Celtics take on Hawks looking to end losing streak

David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

The Celtics travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks in the second of 4 meetings this season.

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Boston Celtics (20-22) at Atlanta Hawks (22-18)
Friday, January 25, 2013
7:30 PM ET
Game #43 Road Game #21
TV: CSNNE, SPSO, NBA-LP 753(BOS)/754(ATL)
Radio: WEEI, WCNN
Philips Arena
Referees: Not available

Game Thread l Chat

Boston Celtics Tickets



The Celtics travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks in the second of 4 meetings this season. The Celtics are in the midst of a 5 game losing streak and after going 3 games above .500 and are now back to 2 games under .500. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games. The Hawks have a day of rest.

Boston won the series 2-1 last season but all 3 games were close. The Celtics won by 3 points and by 2 points in overtime while the Hawks won their game by 5. Every game between these two teams seems to end up being chippy. There is no love lost between them, that is for sure. The Celtics won the first meeting in Atlanta 89-81.

The Hawks have several players who have been out injured. 3 are listed as game time decisions: Harris, Horford and Pachulia. Morrow and Lou Williams are out. Williams torched the Celtics for 28 points in their first meeting. It will definitely be easier if Horford and Pachulia are out, but players have a way of coming back just in time to play the Celtics.

The Hawks are a good home team with a 14-7 record at Phillips Arena. The Celtics have been the opposite on the road with a 7-13 record away from the Garden. The Celtics are now 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Hawks are 4-6 in their last 10, mostly due to a flurry of injuries.

Atlanta is in the 6th spot in the East, 4 games ahead of the Celtics, who are still in 8th, in spite of the 5 game losing streak. The Celtics effort against the Knicks was encouraging, but they still have a long way to go. Bringing effort on a consistent basis would be a good start.

Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard

vs

Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

vs

Avery Bradley vs Kyle Korver

Small Forward

vs

Paul Pierce vs DeShawn Stevenson

Power Forward

vs

Brandon Bass vs Josh Smith

Center

vs

Kevin Garnett vs Ivan Johnson

Celtics Reserves

Jared Sullinger

Jason Collins

Jeff Green

Courtney Lee

Leandro Barbosa

Jason Terry

Injuries

Chris Wilcox (thumb) day to day


Red Claws

Fab Melo

Hawks Reserves

John Jenkins

Anthony Tolliver

Mike Scott

Johan Petro

Jannero Pargo

Injuries

Anthony Morrow (hip) out

Lou Williams (knee) out

Zaza Pachulia (achilles) game time decision

Devin Harris (ankle) game time decision

Al Horford (calf) game time decision

Key Matchups

vs

Brandon Bass vs Josh Smith

Smith is a very athletic and quick power forward and Brandon must box out and keep Smith off the boards along with slowing him down on offense. Smith is an average defender, though and so Bass should be able to get his shot off, although Bass hasn't been looking for his shot all that much. Smith is averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game so Bass will need to be aggressive on defense to keep Smith from having a big game. Smith is coming off a 30 point night in a win over the Bobcats.

vs

Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague

Teague is a good point guard and is averaging 13.2 points and 6.7 assists per game. Both are quick and both see the court well and so this should be a fun matchup to watch. Rondo is coming off yet another triple double vs the Knicks. Hopefully he brings that same aggression to this game.

Honorable Mention

Kevin Garnett vs Ivan Johnson

With KG's move back to center, he will be matched up with Ivan Johnson, who is a very tough and physical player. KG is playing the second night in a row and so it would be great if Wilcox would finally be back.


Keys to the Game

Defense - Defense is key to every win. The Celtics need to play tough team defense. The Celtics are capable of playing that type of defense but they are very inconsistent? They have to guard the perimeter as the Hawks have good 3 point shooters like Korver who can kill a team from out there. They also have to defend the paint because players like Smith, Horford and Johnson can get to the hoop and score there, especially on tip ins.

Rebound - The Celtics must make an effort to go after rebounds. They must box out and prevent tip ins and to prevent the Hawks from getting second chance baskets. The Hawks are a good rebounding team, but not great.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to go after rebounds and loose balls. They must be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers. They also have to be aggressive on defense and get stops. We saw all of this in the Pacers game. Hopefully they will bring it again in this game.

Find The Offense - The Celtics haven't been shooting the ball well at all. Pierce's shot has no arc on it. KG has been shooting a terrible percentage. Jason Terry hasn't been able to hit the broad side of a barn. Bass has been very passive and hasn't looked for his shot this season. Jeff Green is very streaking and inconsistent. Every one of those players must somehow shake off their slumps and find their shot. They shot just 40% against the Knicks and a pitiful 16% from beyond the arc. If those shots aren't falling they MUST go to the hoop and not continue to settle for jumpers.

X-Factor

Back to Back on the Road vs Desperation

The Celtics are playing in back to back games and are on the road. This usually isn't a formula for success. But facing a 6 game losing streak should have them feeling a bit desperate and that might give them just enough to pull out the win.

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