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Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks: Brief Preview

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Boston Celtics
Record: 66-16
Last Ten Games: 9-1
Points scored per game: 100.5
Points allowed per game: 90.3
Pace Factor: 90.9 (19th of 30)
Offensive Ranking: (9th of 30)
Defensive Ranking: (1st of 30)

Atlanta Hawks
Record: 37-45
Last Ten Games: 5-5
Points scored per game: 98.2
Points allowed per game: 100.0
Pace Factor: 91.1 (18th of 30)
Offensive Ranking: 106.9 (16th of 30)
Defensive Ranking: (18th of 30)

Hat tip to for info on the Celtics and the Hawks.

Season Series: The first time they met was early in the season (Boston’s fourth game) and the Celtics buzz saw was in full effect. Kevin Garnett finished with 27 points, 19 rebounds, 6 boards and 3 assists. In the words of Gob from Arrested Development, "Come on!" This was Boston’s easiest victory of the three. Their second meeting saw Garnett finally put together a KG like game after returning from the abdominal strain, as he dropped 20 and 16 and the C’s won by 10. It should be noted that Paul Pierce was officially in the "best basketball of his career" phase. Boston earned the season sweep in the finale thanks in large point to Sam Cassell. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. On the one hand there are few statements more powerful than beating a team on its home court while playing the second team in the crunch against said team’s starters. It had to demoralize Hawks fans to see the Celtics first team having a ball on the bench while Cassell hit dagger threes and did his dance. Now that’s arrogance. But in the back of mind I can’t think of any better motivation for the Hawks. Well besides pride, contracts and the desire to win.

Last Time They Met in the Playoffs: Have they ever met? Not that I can remember. Oh wait. The following happened:



Story Line That Has the Potential to Get Old Fast: Doc Rivers played in Atlanta for 8 seasons. But based upon the whole A.J. Hawk/Brady Quinn experience from a few years ago I think the fact that Eddie House married Mike Bibby’s sister might have legs. There I said it. Let’s move on. A much better story is the time House dropped 61 on Cal. In fact his entire career at ASU was downright outrageous. Check it out. One more thing. Joe Johnson was drafted by Boston. Don't forget that.

Starting Lineups:
Rajon Rondo
vs. Mike Bibby 
Ray Allen vs. Joe Johnson
Paul Pierce vs. Marvin Williams 
Kevin Garnett vs. Josh Smith 
Kendrick Perkins
vs. Al Horford 

What’s the deal with Stoudamire?: In my recent post about the Atlanta Hawks players I wrote the following about him:

"From an outsider's perspective he is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Lute Olsen is on the record as saying Stoudamire is a better shooter than J.J. Reddick, based upon their college careers. However, Stoudamire is better known as a streak shooter and a head case. In fact Olsen's biography, Lute! devoted a seemingly disproportionate amount of time to Stoudamire's time as a Wildcat when you consider all of the guys that have come out of Arizona. Whatever you think of Stoudamire there is no denying that he shot an abysmal 34.6% from the field this season, only played in 33 games and averaged just under 11 minutes when he did see time."

Well the other day a Hawks fan e-mailed me out of the blue to give his point of view:

"He is a riddle for sure. Shooters need playing time. I am not surprised by his poor percentages considering the minutes he is getting. If anybody can figure this riddle out they would have a very deadly weapon to add to a team."

That is a fair point about playing time, particularly since Stoudamire already has a reputation as a streak shooter. And maybe he did not deserve playing time. But it’s not surprising that Mike Woodson can’t give minutes to him. If I were a coach and a story surfaced that my general manager had tried to fire me three times well I would desperately try to make the playoffs. Long story short is Stoudamire going to make it in this league? And yes that’s probably way too much time to devote to him.

The Highlight Factory: That’s the Hawks’ ad campaign this season and I really like it. And regardless of what Marvin Williams, Josh Childress or anyone else on the squad not named Josh Smith does, it works because of Smith. He’s going to block some shots and throw down a few dunks that even Celtics fans will have to appreciate. On top of that this will be Smith’s first real exposure since the Dunk Contest he won, as he has been in basketball purgatory since entering the league. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but Atlanta has not been getting the national television call all that often.


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