|Hawks explain Celtics keys to postseason success||04.03.09 at 11:07 pm ET|
Before the Boston Celtics won their 17th world championship and proved “anything is possible,” the Atlanta Hawks proved something of their own – beating the Celtics was possible, too.
Despite looking unstoppable heading into the playoffs last season, the Celtics needed seven games to fend off the eighth-seeded Hawks. This season they are even more vulnerable, with injuries hampering their lineup. If the Celtics came dangerously close to elimination with a healthy squad, what do they have to do this season to avoid another first round scare?
“They just have to come out to try to keep focused throughout the whole series,” said Al Horford prior to the Celtics-Hawks game (RECAP HERE). “I think that after them beating us the first two games here (Boston), they thought that they could just go into Atlanta and take care of it. But they didn’t realize what was ahead of them. I think they know this by now. They know they have to come in and they have to bring their A-game on the road too.”
The Celtics inability to win on the road nearly cost them their title. They folded in Atlanta — “[They played] totally different. Totally different,” said Horford — and it wasn’t until Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons that they finally won away from the Garden.
“They are a lot more energetic, I would say, [at home]. They get up and down a lot more and play with a lot more confidence at home, so it makes them a much better team,” said Joe Johnson. “I don’t think they run as much [on the road]. I just think that as soon as you go on the road, the atmosphere is not the same. You’re just not used to a lot of things. But at home, that’s where you’re more comfortable so you tend to play more relaxed and have a lot more confidence.”
Even if the Celtics overcome their woes on the road, there is still a bigger concern – the nagging knee injury of Kevin Garnett. He averaged nearly 21 points (more than twenty percent of the Celtics total offense) and nine rebounds per game in the first round against Atlanta. But the Hawks have lost twice to Celtics this season without Garnett and think they can compensate for his absence.
“Keep (Glen) Big Baby Davis confident in his play and keep having Mikki Moore come off the bench and play well like he’s doing,” suggested Josh Smith. “I don’t think they have anything to worry about.”
In less than two weeks the Celtics will be drawing up their gameplan for the start of the postseason. While they have three first round losses to the Hawks to reflect on, they may have already learned all the lessons they need.
“Just win, that’s what it comes down to,” said Hawks head coach Mike Woodson. “I think the fact that they might not have homecourt advantage all the way through, when you win a title that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t because these guys, they’ve been through the wars. They went seven with us, they went seven with Cleveland, Detroit gave them a good run. There’s nothing they haven’t seen so I don’t think it really matters.
“They’re going to be there when it counts. I promise you that.”
|More boos for Bibby||at 7:51 pm ET|
Nope, Celtics fans still have not forgotten about Mike Bibby’s anti-Boston comments during last season’s playoffs. I’m waiting for the boos to die down, but six minutes into the game they are going strong. The only difference, everyone forgot their Bibby face:
|Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks||at 9:47 am ET|
Boston Celtics (57-19) vs. Atlanta Hawks (43-32)
TD BankNorth Garden
Season Series: Celtics 3-0
Last time they met: March 27, 2009
The Celtics survived a fourth quarter push from the Hawks to hold on to a 99-93 win in Atlanta. Glen Davis stepped in for Kevin Garnett, adding 19 points and 12 rebounds. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 22 points. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith also scored 22 points apiece for the Hawks. The Celtics also dished out 22 assists to the Hawks’ 14.
Celtics Team Leaders
Scoring: Paul Pierce (20.4 points)
Rebounding: Kevin Garnett* (8.5 points)
Assists: Rajon Rondo (8.5 assists)
Hawks Team Leaders
Scoring: Joe Johnson (21.4 points)
Rebounding: Al Horford (9.2 rebounds)
Assists: Joe Johnson (5.9 assists)
Follow the latest news and updates from the Garden on Green Street.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 103, Hawks 102||11.13.08 at 7:09 am ET|
Let’s hope that Wednesday night was just the beginning… the beginning of what could be the best rivalry this year in the Eastern Conference. Anyone attending the Cs encounter with the Atlanta Hawks could tell almost immediately that these Hawks, who nearly dashed the Celtics’ hopes last spring in the first round, are no fluke. And those same Celtics fans who were shocked when Marvin Williams hit a three-pointer with 7.4 seconds were were overjoyed when Paul Pierce’s rainbow fell through with half a second to go, handing Atlanta their first loss in seven games and improving Boston to 8-1.
|Veterans maintain first quarter lead for Hawks||11.12.08 at 6:15 pm ET|
Last season one of the most impressive factors of the Hawks series against the Celtics was their youth and inexperience. This summer, however, they have added veteran leadership to their bench. Mo Evans and Flip Murray pushed their younger teammates during training camp and are one of the reasons why head coach Mike Woodson thinks the Hawks have been so successful. With Murray and Evans on the court, the Hawks stopped a Celtics run to cap off the first quarter with a three-point dagger from Murray.
At the end of the first quarter … Hawks 31, Celtics 24
|Playoffs? Is it the playoffs?||at 5:53 pm ET|
Did you hear that?
It’s the boos resonating from the crowd on Mike Bibby’s first possession.
There was a postseason atmosphere before tip-off which was only heightened by Kevin Garnett’s encouragement of the crowd. Only this time, the Hawks have come out swinging first. Joe Johnson is still out to beat the Celtics on the offensive end and is leading his team to an early lead.
Doc Rivers called a timeout down 17-11 with six minutes to go in the first quarter. Yes, another first quarter deficit. This is becoming the norm for the Cs, echoing Rivers comments of inconsistency from the starting five.
So far Monday’s hero Paul Pierce is scoreless. Let’s see if the Celtics can get it going …
|Smith to miss game against Celtics?||11.07.08 at 9:12 pm ET|
Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith suffered a high ankle sprain on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors. Initial reports indicate Smith will miss 2-4 weeks, which would sideline him for next Wednesday’s game against the Celtics.
Last season Smith averaged 15.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists against the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
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