Celtics Look to Go Up 2-0 on Hawks

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Atlanta Hawks (0-1) at Boston Celtics (1-0)
Postseason Game #2 – Home Game #2
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
8:00 PM ET
TNT,   CSN HD
TD Banknorth Garden
 
Chat    l   Game Thread   

Hawks Blogs:      Hawks Basketblog      Impending Firestorm   Hawks Locker   Hotlanta Hawks    

The Hawks come back into the TD Banknorth Garden for game two of this first round series.  After Mike Bibby's statements about the Celtics fans being bandwagon jumpers,  expect the Garden to be even louder for this game.  Mike Bibby can also expect to hear boos from the Celtics faithful in response to his remarks. 
 
 In the first game, the Celtics handled the Hawks easily.   The Hawks were able to come close a couple of times in the first half but the Celtics came out with an 11-4 run to start the 3rd and never looked back, and coasted to a 23 point win.    None of the starters played more than 34 minutes in the first game and keeping their minutes down in this series will pay dividends in the next series against either the Cavs or Wizards.   
 
We can expect the Hawks to make some adjustments to try to beat the Celtics defense after shooting just 38% in the first game. The Hawks 3 best players had poor shooting nights with  Mike Bibby shooting 2-10,   Josh Smith shooting 3-10 and  Joe Johnson shooting 7-22.  Each of these players will look to rebound with a better game and so the Celtics defense needs to be ready for the adjustments they make in their offense.  The one area the Celtics need to improve on is rebounding as the Hawks beat them on the glass 41-40 and they had 3 more offensive rebounds than the Celtics.  They were able to get 2nd and 3rd chance shots because of those rebounds.  
 

Probable Starting Lineups
PG:    Rajon Rondo vs  Mike Bibby
SG:    Ray Allen vs Joe Johnson
SF:    Paul Pierce vs Marvin Williams
PF:    Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith
C:      Kendrick Perkins vs Al Horford 
 
Injury Report
    Scott Pollard, ankle, out      
    Speedy Claxton, knee, out
 
Key Matchups
 
This was a key matchup in game 1 and will be a key match up in game 2.   Rondo clearly came out on top in the first game and out-played Bibby on both ends of the court in his very first playoff game.   Bibby is a veteran, though and will come back determined to play better and Rondo will need to elevate his game as well.   

  Vs 
Al Horford had a very strong game and is one of the reasons that the Hawks were able to stay in the game as long as they did. Perk got into early foul trouble and that limited him in the first half, but he had a strong second half.   Hopefully Perk can stay out of foul trouble and keep Horford off the boards. 

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith
Smith is one of the Hawks best players but he had an off game due to foul trouble and allergy problems in game 1.  The paper said he had an allergic reaction to something he ate at the hotel he was staying at.  (When I read that, I thought of the movie Celtic Pride and some well meaning Celtics fan slipping something into his food.)    Smith is a very athletic player and can block shots and defend along with grabbing rebounds and scoring inside.  KG needs to make him work on both ends of the court and maybe get him in foul trouble again. 

Keys to the game:
Rebound
   The Celtics were out rebounded 41-40 in the first game and allowed the Hawks to get second and third chance baskets.   The Celtics need to be more aggressive on the boards.  There is an old adage that says, "Offense sells tickets, defense wins games and rebounding wins championships."  I think this is because much of rebounding is effort and the team that wins the rebounding war has put out the most effort. 

Don't Underestimate the Hawks   The Celtics had an easy time beating the Hawks in game one but they can't take them for granted.  They have to take a lesson from their last playoff appearance where they won the first game against the Pacers and then lost the series.   The Hawks will make adjustments and the Celtics have to be ready for that. 

Be Aggressive  The Celtics need to come out and be aggressive from start to finish.  Even with a big lead, they can't let up.  The Pistons had a big lead on the Sixers and let up and ended up losing the game.  The Celtics need to come out strong and play hard for 48 minutes.   I expect the Hawks to come out strong and the Celtics need to match that intensity.  The Celtics need to be aggressive taking the ball to the hoop and aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds.
 
Defense  Defense becomes more important in the playoffs and even though the Celtics have won with defense all season, they need to take that defense to another level now that the playoffs are here.  They can't allow second chance points and they need to limit easy baskets. It is defense that wins in the playoffs.   

X-Factor
Bench Play
The Celtics bench out scored the Hawks bench 36-22 in the first game.  If the Celtics bench continues to produce,  they will be hard to beat.   As Marc Spears said, when he is more famous than the players on the Hawks' bench, you know they are in trouble.  
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