at San Antonio Spurs (42-31) at Boston Celtics (43-29)
Sunday, March 24, 2019
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #74 Home Game #39
TV: NBA-TV, NBCSB, FSSW
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WOAI 1200 AM
TD GardenProbable Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Daniel TheisCeltics Reserves
Aron Baynes (ankle) game time decision
Gordon Hayward (concussion) game time decision
Robert Williams (back) out
Jayson Tatum (back) questionable
Al Horford (knee) out Two Way Players
Brad StevensProbable Starters
PG: Bryn Forbes
SG: Derrick White
SF: DeMar DeRozan
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Jakob Poeltl
Lonnie Walker IVInjuries
Dejounte Murray (knee) out 2-Way Players
Ben Moore Head Coach
Gregg PopovichGame Notes
The Celtics are back home to host the San Antonio Spurs for the second and final game between them this season. The Celtics lost the first game 111-120 in San Antonio on December 31. The Spurs are playing in the second game of a 3 game road trip. They lost the first game at Houston on Friday. Both teams are fighting for playoff positioning.
The Celtics are in 5th place in the East, now 1 game behind the 4th place Indiana Pacers. They are 4 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers, who are in 3rd place and who lost to the Hawks on Saturday. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and have lost their last 3 games including a tough loss on Saturday in Charlotte. They are 26-11 at home.
The Spurs are in 8th place in the West, half a game behind behind the 7th place Utah Jazz. They are not in danger of dropping out of the playoffs as they are 6 games ahead of the 8th place Kings but they would love to move up to 7th to avoid the Warriors in the first round. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have lost two in a row. They are a tough team at home, but struggle on the road with a 13-23 road record.
The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to back games. They played in Charlotte on Saturday and then had to travel overnight to get back to Boston for this game. They were up 18 at one point and were outscored 30-5 down the stretch as they came up short once again. The Celtics are 5-6 in games on the second night of back to backs and they are 1-1 when those games are road/home.
There is a chance that Gordon Hayward (concussion) and Aron Baynes (ankle) may play in this game but it will be a game time decision as to whether they can or not. Robert Williams came down hard after a dunk attempt and didn't return to the game. I expect him to be out for this game with a back contusion. Jayson Tatum is also being evaluated for a back contusion and is doubtful for this game. I expect Jaylen will start in Jayson's place if he can't go and Daniel Theis will start for Horford unless Baynes can go and gets the start. For the Spurs, Dejounte Murray is out with a knee injury. No news as to whether Greg Monroe is actually signed or not. Key Matchups
Jaylen Brown vs DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is averaging 21.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assissts and 1.1 steals. He is struggling from beyond the arc, shooting just 16.3% on 3 pointers. DeRozan finished the game in San Antonio with 13 points and 10 assists. It would be great to limit him to that kind of production in this game as well.
Marcus Morris vs LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is having a very good season, averaging 21.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks. He put up 32 points and 9 rebounds in their meeting in San Antonio and so sticking with him and limiting his touches will be important if the Celtics want to get a win in this one. Honorable Mention
Kyrie Irving vs Bryn Forbes
Forbes ended up starting after injuries took out the guards ahead of him in the rotation but has been playing very well. He is averaging 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He has the most double digit scoring games (52) of any undrafted player in the league. He is shooting 42% from beyond the arc, so Kyrie (or Terry if Kyrie is out) needs to stay with him on the perimeter.
Keys to the Game Defense
- Defense wins games and so the Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority. The Celtics are 5th with a defensive rating of 106.6 while the Spurs are 20th with a defensive rating of 111.7. However, over the last 6 games, the Celtics defensive rating is 118.9, which is 28th in the league. The Celtics recent slide is all about defense, or the lack of it. They simply must get back to playing tough team defense if they want to get back in the win column. Guard the 3 Point Line
- Specifically, on the defensive end, the Celtics must guard the 3 point line. The Spurs lead the league in 3 point percentage, shooting 40% from beyond the arc as a team. They have 3 players (Davis Bertans (43.8 ), Rudy Gay (41.8 ) and Bryn Forbes (42.5) who are all shooting better than 40% from beyond the arc. The Celtics must play tough defense on the perimeter. The Celtics allowed the Hornets to shoot 47.4% on 3's and left players open on the perimeter all game. They must play tougher defense in this game if they want to win. Rebound
- The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball, and they will struggle if they give up second chance points to the Spurs. Both teams are averaging 44.6 rebounds per game. Rebounding takes effort and when they put forth the extra effort on the boards, that tends to spread to other areas of the game as well. Move the Ball
- When the Celtics move the ball they play very well. When the ball stops moving, the Celtics struggle to score and the rest of their game slows down as well. They need to keep moving the ball and make the extra pass to find the best shot. They have to play team ball and have no hero ball. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to play hard and be the more aggressive team. They have to go after rebounds, loose balls, and 50/50 balls. They have to be aggressive on defense and in getting to the basket. The difference between most wins and losses is aggressiveness of the Celtics. They have to be the team that works harder and wants it more. Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have an infuriating habit of playing hard only part of the game. They either start slow and allow teams to get a big lead and then have to play catch up or they build a big lead and then fall apart, allowing the opponent to come back and win. The Celtics must play team ball and play hard for the full 48 minutes. They won't win only playing half the game. X-FactorsHome Game
- The Celtics are once again at home where they should get a boost from the home crowd and from the familiarity of their home court. Also, the Spurs have been struggling somewhat on the road, losing 23 of 36 road games so far. The Celtics need to capitalize on their home court and use it to their advantage.
Back to Back
- The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to back games. They haven't been all that successful in back to back games so far, winning 5 and losing 6. They also had to travel after the game. Fatigue could become a factor down the stretch of the game. Injuries
- The Celtics have a lot of injuries and while it is next man up, and they usually play well when they have to overcome injuries, it's possible that with them playing on Saturday night and then having to travel and being short handed, they may not have enough in the tank to overcome a good game by the Spurs.