Wednesday, April 30
8:30 PM ET
TV: TNT & CSN (HD)
TD BankNorth Garden
Prior to its start, local and national outlets pegged this series as a sweep in the making with an outside chance of a five-game window. Four games in, the series is not over, and the Atlanta Hawks have already shocked the world. Winners in both games three and four at home, the young and scrappy bunch has challenged the men in green and evened the series at 2-2. Tonight, the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5, and it’s time for the Celtics to buckle down.
Hawks head coach Mike Woodson decided to slow the tempo of his team’s attack in games one and two, and Boston won both contests by an average of 21 points per game. Once the two clubs arrived in Atlanta, Woodson felt that it was time to let his boys loose. Atlanta’s plan of attack for games three and four was to run, keep active, and control the tempo of the game. They did just that, and then some. Game 4, especially, was a tough pill to swallow for Celtics fans; Joe Johnson dissected Boston’s defense by scoring 20 of his 35 total points in the fourth quarter to lift his team to its second straight victory.
The story for the Celtics in those two games was simple – they lost their identity, and through some stretches, their composure. If there is one thing Doc Rivers consistently preaches, it’s that he wants his team to "run their stuff." That did not happen on either end of the floor, once again most notably in Game 4, where Rajon Rondo was truly the only Celtic who came out with the mindset to penetrate. Boston’s offensive attack in the fourth quarter was as atypical as ever, and consisted of stagnancy, minimal ball movement, and settling. To make matters worse, the open looks they did manage to get simply did not fall. Atlanta took advantage of that, climbed on Joe Johnson’s back, and confidently left the arena with an even series.
On behalf of Celtic nation, I want to see my team again tonight in Game 5. I don't know where they've been this week, but I want to see them unleash the dragon. I want them to attack, I want the defense to be on-point and suffocating, I want ball movement, I want intensity, I want KG to scream and bang his chest... I want Boston Celtics basketball.
We want it, and it’s time for the players to prove that they want it just as much, if not more. Games three and four are now behind us. Now is the time to shake it off, focus on the task at hand, and play the same basketball that earned the top record in the NBA. It’s time for the C’s to deliver.
To the fans who will be attending the game – "keep this mutha rockin’."
C Al Horford / Kendrick Perkins
PF Josh Smith / Kevin Garnett
SF Marvin Williams / Paul Pierce
SG Joe Johnson / Ray Allen
PG Mike Bibby / Rajon Rondo
Key Matchup: Joe Johnson vs. Ray Allen
Plain and simple, Joe Johnson has absolutely had his way with Ray Allen over the past two games. In Game 3, Johnson buried five of six from beyond the arc and went for 23 points. Game 4 was a flat out massacre, as previously mentioned. Johnson scored 20 fourth-quarter points, and put Boston away. Ray Allen, and whoever else Doc decides to give the assignment of defending Joe Johnson in Game 5, needs to make sure he doesn’t dismantle this team’s defense again.
Celtics X-Factor: Find Yourself
Once again, the Celtics have not been remotely close to themselves since Game 2 on either end of the court. Their plan of attack has been awkward, defensive rotations have been broken, and the team has also struggled to keep its composure at times. That is not the team we know. Let’s go, green. Get it together.
ATL – Speedy Claxton (left knee – out for season)
BOS – Scot Pollard (torn tendon in left ankle – out for season)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Find Yourself
- Ball Control
- Contain Atlanta’s Offensive Glass
- Keep Composure
- 48-Minute Energy