Skip to content

Celtics could cripple Hawks with another win to end the weekend

May 6, 2012, 3:30 PM EST

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics Getty Images

The Boston Celtics haven’t played exceptional basketball during their NBA Playoffs series against the Atlanta Hawks, but they’ve got the job done well enough to take a 2-1 lead heading into Sunday evening’s game at the Garden. Atlanta’s going to have to come up with some road magic of their own to end the weekend, however, if they’re going to keep the series competitive.

Since the Hawks posted their opening game victory, they’ve struggled running any sort of offense in the second half — and it didn’t help that Josh Smith missed Friday’s game with a leg injury, either, taking away the team’s best offensive threat from the series’ first two games. On the other end of the spectrum, the Celtics have watched Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo both put together big games to help Boston squeak out wins to take the lead in the series.

It’s difficult to try and predict anything based on what has happened in the first few games between these two teams, however, considering the key players will be changed once again for Sunday’s Game 4. First it was Ray Allen being absent from the lineup, then Rondo was suspended for Game 2, Smith missed Game 3 due to injury and now — on Sunday — it appears nearly all of the main contributors expected to play in this series (Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia are still absent) will play on Sunday … unless, of course, Avery Bradley‘s “game-time decision” due to a shoulder injury is turned into a DNP or the sprained ankle Tracy McGrady suffered on Friday night has flared up.

All of that said, the Hawks’ backs will be against the for Sunday’s game. A 3-1 deficit isn’t impossible to come back from, of course, but the momentum the Celtics have already built without playing their best basketball certainly won’t be dampered if they’re able to pick up another win at home.

For the Hawks to win, they’ll need to figure out how to stop Rondo from penetrating — Kirk Hinrich‘s seemed to play the best defense on him this series, for what it’s worth — while hoping Pierce doesn’t go into hero-mode and the tandem of Jason Collins and Ivan Johnson are able to keep Kevin Garnett from breaking out a retro scoring performance. Atlanta will need to rely on Joe Johnson and “Smoove” Smith, provided he’s healthy, on the offensive end while making sure the stagnant offense that has appeared in the second halves of Game 2 and 3 don’t appear again in Game 4.

Boston doesn’t have as many problems to worry about considering they’ve pulled out wins playing less than stellar basketball their past two games anyway. The Hawks will likely have some answers for Rondo and Pierce after being beat by them the past two games, but there’s a reason they’ve been referred to as the Big Four in the past — and Garnett or Allen likely wouldn’t mind reminding the national viewing audience, either, if anyone’s forgotten.

The onus is on the Hawks to show that they belong and, if it doesn’t happen on Sunday night, anything else will likely be too little, too late.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Phil Jackson to get fined for innocuous comment on Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell

    Feb 27, 2015, 12:48 PM EST

    Celebrities Attend Vancouver Canucks Vs New York Rangers Game - February 19, 2015 Getty Images

    Phil Jackson can’t just quietly sneak into a building and watch a prospect, so a reporter asked him a question. Jackson answered and will pay for that.

  2. Derrick Rose expected to return in 4-6 weeks. In time for playoffs.

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:58 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    This makes the Bulls a lot more dangerous come the playoffs.

  3. Draymond Green drives for dunk, Timofey Mozgov isn’t going to stop him (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EST

    draymond green Getty Images

    The Cavaliers’ rim protection has been infinitely better since the arrival of Timofey Mozgov, but he wasn’t stopping Draymond Green on this one.

  4. Kyle Lowry on his game of late: “I’m trash.”

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:44 AM EST

    Raptors DeRozan and Lowry against Hawks Getty Images

    DeMar DeRozan says he’s right next to Lowry on this.

  5. Eric Bledsoe, Russell Westbrook put on a show (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:10 AM EST

    Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len AP

    Westbrook had the numbers but Bledsoe was efficient.

  6. Five Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: The Cavaliers we expected have arrived

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:55 AM EST

    LeBron James AP

    If you had any doubts about the Cavs, they answered them.

  7. LeBron drops season-high 42 as Cavaliers comfortably handle Warriors (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 12:55 AM EST

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron looked at Stephen Curry across the way and decided to make his own MVP statement.

  8. Rip Hamilton finally, formally announced retirement

    Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Rip Hamilton

    Yes it’s a little late in coming, but it’s worth remembering what a quality player he was.

  9. Derrick Rose scheduled for surgery Friday, will have all or part of meniscus removed

    Feb 26, 2015, 5:45 PM EST

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    He is having all or part of the meniscus removed, which makes for a faster recovery.

  10. Reports: Kings’ Darren Collison to have surgery, likely done for season

    Feb 26, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    While in theory he could return for a few games, in practice that’s not going to happen.

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8123)
  2. S. Curry (7215)
  3. D. Rose (7193)
  4. M. Carter-Williams (7000)
  5. D. Howard (6991)
  1. P. George (6592)
  2. C. Bosh (6342)
  3. A. Davis (5944)
  4. B. Beal (5760)
  5. K. Olynyk (5431)