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Game 14/82: Celtics (9-4) @ Hawks (8-5); Open Thread

 

Boston at Atlanta

7 P.M. ET

Philips Arena

CSN


Offensive Efficiency:

Boston: 106.4 points/100 possessions (6th)

Atlanta: 108.7 points/100 possessions (4th)

Defensive Efficiency:

Boston: 99.3 points allowed/100 possessions (tie-5th)

Atlanta: 104.8 points allowed/100 possessions (17th)

Probable Hawks starters: Joe Johnson (SG), Mike Bibby (PG), Marvin Williams (SF), Josh Smith (PF), Al Horford (C)

Thumbnail:

The Celtics come in riding a two-game losing streak. Without Rajon Rondo. On the road. In the second game of a back-to-back. Against a team that beat them four times in four tries last season. And doesn’t like them. At all.

This one might get messy, folks. 


WHAT THE HAWKS DO WELL:

Dole out $120M contracts to aging shooting guards.

Also – beat up the Celtics’ defense.

The Hawks ran up some impressive offensive numbers against the Celtics last season on their way to the regular-season sweep. But new coach Larry Drew has installed a motion offense far less dependent on ISO situations. The Hawks are moving the ball from strong side to weak, setting off-ball screens and flashing cutters – all with sterling results (4th in the league in offensive efficiency).

That noted, the Hawks have had great success isolating Johnson on Allen. Johnson has torched Ray again and again the last few years, so Doc Rivers may elect to stretch out Delonte West tonight and let him body up on the Hawks’ shooting guard for extended minutes. One question though – is Joe Johnson still Joe Johnson? He’s still a high usage player, but off to a rough start this year, with a 16.06 PER (lowest since 2004-05) and middling shooting (tied for 191st in the league in TS% including only 25.4% from the three point line). He looks increasingly defensible.

The Hawks’ energetic frontline remains challenging for Boston’s older veteran group to contain, particularly on the second night of a back-to-back and with Horford appearing to have made the leap (see “Players Who Make Me Worry”). Expect the Hawks to attack relentlessly and make second and third efforts on loose balls and rebounds. Hope that Boston does the same.

To win tonight, Boston has to close out on shooters, finish off individual defensive possessions, limit the Hawks’ second chance points, and maintain its defense for something close to 48 minutes. Given all the trauma/fan anger over the defensive efforts against Oklahoma City and Toronto, it’d be pretty damn disappointing if they didn’t bring the necessary energy tonight.

For a little more in-depth play breakdown-ish-ness, the folks over at the Hawks blog Hoopinion have a look at one of the most common Hawks offensive sets this season. Ray Ray – are you watching?

WHAT THE HAWKS DO POORLY:

Defend and defensive rebound.

Which could be a really nice boon for a Boston offense that struggles to create good shots without Rondo on the court.

Bibby is a disaster one-on-one so we’ll see how aggressive Nate Robinson gets with him. Robinson looked like he was auditioning for the starting PG spot in the first quarter against the Raptors but didn’t look for his shot nearly as much in the second half. If he can break down Bibby off the dribble, everyone else could find themselves with good looks.

I’m torn on the size issue. The Hawks remain a relatively shrimpy group upfront. Shaquille O’Neal could swallow Horford if he chose to, Kevin Garnett has a few inches on Smith and Glen Davis should be able to work over the Hawks’ bench bigs. The question for Boston is: will they exploit this by forcing mismatches on pick and rolls and going aggressively into the post and attacking the offensive glass? My guess is the answer to the former is ‘yes’ and the latter two is ‘not enough’.

PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:

Horford. Have you seen him play this year? He’s becoming an offensive beast.

This season, Horford is:

  • leading the league in TS% (68.5) for players playing over 30 minutes a game
  • second in the league in PER at 27.70
  • coming off a monster 20-20 game against Dallas on Saturday.

Yikes.

PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:

The Hawks’ bench mob. Their frontline depth doesn’t make me go all Zaza and I like both Marquis Daniels and West’s chances of containing Jamal Crawford. Or Jordan Crawford. Or any other Crawford they want to run out there.

WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:

Sustained defensive effort and focus from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

An ability to generate high percentage shots with Rondo in street clothes.

The bench stretching out the lead in the second and fourth quarters.

PREDICTION:

A war. With Boston exploiting their size and depth and escaping with a victory.

Boston 100, Atlanta 97

  • Batman

    Josh Smith worries me too.

  • JP-

    Horford scares me now. I knew he'd be good coming out of college, and remember thinking that was who the Celtics would take with the 5th pick in the draft. I cant see the Celts winning this game, 2nd of a back-to-back, no Rondo, and most importantly, against an ATL team who loves to beat up on Boston.

  • I_Love_Green

    The Hawks hate us, The Celtics could care less. This a one-sided rivalry.

    98-90 Hawks. Too many things going against us tonight.

  • bigdave

    no wories their comming out focused tonight

    • complexity

      Everyone was hitting the panic button and the Celtics are going to drop 40 in the first quarter.

  • Kobe's Daddy

    I think, the celtics just like surprising people, like the last couple games. I have that weird feeling that just becasue i expect them to lose, they'll pull something out of their butt and win. But i think they'll lose lol.

    • Kobe's Daddy

      haha and whatta ya know, looks like a blowout

  • complexity

    They are going to kill it.

  • complexity

    By the way, I think the up/down voting is discouraging commenting.

  • Matt

    The offense looks silky smooth so far. Even Nate's oft-terrible transition threes are going in.

  • Zain

    Well, this isn't what I expected. But we'll take it!

    @Complexity: I don't if it discourages comments. Most people vote up their own comments anyways, quite silly.

    • complexity

      I think it may because people are going to, if they haven't, get tired of their controversial opinions being voted down. And if you look closely, people tend to vote down more than they do up.

      • I_Love_Green

        Mine get 1-upped automatically so don't think down on me.

        • I_Love_Green

          And I also have a stalker who 1-downs them every time.

  • Ryan DeGama

    Hawks totally no-showing this one.

  • Zain

    I don't know if it's JUST that. C's are moving a lot better, and way more active on the glass tonight. Baby stealing that rebound (coulda been a foul?) was great to see.

    • Ryan DeGama

      Perfect storm so far. Hawks disinterested defensively, C's crisp execution and on-target from the field.

  • lakershater13

    How do we play so poorly against toronto and the thunder without KD and Green then go to atlanta and have a 39-13 first quarter? Crazy stuff.

  • Morpheus

    What did i say….my prediction Cs come out tonight with intensity and effort

  • Morpheus

    Just goes to show,the difference between the Celtics playing to win and just going out there and….playing, then trying to win in the 4th quarter.

  • Morpheus

    Yeah can we change the voting thunmbs thing.Stupid you can vote for yourself…lol.

  • I_Love_Green

    Paul gettin into it on the board and the and 1.

  • TedL

    On one hand, I'm loving this. On the other hand, does this mean they're going to tank the game against the Nets on Wednesday?

    Damn, I hope not. I've actually got tix on Wednesday – the one game a year I get to go in person.

  • TedL

    Also – have you all been looking in on the Pacers-Heat game? Pacers up 15. Zow.

  • complexity

    Ok. So we lost by a combined like 8 points if that in our 4 losses this season. Now, that we blew out the hawks, are we the best team ever again?

    • I_Love_Green

      Sorry the Miami Heat are still in the league.

      • TedL

        Yeah. If they go 65-4 the rest of the way they'll break the Bulls' 72-win record. Bwahaha.

  • I_Love_Green

    Avery Bradley starts his dominance now!

  • Balagan

    Seems like this game will set a new record for most missed/blocked dunks.

  • Batman

    I'm literally crying from how much enjoyment I'm getting from this game
    Such a great game for us, after losing the to Bargnani Raptors and the Westbrook Thunder

  • I_Love_Green

    Damn I love Doc. Bradley airballs a shot, next time down the floor he travels, shoots anyways and still airballs. Then you could hear Doc shout "Avery! Keep your head up!"

  • Morpheus

    THANK YOU CELTICS,as a fan that's what you want to see,effort,competitiveness,intensity and Defense. I believe again.

  • Morpheus

    Oh yeah and i really wanted to see Bradley play tonight and it was gooood. Well his performance wasn't that great but hey i just wanted to see him play.

    SHAQ was BALLIN

    KG was BALLIN

    Nate was BALLIN

  • Zain

    Why! I love me some GINO TIME (away, or at home, don't matter!)

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