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Celtics host East leading Hawks

The Celtics host the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks in the midst of more trades and roster turmoil.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks (30-8) at Boston Celtics (13-23)
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
8:00 PM ET
Game #37 Home Game #21
TV: CSNNE, SportsSouth, NBA-LP 760(DTV), 756(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 92.9 FM
TD Garden

Referees: Tom Washington, Curtis Blair, David Guthrie

The Celtics host the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks in the midst of more trades and roster turmoil. On Monday word came out that the Celtics are trading Jameer Nelson to Denver for former Celtic Nate Robinson, who they are expected to buy out. They are also rumored to be working on a buy out with Tayshaun Prince. It is also rumored that Austin Rivers could be on his way to the Clippers for unnamed expiring contracts and a draft pick. None of them are expected to play for the Celtics in this one.

The Hawks come in having won 9 games in a row and also 9 straight on the road. They are 14-5 on the road while the Celtics are 9-11 at home and working on a modest 2 game win streak. This is the second of 3 games between these two teams. The Hawks won the first meeting in Atlanta 109-105. They will meet once more in Boston on February 11.

The Hawks are playing in the second of back to back games, having played in Philadelphia on Monday night. However, they were able to rest 3 of their starters, who should be rested and raring to go for this game. DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Paul Millsap all sat out the game and in spite of missing 3 starters, they still were able to blow out the Sixers 105-87.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

Evan Turner vs Jeff Teague

Shooting Guard

Avery Bradley vs Kyle Korver

Small Forward

Jae Crowder vs DeMarre Carroll

Power Forward
Jared Sullinger vs Paul Millsap


Tyler Zeller vs Al Horford

Celtics Reserves
Phil Pressey
Brandon Bass
Kelly Olynyk
Gerald Wallace
Marcus Smart
James Young
Marcus Thornton


Players Who May or May Not Even Be Celtics at Gametime
Jameer Nelson (to Nuggets?????????)
Nate Robinson (from Nuggets and Buy Out????????????)
Tayshaun Prince (From Grizzlies and Buy Out??????????)
Austin Rivers (From Grizzlies and to Clippers??????????)
Expiring Contracts (Who Knows?????????)

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


Key Matchups
Evan Turner vs Jeff Teague
Once again, Turner will have a height advantage but Teague has an advantage in just about everything else. He is averaging 17.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Turner and Smart need to slow him down from from scoring and from getting the Hawks into their offense quickly.

Jared Sullinger vs Paul Millsap
It doesn't get easier for Sully who goes from having to play against Anthony Davis to having to matchup up with Paul Millsap. Millsap is averaging 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals. He will be a handful and Sully is going to need to play hard on both ends of the court to keep Millsap in check.

Honorable Mention

Tyler Zeller vs Al Horford.
Horford is having a very good year and will be a handful for Zeller to matchup with. He is averaging 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game. He is one of the 2 starters who didn't get a rest in Monday's game and finished with his first career double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

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 one of the best 4th quarter teams in the league, averaging 26.0 points. If the Celtics let up, the Hawks will make them pay.

Defense - The Hawks shoot a lot of 3 pointers. They are 8th in the league attempting 24.8 3-pointers a game and they are 7th in the league, making 9.6 3's per game. They have several good shooters from distance, especially Kyle Korver who leads the league in 3 point percentage at 52.4%. The Celtics must up their perimeter defense if they expect to hang with the Hawks. They also have to defend the paint better with Millsap and Horford and Teague all very good at attacking the basket.

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 Celtics have to be more aggressive throughout the game.

Focus - The Celtics have to stay focused and not let the Hawks defense (or all the trades) throw them off their game. They have to focus on making good passes and on moving the ball to find the open man. They have to keep that focus throughout the game and not let up and not get flustered.

Home Game and Effort
The Celtics are home and after the win over the Pelicans, Jae Crowder mentioned how the crowd gives them energy and pushes them to play harder. They should get a boost from the home crowd in this game as well. If the Celtics come out with the same effort they brought against the Pelicans, the game will be competitive at the least. Also it's possible that the Hawks will underestimate them and not bring their own best effort.

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