Atlanta Hawks (2-2) at Boston Celtics (2-2) Postseason Game #5 – Home Game #3 Wednesday, April 30, 2008 8:30 PM ET TNT, CSN HD TD Banknorth Garden
Probable Starting Matchups PG: Rajon Rondo vs Mike Bibby SG: Joe Johnson vs Ray Allen SF: Paul Pierce vs Marvin Williams PF: Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith C: Kendrick Perkins vs Al Horford
Sixth Man: James Posey vs Josh Childress
Key Matchups Ray Allen vs Joe Johnson Joe Johnson almost single handedly beat the Celtics in game 4 scoring 22 of his 35 points in the 4th quarter. Look for the Celtics to double Johnson or put Posey or Tony Allen on him to try to slow him down. Ray needs to make him work harder on the defensive end to take a little more out of him on offense.
Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith In the 4th quarter of tame 4, the only two players to score were Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. Smith finished the game with 28 points. KG is going to have to apply more of what made him the defensive player of the year to slow down Smith who along with Johnson has been beating the Celtics in a two man attack.
Rajon Rondo vs Mike Bibby The matchup of the point guards is still an important one. Rondo completely out played Bibby in the two games in Boston but in Atlanta, Bibby found his game again. Rondo will need to keep Bibby from hitting those open 3's and will also have to make him work on defense by taking the ball to the hoop.
Keys to the Game DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE!!!!! The major reason the Celtics lost games 3 and 4 is that they went away from playing the kind of defense that made them the best defensive team in the league during the regular season. The Celtics allowed the Hawks to shoot 48% in the two games in Atlanta and that just isn't acceptable. They need to control the pace instead of allowing the Hawks to do that and they can do that by clamping down on defense. They must get back to basics and play the smothering team defense that they have played all season. It is defense that will win this series and the championship.
Rebound As the old saying goes: "Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships." I think this is because the majority of rebounding is effort and desire and the team that wants it more and puts out more effort will get more rebounds and will win the game. The Celtics were out-rebounded in both games in Atlanta and they need to put out the effort on the boards to limit their second and third chance shots.
Free Throws The Celtics missed 8 free throws in game 4 and lost by only 5. Missing free throws is the result of a lack of focus. The Celtics need to regain their focus and when they do, they will hit more of their free throws. They can't afford to give away any points, especially from the free throw line.
Be Aggressive The Celtics have been settling for too many jumpers. They need to be more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket and either get the basket or draw the foul. They must also be more aggressive going after loose balls and rebounds. They have allowed the Hawks to be the more aggressive team, attacking the basket and going after loose balls etc. The Celtics must now become the aggressors and attack the basket.
Ball Movement The Celtics must get back to moving the ball and finding the open man instead of each player trying to run his own offense. They have taken too many quick shots and have gotten away from the team offense that has made them so successful all year.
X-Factor BenchPlay Other than James Posey, the bench hasn't been getting it done in the last two games. In the first two games, the bench played very well and gave the team a boost when they came in as well as giving the starters a rest without giving up anything on the court. The bench must be more effective on both ends of the court.
Game Notes: We all thought that Game 3 was a wake up call for the Celtics as they got beat by a team they had dominated for the first two games and that they were expected to sweep. Pierce was fired up after being taunted by Horford. KG was mad. Perk had his nose blooded. They should have come out with focus and put them away in game 4. But, they must have hit the snooze alarm because although there were spurts of the Celtics who won the first 2 games in the series, those spurts were brief.
The Celtics have allowed the Hawks to build confidence and they are not going to just lie down and let the Celtics beat them. But, the Celtics have beaten the top teams in the league all season with their defense and team play and if they can find their focus and get back to that stifling team defense and get back to ubuntu, they should be able to beat this Hawks team.
The Celtics are coming home and Doc has cautioned them not to expect everything to be ok just because they are home. They have to work to fix what went wrong in Atlanta. The Celtics must get back to playing the team defense that made them the best defensive team in the league. That defense was nowhere to be found in Atlanta. How does a team forget how to play the defense they played all season?
The Celtics also have to be more aggressive and take the ball to the hoop more and settle for jumpers less. They have to be more aggressive going after rebounds and loose balls. They need to get back to moving the ball to find the open man. And, they have to get their focus back. They let the Hawks take them completely out of their game and let the young Hawks frustrate them. It shouldn't be all that hard since they played that kind of ball for 84 games and played the crappy kind of ball for the last two. Hopefully all that learned behavior will come back to them and they will come out with the win. As the clocks above signify, time is running out and the Celtics must snap out of their fog and once again dominate this series or their season could be over way too early.