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Celtics Hoping to Shoot Down Hawks at the Garden

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(23-13) at (26-9)

Atlanta Hawks (23-13) at Boston Celtics (26-9)
Monday January 11
7:30 PM ET
Game #36, Home Game #16
TV: CSN-NE, SSO-ATL, NBA TV
TD Garden

Today's Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Marc Davis, Kane Fitzgerald

Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics need to think revenge when they come into this game. They have lost 2 straight to these Hawks and need to make a statement in this game as they may very well meet them in the playoffs once again. They are capable of beating the Hawks even without Kevin Garnett, but they have to put out the effort to do so. They can't give half effort as they did in the previous two games or they will get the same result.

After Friday's game, Perk mentioned that he has watched the Hawks play and said that they don't play near as hard against any other team in the league as they do against the Celtics. That showed in the fact that they were blown out by the Magic the night after beating the Celtics. We know that the Hawks will be motivated against the Celtics and will come into this game focused. If they want to win, the Celtics will have to come out motivated and focused against the Hawks as well.

In spite of a few Friday night blips, the Celtics have played well at home and have an 11-4 record at the Garden with one of those losses coming against the Hawks. . The Hawks have struggled a bit on the road with a 9-8 record away from Philips Arena but that means nothing when they play the Celtics as they take their play to a different level when they face the Celtics. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Hawks have been off since losing to the Magic on Saturday.

This should be a good game and hopefully the Celtics will finally put together a good 48 minutes vs the Hawks and get the win.

Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo 13.5 PPG 9.6 APG 2.6 SPG
Mike Bibby 9.6 PPG 4.3 APG 1.0SPG

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen 16.5 PPG 2.9 APG .35743 3P%
Joe Johnson 21.5 PPG 4.9 APG 5.9 .352 3P%

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce 18.1 PPG 4.7 RPG 3.8 APG
Marvin Williams 10.2 PPG 4.9 RPG 1.2 APG

Power Forward
vs
Rasheed Wallace 9.6 PPG 4.5 RPG 0.8 BPG
PF Josh Smith 15.0 PPG 8.0 RPG 2.2 BPG

Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins Perkins 12.2 PPG 8.1 RPG 2.0 BPG
Al Horford 13.6 PPG 9.9 RPG 1.4 BPG

Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Mike Bibby
When these two teams met on Friday, Mike Bibby had 17 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals while Rondo had 11 points 10 assists and 1 steal. And most importantly, Bibby led his team to the win. This is one matchup where the Celtics should have the advantage. Rondo is coming off a strong performance in Toronto and hopefully will build on that and dominate Bibby in this one.

vs
Rasheed Wallace vs Josh Smith
Smith is young and athletic and is tough to cover. In their previous matchup, Smith had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Sheed finished with 11 points and 3 rebounds. Sheed had his best game as a Celtics vs the Raptors and we can only hope that it carries over to this one. It will be important for Sheed to keep Smith off the boards.

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Al Horford
Horford really doesn't like the Celtics and will put out his best effort against them. In their meeting on Friday, Horford had 16 points, 10 rebounds while Perk had 15 points, 14 rebounds.

Ray Allen vs Joe Johnson
Johnson is the Hawks leading scorer and can change a game if he isn't guarded tightly. The Celtics did a decent job of defending him in their last meeting and held him to 12 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists while Ray came through with 15 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists. The Celtics must once again try to contain Johnson and not allow him to go on scoring runs.

Paul Pierce vs Marvin Williams
In their first meeting, Pierce dominated this matchup with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 6 steals to 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals for Williams. This may be the matchup where the Celtics have the biggest advantage and the Celtics will need a big game from the Captain.

Tony Allen vs Jamal Crawford
The Celtics were missing Tony Allen in Friday's game and his defense was much needed against Jamal Crawford, who went off on the Celtics for 18 points. Tony needs to concentrate on defense in this game and try to contain Crawford to keep him from taking over in this game as well.

Keys to the Game
Defense - This is the key to every game and to winning a championship this year. The Hawks are a good 3 point shooting team as well as having the ability to get to the basket and so the Celtics must defend both the perimeter and the paint. In their last meeting the Celtics were very lax on the defensive end and allowed way too many easy baskets.

Rebound - The Celtics were out-rebounded in Friday's game 39-36. They allowed the Hawks too many second chance points and if the Celtics are going to win this game they must make rebounding a priority. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and the Celtics will need both to win this game.

Move the ball When the Celtics rack up a lot of assists, they are very hard to stop but when the ball stops moving, their offense falls apart. Moving the ball, making the extra pass and finding the open man is crucial for this team's success. In Friday's game, the Hawks had 25 assists to just 22 for the Celtics. They have to do a better job of moving the ball and setting up the offense.

Play 48 Minutes The Celtics have had the habit of playing hard and then letting up and allowing teams to get back into the games. With good teams like the Hawks, they can't let up. They have to play strong for 48 minutes on both ends of the court. The Hawks will take advantage of any lapses on the part of the Celtics.


X Factor
Benches

As you can see from the key matchups above, each of the starting matchups is a key matchup. The Hawks starters matchup fairly well with the Celtics. The Hawks also have a strong bench and the Celtics must get contributions from the reserves. In Friday's game, the Hawks bench outscored the Celtics bench 22-12 with 18 of their points coming from Jamal Crawford. The Celtics bench must do better on offense as well as containing their bench, especially Crawford, on defense.