There is some degree of respectful acknowledgment of the Atlanta Hawks as a "dangerous" team and not wanting to take them lightly. In fact, Jackie MacMullen points out that Horford and Smith looked like they were already getting back into rhythm as the game wore on. However, that's not the main reason they Celtics want to get this over with on Tuesday.
Mark that down as Reason 1,293 for Boston to fly to Atlanta and close out this series on Tuesday. Some other obvious reasons include providing their 30-something core with some much-needed rest. The walking wounded now includes Pierce (knee), Ray Allen (ankle), Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) and Avery Bradley (shoulder).
You know this team is old when the rallying call for putting a team away is "let's go home and get some rest!"
"Obviously any time you can get out of a series quicker, it’s beneficial to the team moving forward," Allen said. "Any time you have injuries where you can keep guys off their feet and you can really work on chemistry, timing and some things you want to do better offensively, it’s always a benefit." It’s even more of a benefit to a team that relies so heavily on players 34, 35 and 36 years of age. Even the 26-year-old point guard knows that.
It obviously isn't just rest. This team is banged up. As I've mentioned before, they won't get any sympathy cards from other teams in the playoffs, but they do need some time to recover.
He actually felt Rondo’s 34 minutes of domination were better than Friday’s triple-double in 49 minutes. “Yeah, because it was needed more,” Rivers said. “I mean, we had a lot of stuff going on. You may not have noticed, or noticed, but we had a lot of things going on on our bench today with bodies. You know, MP’s (Mickael Pietrus) hamstring, we had to take him out. (Avery Bradley) shoulder, Paul’s knee, Ray’s (Allen) foot. The whole game you just felt like – I mean, you just kept looking down there: was there enough guys to put in the game? So, I was really happy that everybody kept their focus through all the stuff that (trainer) Ed Lacerte had to do on the bench today.”
These Celtics sometimes have a tendency to let up when they should be pushing the gas pedal to the floor. You can almost sense from the comments that the veterans are trying to talk themselves out of such a letdown.
It has only been 4 games and the veterans already sound banged up and tired. Thankfully the games are nice and spread out to accommodate TV schedules and travel but they could use all the rest they can get.
Near the end of the regular season Doc made a deal with Pierce and Garnett that if they won the next game they could have the following game off. This is very similar to that. Doc needs a big effort from them and the reward is some extra rest. Let's hope that it works out that way.