8 P.M. ET
Boston: 104.3 points/100 possessions (t-16th)
Atlanta: 103.6 points/100 possessions (20th)
Boston: 97.6 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Atlanta: 103.9 points allowed/100 possessions (t-14th)
View From The Opposing Bench: Hoopinion
Probable Atlanta starters: Kirk Hinrich (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Josh Smith (SF), Al Horford (PF), Jason Collins (C)
Thumbnail: The Hawks provide a nice test for the Celtics after their breakout against the Spurs last night. The renewed positive vibes surrounding this team might not last more than 24 hours unless the C’s can get a win on this back-to-back, on the road. And we all know how that’s gone this season. What’s more, the Celtics’ key guys went long minutes to secure the win last night: Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen both played 41, Paul Pierce 37 and Glen Davis 32. Only foul-troubled Kevin Garnett came in sub-30.
So, while this is a key game for playoff seeding, a loss probably has little predictive value for the future. Just something to keep in mind if the guys look suddenly worn down again tonight.
On the upside, the Hawks are 0-2 against the Celtics this season.
WHAT THE HAWKS DO WELL:
Recede into the distance. Once a team on the upswing, the Hawks have committed themselves to the NBA’s version of purgatory: they have a few strong players, a plus .500 record and are doomed to a series of early round playoff exits by virtue of their unexciting competence. The Hawks, then, scare no one.
That noted, they’re a very scary team for Boston tonight. They’ve strung together three straight wins, and if they’re smart, they’ll run Boston up and down the court (off turnovers, perhaps) until the Celtics drop from exhaustion.
The C’s need to control tempo tonight and hit their mid-range jumpers (calling Ray!), which is what I would guess the offense is going to amount to. If the shots fall, it could be enough to slink out of Atlanta with a win. Which would be odd in that you rarely slink anywhere in triumph.
WHAT THE HAWKS DO POORLY:
Work the interior. The Hawks are bottom-5 in offensive rebounding rate, attempts at the rim and free throw rate. This would normally be encouraging but for opposing teams, the Celtics offer an enticing squishiness in the middle right now shorn Shaquille O’Neal and Nenad Krstic.
If the Hawks don’t go at Boston inside, they’ll be left to shoot mid-range jumpers which they do often (3rd in the league in attempts) and well (2nd in makes). I realize this is a strength of the Hawks and belongs in that section of the preview but I will not be put in a box.
Not by CelticsHub.
Not by anyone.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Anyone with fresh legs. The Hawks have only played once since Sunday. Could be trouble.
Anyone with tired legs. I believe we’ve covered this.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
I’ve just noted the entire Atlanta team makes me worry. So, who’s left to NOT worry about?
Let’s say Carlos Arroyo, who was on the business end of a DNP-CD last night. And Von Wafer, who could probably be extended beyond the 2 minutes he got. And Sasha Pavlovic, who played only 4 minutes.
There you go. I am not worried about the Arroyo-Wafer-Pavlovic big three. They will dominate.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
Here’s a question for you. Would you rather see the Celtics play a brilliant game like they did last night in San Antonio and lose because the Hawks played out of their minds OR would you rather the Celtics reverted to their sluggish recent vintage and won, because the Hawks were even worse?
I’ll take the win.
Boston 85 Atlanta 81