Boston Celtics (52-22) at Atlanta Hawks (43-32)
Friday, April 1
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #75, Road Game #38
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, NBAC
Radio: WEEI, WQXI, 99X FM
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Tony Brown, Jason Phillips
This is the 3rd and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics have won both games so far, one in Boston and one in Atlanta. Last Season the Hawks won the season series 4-0. It marked the first time since 1998-99 season that the Celtics had been swept by the Hawks and only the fourth time since the 1960-61 season that the C’s had failed to win a game against Atlanta.
The Celtics finally got one of their big men back as Jermaine O'Neal played his first game against the Spurs but lost another as Krstic went out with a knee injury in that same game. Krstic is headed for an MRI but no word on how serious the injury is at this time. So just when the Celtics thought they were going to get some depth at center, they lose another center to injury.
These two teams don't like each other very much going back to the 2008 playoff series that got very heated. Paul Pierce and Al Horford had a few scuffles and heated exchanges as did KG and Zaza Pachulia. They always seem to play a little harder when they face the Celtics.
The Celtics are 23-14 on the road and 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Hawks are 23-15 at home and 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Hawks have won 3 in a row while the Celtics have won just 1 game and are 2-3 in their last 5. The Celtics are 2 games back of Chicago, who play the Pistons tonight, and they are back to half a game in front of the Heat, who play Minnesota. The Hawks are sitting comfortably in the 5th spot, 4 games behind Orlando for the 4th seed and 4 games in front of Philly for the 6th seed.
The Celtics are coming off a very emotional win over the Spurs while the Hawks were off on Thursday. The team wasn't expected to get to their hotel until 5 am and back to back games have been tough for them all season. It would be great if the Celtics could build on the win over the Spurs and get another win in this game. If they play like they did in San Antonio they have a very good chance. But maybe that's too much to ask on the second night of back to back games and with the Celtics once again playing short handed in the middle.
at Boston Celtics (51-22) at San Antonio Spurs (57-17)
Thursday, March 31
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #74, Road Game #37
TV: TNT, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, WOAI
Referees: Dan Crawford, Tony Brothers, Violet Palmer The Spurs went most of the season without injuries to any of their starters while the Celtics have battled injuries all year long. The injury bug has finally caught up to the Spurs who played without 4 of their starters on Tuesday in a home loss to Portland. Both teams are expecting injured players to return to the rosters for this game. .
All 4 of the injured Spurs practiced on Wednesday. Tony Parker is listed as probable and Antonio McDyess is expected to play. Both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are listed as possible and will be game time decisions. Greg Popovich said that both are close and that he wouldn't tip his hand as to whether or not they will play. The Celtics may get a long awaited boost as Jermaine O'Neal has targeted this game for his return to the court. After a good practice on Wednesday, he is also listed as probable. Doc said that he looked very good in practice, but there's bound to be a lot of rust.
The Celtics are up 1-0 in the series after a 2 point win in the Garden back in January. Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points and 8 rebounds in that one. The Celtics played that game without KG and Delonte West, however, both O'Neals played 20+ minutes in that game. Ray Allen came up big for the Celtics as they went to him early and often and he finished with 31 points. Rondo had a triple double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 22 assists. With both Ray and Rondo struggling in recent games, the Celtics it's a long shot that they will get anywhere close to that kind of production from them in this game.
The Spurs have lost 4 in a row for the first time this season and will be motivated to end that streak in this game. Their once 7 game lead over 2nd place in the West is down to 3.5 games over the surging Lakers. The Celtics have dropped to 2.5 game behind Chicago for the top spot and they are tied with Miami for the second seed. Both Miami and Chicago are idle tonight with the Bulls playing Detroit and Heat playing the Wolves on Friday. Both teams should have some urgency as playoff position is at stake.
The Celtics have been struggling and have lost to several teams recently that they should have beaten. The Spurs have lost 4 in a row since Tim Duncan went out with the ankle injury. The Celtics have dropped 3 of their last 4, all of which should have been very winnable games. Both teams are on the first of back to back games with the Spurs facing Houston and the Celtics moving on to Atlanta. The Celtics have won the last 4 meetings in San Antonio. Hopefully the extra day of practice and the return of Jermaine O'Neal will give the Celtics the boost they need to get back on track and pull out a win.
at Boston Celtics (51-21) at Indiana Pacers (32-42)
Monday, March 28
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #73, Road Game #36
TV: CSNNE, FSI, SNET1, NBA-LP 753/754
Radio: WEEI, WFNI
Conseco Field House
Referees: Ed Malloy, Rodney Mott, Haywoode Workman The Celtics continue their road trip with the Indiana Pacers. This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics have won all 3 games so far. In the last game, the starters started off slowly as has been their recent trend, scoring just 15 points in the first quarter. The second unit, led by 19 from Jeff Green brought the team back. The reserves finished the game for a 92-80 win while the starters finished on the bench.
Indiana is in the 8th spot in the East, 3.5 games behind New York for the 7th seed and just one game in front of Charlotte for the 8th seed. They are fighting to stay in contention for that 8th seed and so every game is important to them. The Celtics should expect a strong effort from the Pacers and they will need to match that effort if they expect to get a win in this game.
After Sunday's games, the Celtics are back to 2 games out of the 1st spot and only half a game in front of Miami for the second seed. Chicago is playing at home against Philly on Monday and should win that game. Miami is off and so if the Celtics win this one they will keep pace with the two teams. If they lose they drop 3 games out of first and tied for the 2nd spot with Miami but the Celtics own the tie breaker.
at Boston Celtics (50-21) at Minnesota Timberwolves (17-56)
Sunday, March 27
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #27, Road Game #35
TV: CSN-NE, WFTC, NBA-LP 758
Radio: WEEI, KFAN
Referees: Ken Mauer, Kevin Cutler, Courtney Kirkland
This game begins a 4 game road trip for the Celtics and is the first of a back to back set. This is the second and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics won a close game in Boston 96-93 in which they came back from 9 points down in the 3rd behind 18 second half points from Paul Pierce. This was in the good old days when Rondo actually ran the team and he finished with 16 assists and hit 2 key jumpers down the stretch. KG missed that first meeting with the calf strain and Kevin Love may miss this game with a groin injury.
The Celtics enter this game 2.5 games behind Chicago for the top seed in the East and just half a game ahead of Miami for the 2nd seed. They have also fallen behind the Lakers in the standings. The Celtics don't seem to have any intensity or sense of urgency and have been going away from the things that have made them so tough in the past.
Doc called the team soft at halftime against the Knicks and that gave them enough incentive to come out in the second half and pull out a win after playing a very soft first half. After their loss to the Bobcats, Doc called out the team as being selfish. I don't recall ever seeing Doc so frustrated with the team since he has been here.. Even the team that lost 18 in a row showed the desire to win and gave a good effort every night. This team seems to be doing neither. Hopefully they have gotten the message and will turn it around and get back to playing Celtics team ball in this game.
The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games and 21-13 on the road. They have lost 2 in a row and hopefully they will put out the effort in this game to avoid a 3 game losing streak. The Timberwolves are coming off a loss to Perk and the Thunder and are 2-8 in their last 10 games and they are 12-24 at home. They have lost their last 6 games. They have lost 8 games in a row to the Celtics but 8 of the last 14 games between these two teams have been decided by 3 points or less.
With frustrations rising with both the team and Doc, the Celtics need to turn it around and focus on getting back to what has made them one of the top teams this season. They need to remember ubuntu and that team ball and defense wins games. If they can do that, they should be fine in this game and beyond.