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Celtics Go To Atlanta to Clip Hawks Wings

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Boston (25-8) at Atlanta (22-12)
Time: Friday, January 8th, 8:00PM EST
TV: ESPN Radio: WEEI
Venue: Phillips Arena
Count: Game 34, Road Game 19 (14-4), Road Trip Game 2 of 3

Anyone else still tired from the Miami game? Well, let's hope the Celtics aren't. Neither team suiting up tonight in Phillips Arena has had the best time since Christmas. The Hawks are 2 and 4, with a pretty humiliating loss to the Knicks, while the Celtics are 2-3, with humiliating losses to the Warriors and Clippers.

However, 5 or 6 games is no space to judge a season, and in that regard both teams suiting up tonight in Phillips Arena have estabilished themselves as elite squads in the East. If you were to talk to a member of the Hawks staff, they'd have you believe that the Celtics and the Hawks have a sort of rivalry. They'd have you believe that this game is just as important to the Celtics as it is to the Hawks. However, that's not entirely true. Everytime the Hawks play the Celtics it is another time they have to prove that the playoffs from 2008 were no fluke. It is another time to try to prove that they're legitimate peers of the veteran, champion, Boston Celtics.

Last season that didn't go well for Atlanta. they lost all four of thier matchups against the Gang Green. The last time the Hawks beat the Celtics in Atlanta was actually the 2008 Playoffs. In that regard, last season might have been a step back for the Dirrty Birds.

That's why on November 13th the Hawks came into Boston and out hustled and out played the Celtics. They out-rebounded former rebounding champ Kevin Garnett. They out-shot three point virtuoso Ray Allen, and they out-angried perennial perturbed pedestrian Rasheed Wallace. In that entire debacle of a basketball game the only bright spot was saint in waiting Paul Pierce. The rest, bleh. For that reason alone, this game might mean as much to the Celtics as it does to the Hawks. While the youngsters keep trying to prove to the veterans that they belong at the big boys table, the old boys might just have it in their head that they need to prove to the youngsters that the old man still has a few moves. To quote the best movie ever,

It is the clutch situation of the season. They say the Jet's lost a step or two, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some fireworks here.

BOSTON CELTICS Lineup:

POSITION PLAYER MPG PPG RPG APG
PG Rajon Rondo 35.7 13.5 4 9.6
SG Ray Allen 36.1 16.5 3.3 2.9
SF Paul Pierce 35.6 18.1 4.7 3.8
PF Rasheed Wallace 22.4 9.6 4.5 1
C Kendrick Perkins 28.2 12.2 8.1 1.2
6 Glen Davis 13.6 5.4 4.4 0.4
7 Eddie House 17.3 7.6 1.3 0.5
8 Brian Scalabrine
9.7 1.2 0.7 0.5
9 Shelden Williams 13.3 4.3 3.5 0.6
10 JR Giddens 5.1 1.1 0.8 0.3

Injuries and stuff: Tony Allen (OUT), Kevin Garnett (OUT), Marquis Daniels (OUT), Lester Hudson (still waived)

ATLANTA HAWKS LINEUP:

POSITION PLAYER MPG PPG RPG APG
PG Mike Bibby 28.1 9.6 2.4 4.3
SG Joe Johnson 37.2 21.5 5.1 4.9
SF Marvin Williams 29.4 10.2 4.0 1.2
PF Josh Smith 32.0 15.0 8.0 3.5
C Al Horford 34.2 13.6 9.9 2.2
6 Maurice Evans 15.7 5.4 2.0 0.8
7 Zaza Pachulia 14.5 5.2 3.2 0.4
8 Jeff Teague 10.6 3.5 1.1 2.1
9 Joe Smith 9.3 3.1 2.6 0.3
10 Randolph Morris 5.2 2.9 1.6

0.0

Injuries and Stuff: None

Matchup of the night: Kendrick Perkins V Al Horford

This matchup is the matchup that will define whether or not the Celtics manage a win here. Kendrick Perkins manages about the same rate of rebounds per 48 as Horford, he just plays less. Kevin Garnett hasn't been himself all season when it comes to rebounding, but now Perkules has to play next to Rasheed Wallace, who usually sees rebounds like kids see broccoli. Perkins needs to big body his way around the paint, because no one is going to help him.

Keys to the Game for the Good Guys:

1: Rebound that basketball!!- Last time the Celtics faced the Atlanta Hawks they gave up 16 offensive rebounds which resulted in 22 second chance points. That is absolutely ridiculous, and not very Ubuntu! If the Celtics want to play a competitive game here, they ought to figure that out before they're down 10 points at the half. They need to rebound from the first missed shot and not stop, which brings me to my second point.....

2: Hustle!!- Rebounding missed shots is half the battle, but it all comes back to hustle. If they get after loose balls, if they don't let the defense get lazy or unfocused, then the C's have a great shot of taking it to the Hawks.

3: Smart Shots, With Short Memories: Last time these two teams played the Celtics shot 6.7% from deep. That is not a tyPO, they shot 6.7% from three point range.

Bill Walker Watch: 1 game, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 life shattering Earth changing dunks
Probability of significant playing time: ?%

-Honestly for the Walker faithful who knows? Tony Allen is out, JR Giddens didn't get any burn against Miami, and heck he recently started a game. I imagine Bill Walker's #1 concern is not how many posters he's going to make tonight, but whether or not he gets splinters on his butt.