ATLANTA, GA - MAY 01: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics drives against Jason Collins #34 of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Celtics are in firm control of the series after their game 2 win, but don't let that fool you. Momentum is only a word, and it can turn on a dime. Perhaps we should be worried about the game on Friday night. After all, the Celtics seem to play their best when the chips are down - and conversely, not so well when they are not.
"We've gone down this road before with injuries, and we played well [without Rondo] in that stretch," Rivers said of the 13 games his team has played without Rondo this season. "This is a resilient basketball team; that's what we are. That's what we've been all year. "Sometimes it takes this stuff -- for whatever reason -- to snap us into the right place. So I don't know if we're going to win or lose [Tuesday], but I can guarantee you we'll be ready to play."
And in the other corner, you've got a Hawks team that has taken their licks and might just come out and play like they've got nothing to lose.
The Hawks’ own Bizarro credo: They never take the easy way in, and they never take the easy way out. They confound supporters and detractors _ at the same time! If you were among the few who liked the Hawks’ chances in this series coming in, you shouldn’t dismiss them now. They did, let’s note, beat the Celtics with Rajon Rondo [stats] on the floor. It was only after he was suspended that they wobbled. They should have Smith back for Game 4 and maybe Pachulia for Game 5, and any Game 7 would still be played here. Even after the ritual collapse of Game 2, it would be no great shock if the Hawks won this thing.
Everything seems lined up for the Celtics to keep things going, but don't discount the fact that it could go the other way.
If they play with the air of entitlement we saw in the opening quarter of Game 1, there could be trouble. That opening stretch is the main reason the Celtics get an all-expenses-paid trip back to Atlanta for a Game 5 next week. Taking the Hawks lightly again will prolong a series the Celts would be wise to end as expeditiously as possible. It could even — those in sneakers need to know — be the cause of an early exit from this postseason party.
And no, I'm not trying to reverse-jinx this team on purpose. ...no really. Ok, maybe a little.