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Game 25/82: Celtics (20-4) @ Hawks (16-10) Open Thread

 

J-Smoove once wore the green, y'all.

Atlanta @ Boston

TD Garden

8:00 PM

CSNNE/TNT

Offensive Efficiency
Boston: 107.2 points/100 possessions (7th)
Atlanta: 105.6 points/100 possessions (12th)

Defensive Efficiency
Boston: 96.3 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Atlanta: 103.6 points allowed/100 possessions (16th)

Probable Atlanta starters: Mike Bibby (PG), Maurice Evans (SG), Marvin Gaye Williams, Jr. (SF), Josh Smith (PF), Alfred Joel Horford Reynoso (C)

View from opposing bench: Hoopinion

Thumbnail: Those of you who enjoy poetic symmetry have a lot to look forward to tonight. Three weeks ago the Celtics bludgeoned the Hawks after having lost two games in a row. I was recently told by a reliable source that they haven’t lost since. Two weeks ago, meanwhile, the Hawks beat the Knicks, who then tore off an eight-game winning streak during which they developed a rivalry with the Celtics without ever actually playing them. So we can glean from this that playing the Hawks earns you a winning streak. The Hawks are much like Good Luck Chuck in this respect.

Since we last visited the Hawks in Atlanta, they lost Joe Johnson for four to six weeks to an elbow injury. Johnson, based on his contract, is the best player on the team and will be the best player in the world in 2015. The Hawks have replaced him with Maurice Evans, who you may remember from his time with the Lakers and Magic or more likely not at all. Jamal Crawford is also not playing.

But the injuries don’t necessarily kill the Hawks thanks to Larry Drew’s new motion offense, which emphasizes ball movement and reduces the number of isolations for Johnson that dominated the Hawks playbook in recent years. Weirdly, rather than taking some time to adjust to the new offense as some might have predicted, the Hawks began the season 6-0 and only in later weeks started to play inconsistently. In their most recent contest they were absolutely hammered by the Pistons, for example, but managed to beat Orlando a week earlier. Will Atlanta’s lackluster play be compensated for by an emotionally drained Celtics squad, the ravages of a back-to-back, the continued absence of Shaq and the recently announced absence of Rajon Rondo? The answers might be after the jump.

WHAT THE HAWKS DO WELL

Make statistically ill-advised shots. The Hawks take the fourth-most long twos in the league and convert them at the second-best rate, 44.5%. A potential point of concern for a Celtics defense that generally encourages shots from that distance. In terms of production stats, I can’t find a single category where Atlanta finishes in the top eight other than the alphabet, which they pretty much dominate.

WHAT THE HAWKS DO POORLY

Plan for the future. Sorry for beating a dead shooting guard horse here, but the Hawks have about as much money tied up in 34-year-old Joe Johnson in 2015-2016 as the Celtics do for the entire 2012-2013 season. They’re both about 25 million dollars. (Hoopshype).

The good news in Atlanta is the Hawks aren’t terrible at anything statistically.

PLAYERS THAT MAKE ME WORRY

Al Horford. He’s playing out of position on offense because he’s undersized for center, and he’s playing out of position on defense because he’s the team’s best perimeter defender.

Watch this video I can’t embed for some reason in which he acts as Steve Nash’s primary cover while Mike Bibby stands harmlessly out of bounds. And Nash doesn’t even owe him ten thousand dollars. There’s a strong possibility that we’ll see Horford cover Robinsons, Pierces, and Erdens alike this evening, and there’s an equally strong possibility that he’ll cover them all well. (Thanks to Bret Lagree at Hoopinion for the awesome video).

Josh Smith. An absolutely terrifying talent. He’s continued his statistical ascent this year in pretty much all major categories. Like Horford, he’s positionally ambiguous and can guard pretty much anyone. But most importantly: do you think he and Rondo have kept in touch since the day they played video games at Derrick Rose’s loft?

PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY

The small forwards. Marvin Williams, Maurice Evans, Damien Wilkins. You won’t see anyone giving a catchy nickname to this group anytime soon. Hey, did you know Damien Wilkins is Dominique Wilkins’s nephew? You did? Well you’re a very knowledgeable basketball fan.

WHAT WE WANT TO SEE

Basically the same thing we saw three weeks ago. The Celtics evacuated the Hawks from Philips Arena with a 39-point first quarter in their last matchup, the C’s highest-scoring quarter of the year, so it would be nice to demoralize the Hawks early again. I’d also like to see Semih play something recognizable as basketball and Nate play as well as he has in past games with Rondo out.

One monster caveat, though: the starters played pretty heavy minutes last night, and given Doc’s preference for resting his dogs over winning basketball games, extended time for the bench could keep this one close.

PREDICTION

Eh, not that close. C’s 92, Hawks 86

  • complexity

    Going to be interesting if the C's come out with extreme confident and get a huge lead early or fatigued from last night.

  • NHBluesMan

    does his jersey in the pic say ATLANTA Celtics?

    • hdavenport

      Yeah, it's a high school club team. Dwight Howard (I cropped him out of the picture) and Derrick Favors also played on it.

  • Bostafari

    Great Pregame thread today, I laughed too many times, you have talent Hayes.

  • Green Man

    let's go celts!! all the best here from the philippines! it's 9 am over here! am still shivering from that great play against the knickers! :o)

  • Green Man

    Semih!!

  • Patrick

    C's look tiiiiired. Ray ray with the airball?

  • TedL

    Josh Smith. So much talent, doing so little with it.

  • Green Man

    i love this NBA premium channel here in Manila. No commercials and you can hear Marv Albert and Kevin McHale cussing. hahaha! go celts!! keep the streak alive

  • TedL

    Kind of love Nate Robinson's bird dance. If he was playing for anybody else I'd hate it.

  • Green Man

    Wow! Baby and Nate deserve a raise next season! Hope the celts can sign 'em again!

  • Green Man

    Did he always do that bird dance as a Knick?

    • TedL

      Don't know, but ever since the dance, he's been brain dead.

      • Green Man

        bird brain. hehe

  • Green Man

    Babyyyy!!!

  • TedL

    2 minutes left, 14 point lead – it's Gino time!

  • Green Man

    there ya go ray-ray!!! Nail in ze coffin!! 12 game-win streak!!! yea!

  • Green Man

    KG looks dead tired

  • kricky

    Great game. Short-handed on a back to back tonight but everyone contributed. Pierce with 10 assists. Baby huge. Ray and KG solid. Nate with mostly good play. Marquise with some good buckets. Semi not playing like a stiff and finishing strong. Even Gody had a couple of jumpers off the bench.

    One of the best all around team performances so far this season.

    • Patrick

      Except for Bradley who got smoked. He clearly needs some time in the league before he is ready.

  • JCP

    I think I'm liking the slow-start, strong-finish Celtics better than the fast-start, try-to-lose-the-game-finish Celtics we were seeing at the beginning of the season.

    • TedL

      Plus 1,000,000.

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