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Celtics look to get back on track on the road vs the Hawks

The Celtics are hoping that they can start December out with a win as they take on the Hawks on the road.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (4-10) at Atlanta Hawks (9-6)
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Game #15 Road Game #6
TV: CSNNE, SportsSouth, NBA-LP 752(DTV), 752(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 92.9 FM
Philips Arena

Referees: Monty McCutchen, Steve Anderson, Mark Ayotte

The Celtics head to Atlanta to face the Atlanta Hawks in what will be yet another tough matchup for the Celtics. The Hawks starting lineup has been together since last season with a few breaks for injuries. Last season the two teams tied the series 2-2. They will meet two more times this season in January and February, both games in Boston.

The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games. They will head home to face the Pistons Wednesday night. The Hawks are also playing in back to back games and will head to Miami for a game on Wednesday.

The Hawks are the best 4th quarter scoring team in the league, averaging 27.5 points in the final period. The Celtics are among the worst teams in the 4th quarter, collapsing on both ends of the court in almost every game. If both trends hold, this one may get ugly down the stretch.

Brad Stevens said that the switch to put Tyler Zeller in the starting lineup was temporary, but with Kelly Olynyk still struggling and Al Horford a tough center to match up with, it may be a good idea to leave Zeller in the starting lineup for this one.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Kyle Korver

Small Forward

Jeff Green vs Demarre Carroll

Power Forward
Jared Sullinger vs Paul Milsap

Tyler Zeller vs Al Horford

Celtics Reserves

Phil Pressey
Evan Turner
Marcus Thornton
Brandon Bass
Dwight Powell
Tyler Zeller
James Young
Gerald Wallace

Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Marcus Smart (ankle) out

Hawks Reserves
Elton Brand
Shelvin Mack
Dennis Shroder
Kent Bazemore
Mike Scott
Thabo Sefolosha
Mike Muscala
Pero Antic
John Jenkins
Adreian Payne


Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague
Teague is a good young point guard and is averaging 18.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists. Rondo will need to set the pace for the Celtics and keep Teague from getting the Hawks into their offense quickly. This should be a good matchup.

The power forward matchup doesn't get much easier for Jared Sullinger. Paul Millsap is playing very well, averaging 16.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Sully will need to contain Millsap and also make him work on defense.

Honorable Mention
Avery Bradley vs Kyle Korver
Korver is averaging 12.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Korver can get hot at any time and put up points in a hurry. Avery will need to keep him from scoring, especially from beyond the arc where the Celtics have struggled on defense.

Keys to the Game
Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have periods where they play great and then they have stretches when they can't hit a shot and can't defend and turn the ball over on every possession, most notably in the 4th quarter. They have to find a way to be consistent from start to finish, especially down the final stretch of the game. The Hawks are the best 4th quarter team in the league and if the Celtics let up, the Hawks will make them pay.

Defense - The Hawks shoot a lot of 3 pointers. They are 7th in the league attempting 23.9 3-pointers a game and they are 7th in the league, making 8.7 3's per game. They have several good shooters from distance and the Celtics have struggled to defend the perimeter so far this season and they must up their perimeter defense. They also have to defend the paint better. They have been allowing way too many easy points in the paint especially down the stretch.

Rebound - The Celtics must crash the boards as a team, especially the guards. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics must be the team that wants the win more and they must win the rebounding battle.

Set the Pace - The Celtics have to run on every possession. The Celtics have built leads in games by pushing the ball and getting easy shots before the defenses set up. Part of the reason they have given up those leads is that they stop running, stop pushing the ball inside, and stop moving the ball. They have to keep up the pace for the entire game.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team in going after loose balls, in rebounding, and in defending. They have to be aggressive in taking the ball inside and not settling for outside shots, especially when those shots aren't falling. The second unit was very aggressive in the second quarter vs the Spurs but then they stopped being aggressive and let the Spurs get pretty much whatever they wanted. The Celtics have to be more aggressive throughout the game.

On the Road and Confidence
The Celtics are on the road and young teams especially struggle on the road. With 4 losses in a row, their confidence seems to be shaken. Can they recapture that confidence, especially playing away from the Garden?