be focused from the tip and they totally melted down in the 4th quarter when the Cavs made their run. They must focus on playing their game and not play down to the Cavs. Their 16 turnovers show a lack of focus. They must fix that if they want to win this game. Rebound
- Rebounding is key to getting a win. It's no coincidence that the Celtics won the rebounding battle in their previous 4 games, all wins, and lost this game where they were out-rebounded 37-33. Rebounding is mostly desire and effort. When the Celtics put out the effort to out-rebound their opponents, they usually get the win. When they put the effort in to crashing the boards, that effort also tends to show in other areas of the game as well. They out-rebounded the Magic and the Pacers, both good rebounding teams, because they made the effort to hustle for every rebound. They need get back to doing that in this game. Defense
- Defense is the key to every game. They have played that kind of defense in the 3 games vs the Magic and the Pacers. Their defense wasn't all that great in this game. They allowed too many easy baskets and open looks, especially letting Irving get into the paint for the game winner. They have to make defense a priority.X-Factors
Focus and Officiating
If the focus and energy are there, the Celtics will win. If they lose focus and feel they can play less than their best because of the Cavs record, as they did in the first game between these two teams, then they could lose another one. Also, the officiating was horrendous in the first game. Had they called a couple of the obvious fouls down the stretch, the outcome would have been different, in spite of the Celtics meltdown. Hopefully they owe us one and will at least call it fair in this one.