Atlanta Hawks (2-2) at Boston Celtics (3-0) Friday, November 9 7:30 pm ET TV: NBA LP, CSNHD, SportsSouth Radio: WEEI TDBanknorthGarden Yeah, I know that the Hawks of Dominique and Doc's day were the Air Force, but today's version is making a few waves for themselves. They have beaten 2 of the top teams and put up a good fight against 2 others. They beat the Mavs and Suns convincingly and only lost to Detroit by 1 and the Nets by 5. So, they aren't to be taken for granted. They are a quick and active team, and the Celts will have to do a good job of keeping them off the offensive glass. Probable Starting Lineups PG: Rajon Rondo vs Acie Law IV SG: Joe Johnson vs Ray Allen SF: Marvin Williams vs Paul Pierce PF: Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith C: Kendrick Perkins vs Al Horford
Key Matchups: vs Ray Allen: 6'5", 24 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, +25 Joe Johnson 6'7", 20.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, +16.75 Joe Johnson is younger and quicker than Ray Allen and has a height advantage. JJ is a good defender and so Ray will have to work to get his shots in this game. But on the same note, Ray will make JJ work on the defensive end as well.
vs Kevin Garnett 6'11", 22.7 ppg, 15.2 rpg, 6.0 apg, +37 Josh Smith 6'9", 17.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, +23.5 KG has the height advantage and the experience advantage but Josh Smith is quicker than KG and is a very good defender. This should be a good matchup.
vs Kendrick Perkins 6'10" 6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.3 bpg +7 Al Horford 6'10" 6.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.2 bpg +13.5 Perk is going to be crucial in this game to keep Horford off the glass and defending inside. Atlanta depends on getting to the basket and Perk is going to have to limit his fouls and stay on the floor to keep them out of the paint. Perk doesn't get as many rebounds as Horford, but he is responsible for more than that by blocking out and allowing KG to go after them.
Keys to the Game: Defense: The Celtics defense has been incredible so far both individually and as a team. Here is what Melo had to say about the Celtics defense:
“They beat the (expletive) out of us tonight…..I seen double teams….I’ve never seen defense like that. Every time I touched the ball, I’m playing against my man, I’m playing against Garnett, I’m playing against Perkins, and I’m playing against Ray Allen. He plugging in there, too. I played against four people every time down the court tonight….”
This defensive intensity is going to be the key to winning not just this game, but the championship.
Ball Movement: The Celtics ball movement has been phenomenal. They had 32 assists on 49 baskets against Denver and every player made the extra pass to get open shots along with moving without the ball in order to get open. After trying to do too much in the Raptor's game, Pierce bounced back with a very unselfish game and had a couple of spectacular assists instead of forcing the shot. If they continue this, they will be almost unbeatable.
Hustle: We have seen this team dive for loose balls, crash the boards for rebounds and just basically out hustle the other teams. It will be important to continue doing this. We can't take any teams for granted. The Hawks are coming in with a lot of confidence and we need to continue to send the message that the Celtics are going to be dominant by playing with intensity and out hustling them.
Finally, I have to include this video. It is just too much fun not to.