Celtics look to make it 2 in a row as they take on the Hawks

Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

The Celtics travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks for the first of 4 meetings this season.

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Boston Celtics (15-17) at Atlanta Hawks (20-11)
Saturday, January 5, 2013
7:00 PM ET
Game #33 Road Game #17
TV: CSNNE, SPSO, NBAC, NBA-LP 751(BOS)/752(ATL)
Radio: WEEI, WCNN
Philips Arena
Referees: Rodney Mott, Eli Roe, Scott Wall

Game Thread l Chat

Boston Celtics Tickets


The Celtics travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks for the first of 4 meetings this season. The Celtics are coming off an impressive win over the Pacers at home while the Hawks are coming off an 85-84 loss to Detroit at home. Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games. The Hawks are a league best 7-1 in back to back games. The Celtics.... not so much.

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.

Some of the faces have changed since last season. Joe Johnson is no longer there to catch on fire in the 4th quarter. Jason Collins was their starting center when the Celtics last played them in the regular season. The Celtics finally have their starting 5 back from last year and they looked good in the Pacers game but consistency has been a problem for them all year long.

The Hawks are a good road team with an 11-5 record at Phillips Arena. The Celtics have been the opposite on the road with a 5-11 record away from the Garden. The Celtics are now 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Hawks are 6-4 in their last 10.

The Celtics are back into 8th in the East (3rd in the Atlantic), one game ahead of the Sixers who lost last night. Atlanta is 3rd in the East (2nd in the Southeast), 2 games behind Miami at the top.

The Celtics showed that they are capable of playing tough defense from start to finish and playing a solid offensive game as well. The big question is whether or not they can find some consistency and do it again in the next game. They will need to if they want to beat this tough Atlanta team at home.

Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard

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Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

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Avery Bradley vs Lou Williams

Small Forward

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Paul Pierce vs Kyle Korver

Power Forward

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Brandon Bass vs Josh Smith

Center

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Kevin Garnett vs Al Horford

Celtics Reserves

Jared Sullinger

Jason Collins

Jeff Green

Courtney Lee

Jarvis Varnado

Leandro Barbosa

Jason Terry

Injuries

Chris Wilcox (thumb) out

Fab Melo (concussion) out


Red Claws

Kris Joseph

Hawks Reserves

John Jenkins

Zaza Pahculia

Ivan Johnson

Anthony Tolliver

Mike Scott

DeShawn Stevenson

Injuries

Anthony Morrow (hip) questionable

Johan Petro (flu) questionable

Devin Harris (foot) questionable

Key Matchups

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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. Smith is averaging 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game so Bass will need to be aggressive on defense to keep Smith from having a big game.

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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 played aggressively on both ends of the court against the Pacers. Hopefully he brings that same aggression to this game.

Honorable Mention

Kevin Garnett vs Al Horford

With KG's move back to center, he will be matched up with Al Horford. is playing very well, averaging 16.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. KG played a very aggressive and physical game against the Pacers and hopefully he will have enough in the tank to do the same vs Horford.

Keys to the Game

Defense - Defense is key to every win. The Celtics need to play tough team defense. We saw that the Celtics are capable of playing that type of defense in the Pacers game but can they do it 2 nights in a row? They have to guard the perimeter as the Hawks have good 3 point shooters who can kill a team from out there. They also have to defend the paint because players like Smith, Horford and Pachulia 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 as they rank 23rd in the league in that category. The Celtics showed against the Pacers, who are a great rebounding team, that when they put out the effort, they can hold their own on the boards.

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.

Bench Play - The Celtics got 39 points from their bench in their win over the Pacers. Lee and Barbosa shot the ball very well. Terry and Green still struggled with their shot and hopefully they can snap out of their slumps just as Lee seems to have done. Sully was just 2-7 but he got to the line for 6 free throws. He was once again aggressive on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds and that is important. The Celtics need production from their bench because the starters can't do it alone.

X-Factor

Back to Back on the Road

Both teams are playing in back to back games. The Hawks are a younger team and were at home for both games while the Celtics needed to travel after their win. Can the Celtics bring the same intensity two games in a row?


Official Report

Rodney Mott

Rodney Mott has officiated 923 regular season games and 14 playoff games during his 15-season NBA career. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Mott spent four years officiating in the CBA, eight years officiating in the Los Angeles Pro Am basketball league, three years officiating at the junior college level, and four years officiating high school in San Diego. In 2007, Mott was suspended without pay for 3 games for making an obscene gesture and inappropriate comment toward a fan. Mott challenged the charges and said that they used him as a scapegoat to take attention away from other issues, but the suspension stood.

The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Mott. One loss this season was to the Sixers and the officiating was good. The second loss was to the Spurs and the officiating was one sided with the Celtics shooting just 8 free throws to 20 for the Spurs. The Hawks are 1-0 this season and 6-4 with Mott in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 18-10.

Eli Roe

Eli Roe has officiated 390 regular season games during his first seven NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA staff, Roe officiated in the CBA, NBA Development League and WNBA. He officiated in the NBA D-League Finals for two years, the D-League playoffs for four years and the WNBA Playoffs for two years. At the collegiate level, Roe refereed in the SEC, ASUN and OVC conferences and numerous Division II and III, NAIA and Juco league games. He also worked in four Division I postseason conference tournaments.

Roe tends to be inconsistent in his calls and can make the calls favor a team on any given night. He is also inconsistent with block/charge calls. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Roe. Both games this season were well officiated. The Hawks are 1-0 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Roe. His home W/L record this season is 11-9.


Scott Wall

The son of former USA Basketball Director Bill Wall, Scott Wall has officiated 950 regular season games and seven playoff games over his 17 NBA seasons. In addition to his NBA experience, Wall has four years of officiating experience for USA Basketball, four years of collegiate officiating experience in the Atlantic Coast, Ohio Valley, and Trans America Athletic Conferences, and five years of high school officiating experience in Kansas and Alabama.

The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Wall. The loss was the first Nets game where they were allowed to be physical and the Celtics were not. They called a foul on a clearly clean steal that could have changed the outcome of the game. Wall was the ref that called the clothesline on Barbosa by Bogans a regular foul. The Hawks are 3-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Wall on the court. His home W/L record this season is 11-11.

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