Friday, March 27, 2009
7:30 pm ET
Phillips Arena (Atlanta, GA)
Coming off of a tough loss in Orlando, which handed away the rights to the Eastern Conference's second slot, the hobbled Celtics will look to bounce back against last season's first round playoff opponent, the Atlanta Hawks.
Atlanta has had a solid year all around, and as of late, Mike Woodson's club has been surging. The Hawks have won eight of their last 10 games, with all but one of those contests being played at their comfortable home of Phillips Arena. Perhaps one of the largest components to Atlanta's recent hot streak is the play of Al Horford, who has been racking up double-doubles like a mad-man once again. Since the All-Star break, the former Florida Gator has put up 13.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. More importantly, he has become more aggressive on the offensive end, creating more inside-out opportunities for the Atlanta's attack.
Neither team will be at full strength for tonight's battle, however. Atlanta's starting three-man Marvin Williams is expected to miss his 10th straight game due to lower back soreness, while Acie Law could be sidelined with a similar ailment. As for our beloved men in green, Rajon Rondo says that he expects to suit up, despite the re-sprained left ankle, but Doc Rivers recently noted that both he and Kevin Garnett are game time decisions. Garnett did not move as well as the coaching staff would've liked in Wednesday night's loss to Orlando, and "The Big Ticket" reportedly failed to get through the full shootaround this morning.
Healthy or not, here we come.
G G F F C
PPG: Paul Pierce (20.2)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (8.5)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.5)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (1.9)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (1.9)
G G F F C
PPG: Joe Johnson (21.7)
RPG: Al Horford (9.2)
APG: Joe Johnson (5.9)
SPG: Josh Smith (1.4)
BPG: Josh Smith (1.6)
Kevin Garnett (precaution/extra rest – game time decision)
Rajon Rondo (sprained left ankle – game time decision)
Leon Powe (bruised right knee – out)
Tony Allen (recovering from thumb surgery – out)
Brian Scalabrine (concussions/strained neck – out)
Marvin Williams (sore lower back – out)
Acie Law (sore lower back – questionable)
Speedy Claxton (hamstring – out)
Keys to Victory
- Limit Turnovers
- Ball Movement
- Transition Defense
- Sense of Urgency