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Series Shifts to Atlanta for Game 3


Boston Celtics (2-0) at Atlanta Hawks (0-2) 
Saturday, April 26
8:00 PM ET
Round 1, Game #3, Away Game #1
Philips Arena
Chat    l   Game Thread     

Hawks Blogs:      Hawks Basketblog    l   Impending Firestorm   l  Hawks Locker   l  Atlanta Hawks Blog       

The series now shifts to Atlanta for game 3.  The Celtics have won the first two games by an average of 21 points in spite of the Celtics not playing their best on offense.  However, their defense has been stifling and that has been the difference.  In spite of having the home crowd behind the Hawks for this game,  it doesn't figure to make up for the huge disparity in talent on the two teams.   
Coming into the series, the one position where most felt that Atlanta had the advantage was at the point.  But, in the first two games, Rondo has played circles around Bibby and that doesn't look to change even if Bibby plays better as Rondo's confidence and level of play is at a season high. 
The Hawks are a dangerous team right now in that they are desperate and we saw the result of this in game 2 as they started to play more physically which resulted in Pierce being injured on a body slam by Josh Smith.  As the Hawks become more desperate, they are likely to get more and more chippy and there will be more chances of another Celtic injury as a result.  Hopefully the refs will keep this in check. 
The Celtics need to be aware of the fact that the other teams that were up 2-0 except for the Spurs all went on to lose game 3 so they should take nothing for granted.  The Celtics had a league best 31-10 record on the road in the regular season, often playing in playoff like atmospheres and facing teams with playoff intensity even in the regular season.  They have proved they can win on the road as well as at home and if they keep their focus and keep their eye on the prize, they should be able to come out of game 3 with a win.

More After the Jump

Probable Starting Lineups
PG:    Rajon Rondo vs  Mike Bibby
SG:    Ray Allen vs Joe Johnson
SF:    Paul Pierce vs Marvin Williams
PF:    Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith
C:      Kendrick Perkins vs Al Horford 
Injury Report
    Scott Pollard, ankle, out  
          Paul Pierce, back, will play     
    Speedy Claxton, knee, out
Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo 13.5 PPG (60%), 6.0 RPG, 8.5 APG, 3.9 SPG, .5 TO
Mike Bibby     8.5 PPG (24%), 3.0 RPG, 1.0 APG,  0.0 SPG, 1.5 TO
Bibby will once again try to redeem himself after talking a lot of trash and then disappearing in the games.  Although there will be Celtics fans in Philips Arena, the crowd will overall be hostile and hopefully that won't distract Rondo from the excellent play that we have seen from him in the first two games.

Kevin Garnett  17.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Josh Smith  9.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 3.5 BPG
Josh Smith has had 2 sub-par games for him and will look to get back on track with the energy of the crowd behind him. KG has not played as well as he can and if Smith ups his game, chances are KG will up his as well.  KG settled for too many jumpers in game 2 and will need to get back to taking the ball inside.
Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins   5.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Al Horford   14.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, .5 BPG
Perk will need to try to keep Horford off the boards and from getting to the hoop for easy baskets.  His defense will be critical in this game. 

Keys to the Game
Bench Play   The Celtics bench has out scored the Hawks bench 64-37 in the first two games.  The bench play of both teams will continue to be a key to this series.  The players off the bench need to continue to play hard on both ends of the floor and out play their counterparts for the Celtics to get this win on the road. 

Defense  In the playoffs, defense becomes even more important than in the regular season.  The Celtics have built their identity around defense and need to be sure that they stay with that mindset and not go away from it. Defense is the key to not only this game, but the championship.   

Play Aggressively  The Celtics need to come out strong and try to get a lead early as it is not easy to come back on the road.  They have to be aggressive in taking the ball to the hoop, in fighting for rebounds and in going after loose balls.  They can't let up on their intensity, especially on the road.   

Focus   Orlando, Cleveland, Utah, and New Orleans all were up 2-0 only to lose in game 3.  LeBron said that he felt that the Cavs focus slipped just a little.  That little slip in focus cost the Cavs  a 30+ point loss in game 3.  The Celtics need to keep their eye on the prize and not let their intensity or focus slip even a little.   They need to come into this game and play as if it is Game 7 and not allow the Hawks even the slightest glimmer of hope.  

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