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Game One: Celtics (0-0) @ Hawks (0-0) Open Thread

 

Boston at Atlanta
Philips Arena
7 P.M. ET
TNT/CSNNE

Offensive Efficiency:

Boston: 98.9 points/100 possessions (24th)
Atlanta: 102.4 points/100 possessions (14th)

Defensive Efficiency:

Boston: 95.5 points/100 possessions (2nd)
Atlanta: 98.6 points/100 possessions (6th)

Probably Hawks Starters: Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and a mystery big, the identity of which Larry Drew refuses to disclose because he is profoundly sneaky.

Injury Report: Ray Allen traveled with the Celtics but remains a question mark for game one. Al Horford is out. Zaza Pachulia is questionable, but beautiful, no matter what they say.

THUMBNAIL
The Celtics face the (1958 NBA Champion) Hawks in a rematch of the 2008 first round series that inexplicably went six brutal games before the Celtics realized they were way better than the Hawks and crushed them in game seven. Four years down the road, the principles on each side of the ledger are effectively the same, although Al Horford and Ray Allen may both be on the sidelines as we tip off tonight and both teams are struggling with questions that have plagued them since they last tangled.

The Hawks still haven’t shown this era’s core is capable of taking down an elite opponent (Otis Smith’s Magic don’t count) and the Celtics may, like Georgia native and presumptive Hawks fan Jimmy Carter, go down as a one-termer if they’re unable to add a second title in the next two months. One of these things is a greater concern than the other, but both teams enter the playoffs looking to define themselves as something more than middle-seeds.

PREGAME ANALYSIS
Most Celtics fans seem to regard this series as a warmup, with Boston fated to dispatch Atlanta and move onto the second round to take on the now-emotionally-crippled Bulls. This is what I expect to happen as well but as Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert taught us yesterday, seasons change on bended knees, so the Celtics are best to come out crisp and vicious and end this series quickly.

Problem is, that may not be so easy.

Even more than the Celtics, the Hawks are here for the slow jams. They were the eighth slowest team in the league this season (Boston was ninth) and a top-6 defense so this is gonna be a grinder of a series. Halfcourt execution is critical on the offensive end for both teams and turnovers that lead to easy points could decide games. These are areas the Celtics are traditionally vulnerable, although they’ve proven capable of reducing their turnover numbers in playoff years past.

This first game should be a feeling out process. What exactly will Drew do with his damaged frontline and which matchups will Doc Rivers try and exploit? If there’s anything to watch tonight, it’s what kinds of shots are both teams getting. If the Celtics are able to force the Hawks into long jumpers by Johnson and Smith, and keep Teague contained to the perimeter, they’ll win easily. On the other hand if they don’t force the issue and attack the basket, via KG in the post, Pierce and Rondo off the dribble and Bradley cutting baseline, they could struggle to score. The best shot, however good we all feel about it, will usually not be a Brandon Bass jumper. Especially early in the shot clock.

Another assumption is that we’re headed for a rough series. Consider these morning quotes:

Joe Johnson: “We are down a few bigs so that means us guards and forwards, our play has to get a little nasty.”

KG: “Rararrarraaarrrrrrgh!”

PREDICTION

A tough, physical game that Boston ekes out down the stretch.

Boston 85 Atlanta 79

  • ripsonics

    The door my friends, just got a lot bigger for our Celtics. Breaks my heart that rose is out, but I think I will get over it if banner 18 comes to bean town.

    Starts today. Send a message, and get a Win

    Go C's

    • ElRoz

      let's just concentrate on game 1 of round one…and relax about the banner.

      What I want is for everyboyd to forget about Ray Allen, his incapacity is now a distraction. Boston has enough w/o Ray – Bradley, Dooling, Pietrus – these guys play better defense than Ray.

      The only thing I want to hear about Ray is if he is playing; otherswise I'm not interested.

  • felix

    somewhere deep in the tyrolean alps in a wellness hotel, a swiss celtic fanboy is getting very very very excited…..it's green and white all the way baby!!
    on another note, i feel very bad for shumpert and rose….this should not happen to anyone.

  • High Rollers

    I think if Ray's gets through his pregame routine he should play in tonight's game. Maybe ten, fifteen minutes playing time, somewhere in the middle of the game. He doesn't want to the hurt the team, but it's better for the team to know exactly what it has and what it doesn't, from the start. If he looks terrible, if he's moving in molasses, then play him no more than 5-7 minutes. Maybe no more than 5. But at least try.

    • ElRoz

      yeah…then he'll have complications and miss the next 4-10 games…let's forget about Ray and concentrate on the guys they have – Bradley, Dooling, Pietrus – all are better defensive players and all are ok when it comes to hitting jumpers (they are not Ray of course).

  • I_Love_Green

    Its only right that these hall of famers; Paul, Kevin, and Ray, end their last season together the same way they ended their first season. With a championship. And it all starts today.

    LETS GOOOO CELTICS!!!

  • hansgruber

    I think Ray except for in the conference finals should play just a little bit at the beginning at the end. Most of his minutes could be in the 4th as they could use him as a closer. I just hope the success of winning without him in the regular season translates to the playoffs.

  • Tom

    I did my own 5 on 5 well actually 6 on 6 including the bench on this series! i think its a good read and i tell u why the celts will win! http://nbawagers.com/2012/04/player-matchups-for-

    • CelticsBIG3

      Horford isn't playing and Jermaine O'Neal hasn't played in months dude.

      • someguyinsac

        Jermaine who?

  • skeeds

    LETS DO THIS ALLREADY!!! Celtic PRIDE!

    on a sidenote, I hope someone takes out the Lakers. I'd hate for us to make it to the Finals again, and run into them. That is one HARD team to play without a center. Watching them vs the Nuggets right now, Gasol and Bynum are playing on another level. Literally another level, like one floor up.

    • ElRoz

      don't worry about LA – their tank is empty, not juts physical but mental…watch them towards the end of the first round, they will be spent.

      I expect them to go out similar to last year – mental breakdowns and second round elimination.

    • hansgruber

      You're telling me. I'd be so bummed out if they ran into them again. I mean I'd love to meet them again and get revenge and actually win the championship against them this time but the chances of that are very slim.

  • I_Love_Green

    Seriously though I want every Celtics fan to just enjoy this last ride. We're very lucky to have had a team like this the last 5 years, and now the era is coming to an end. Just soak it all in, and whether we lose in the first round, or win the championship, just be happy to have witnessed these 3 legends play together.

    • Morpheus

      Post of the day brother. I am and will be happy whatever the outcome is with this last run with the big 3.

  • asdf

    Yes back to what the Celtics are best at, playoff basketball.

  • CelticsBIG3

    Lets go, got my playoff towel from game 7 against the hawks in 08' on display! Need to get in there and grab this win!!! Game one is always huge.

  • tomrod

    Rondo playing like its the regular season. Dishing for jumpers is not gonna get you a W in atlanta.

  • hansgruber

    The Hawks have already knocked me back to reality. Celtics are going to go anywhere playing like this.

  • Lantrell Walker

    Everyone just needs to calm down a bit, I don't like what I'm seeing either but basketball is a game of runs & the C's have plenty of time left to get back into it, they just gotta get settled in & work the jitters through their systems out. Don't forget, it ain't about how you get hit, it's about how you get hit & how you bounce back from it.

    #WeBelieveIn18

    • Anthony

      Agreed. Atlanta is not going to keep shooting that well and if they do, then they deserve to win the game. I'm certain this game is going to come down to the final minutes of the 4th quarter and the better team (Boston) will prevail.

      That was a beautiful drive and pass by Rondo to AB for a strong finish.

  • cezsays

    At some point today, Ray Allen, after warming up, decided he couldn't go in game one of the PLAYOFFS.
    I bet that's pretty serious.

  • cezsays

    KG is dirty! In a really "I ain't tryin to hurt nobody" kinda way.

    And this team at least claims to take after him in every aspect of his game. If they do, then I'd hate to play the Celtics. I really would.

  • WTF

    The Hawks are beating the shit out of the Celtics…Where is the intensity and urgency? You don't see it in the C's players and you don't see it on Doc's face…

  • WTF

    18 pts in 1st, 9 pts so far in the 2nd, Atlanta is shooting 50%….way to lose…

    • janos

      You must wait see, be patient and celtics reward you. If bitch and cry, there room for you purple gold forum, alway.

      • WTF

        Wait and see what? With the efforts or lack of so far, we are losing. Play the fxxxxxx defense, that's the only way we are going to win games.

        • janos

          Rondos will make you believe

          • WTF

            It's three quarters and there is no improvement in either offense or defense. Rando has not been able to get this team going yet, what makes you think he'll get it done in the last 12 minutes?

          • someguyinsac

            Faith in our team, till the clock reads all zeroes.

          • WTF

            Now it's great, Rondo not only potentially caused us a game but may get suspended. What is he doing? It's only 4 pts…

  • janos

    Rondos is shake off, dust. Time come back, no problem.

  • ElRoz

    wow..I think the celtics hub had it wrong: Josh Smith has KG's number…not KG Josh Smtih's…

    the Celtic starters – so far – are getting their arses whooped by Atlanta….a sad display – so far.

  • someguyinsac

    Well, Rondo getting tossed didn't and I'm hoping they don't suspend him because he tripped.

    • CelticsBIG3

      he sorta tripped but he puffed his chest out at him. can't do that

      • someguyinsac

        I know, I'm just trying to be positive about it.

    • someguyinsac

      *help*

  • CelticsBIG3

    really rondo

    • Anthony

      I could be wrong but I think it's the same ref that Rondo threw the ball at and receive the 2 game suspension. Secondly, Rondo was already upset at the previous call. It would really be crazy if that ref (Mark Davis I believe) was officiating the game which DWade pulled down and dislocated Rondo's elbow. Damn, I hate the refs.

  • someguyinsac

    I blame Marv Albert's rug for this loss. ;)

  • High Rollers

    Well, with the way that game went in the second half… feels like a Celtic playoff series now!

    Not for the faint of heart.

    • CelticsBIG3

      That was a really stupid move from Rondo. That was like Rasheed Wallace stupid.

      • High Rollers

        Agreed. Hopefully the league doesn't make him wait to long to atone.

        • High Rollers

          That should be too, not to.

          Anyway, RR played a heck of a game. At least he brought the vigor, even if it overflowed at the end there.

  • hansgruber

    I love how the Hawks have one of the worst home crowds during the regular season but come playoff time it's like the god damn crowd for the Montreal Canadiens. Step it up in game 2, C's.

  • I_Love_Green

    No effort to start with on defense, and shots didn't fall.

    On to game 2 now.

  • LACelticFan

    Well we played some defense in the second half….giving up only what 33 points. Now gonna be harder w/o Rajon, but Pierce can handle the duties, he has before. But KG going 1-9 in the first half was big. but its only one game.

    • ElRoz

      KG finished with 20 pts and 12 boards….Bass was absent….Stiemsma had more boards than Bass.

      Pierce and Bradley had poor games…..but then again, so did Joe Johnson.

      Rondo HAS TO GET MORE MATURE as far as technical fouls.

      • High Rollers

        I like the way Doc responded in the post-game. He may not have seen the video yet, but it doesn't hurt that he stuck up for his guy.

      • Mark

        I can understand what you're saying about Rondo BUT there was no reason for the refs to give that first T to Rondo. Not in that close of a PLAYOFF game. Period. The ref escalated the situation by not keeping his emotion in check. I'll grant that Rondo, and every other NBAer needs to keep their cool, BUT the expectation is the player won't so the ref SHOULD. Mark Davis, the ref, lost his cool to prove he had bigger balls than Rondo. I don't forgive Rondo but the refs get paid to be the cool and level headed out of all individuals associated with the NBA during a basketball game.

        • High Rollers

          True, Mark. Fingers crossed the league considers the whole context.

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