Tip: 8:00 PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Marc Davis, Leroy Richardson, Zach Zarba
The Celtics and Hawks played a horribly unwatchable game in which the Celtics looked old and dead… until they didn't anymore, made a comeback, and won the game 79-76.
Get it to: Rajon Rondo
Rajon has been running the Celtics offense beautifully. I'm hoping that his desire to extend his assist streak leads to more of the same. The Celtics are in the midst of a lot of games in not much time… if Rondo is dying to get another 10 assists, he'll find guys who can score.
Gotta stop: Josh Smith
Force him to take jumpers… which shouldn't be too hard. If you keep his athleticism in check, you take away an advantage that he seems reluctant to use sometimes.
The Wild Card: Zaza Pachulia
One of the easiest guys in the league to hate, and if he starts grabbing offensive rebounds, we'll REALLY be pissed at him. Keep this guy in check or else this won't end well.
How we see it goin' down
I've been wracking my brain for hours now trying to figure this game out… and I just can't. The Hawks are rested (they last played Saturday), but they're mediocre on the road. The Celtics just came off a tough road win over a quality opponent, flew into Boston, play tonight, and then it's off to Toronto for the first of three in a row… but they're playing great ball.
To me, the overriding factors are (a) the Celtics are at home (b) Rondo wants to keep his assist roll going and (c) The Celtics are just better now. I can't pick against the team the way they're playing at the moment. Plus, home court might hinge on this game. The Celtics are the 4th seed, but Atlanta has a better record. A win tonight moves them into a tie. If this truly is the 4/5 matchup… the team with the better record will get the home court advantage.
So I'm going to guess the Celtics will settle for a lot of jumpers, but Avery Bradley will be even more instrumental in this win. I see the Celtics playing a slow, deliberate, ugly game. You'll see zone defenses, you'll see walking the ball up the floor, and you won't see much scoring. I'll go with the C's 85-80 with the caveat that I really have no clue on this one… or at least much less of a clue than usual.