Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks Preview

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 Friday, January 8th, 2010

Philips Arena – Atlanta, GA

8:00 PM ET Tip

The Atlanta Hawks will be coming into tonights game off a comanding 119-89 victory over the New Jersey Nets, but have been struggling as of late. The Hawks have lost 4 of their last 5 and 5 of their last 7. With the exception of the New York Knicks, all games have been against good opponents. After the start to the year everyone thought they were a real contender for the top spot in the East. Since then they have dropped their record to 22-12. The Celtics on the other hand have won 2 in a row and are looking to pay back the Hawks for the defeat they were handed back in November. Boston comes in with a record of 25-8.

Boston Celtics Probable Starters:

PG: Rajon Rondo - Boston Celtics  SG: Ray Allen - Boston Celtics  SF: Paul Pierce - Boston Celtics  PF: Rasheed Wallace - Boston Celtics  C: Kendrick Perkins - Boston Celtics

Nothing should change in tonights lineup from last game. So long as KG is out, Sheed will be our starting Power Forward. If you look at it, its still a pretty stacked lineup. On another note, Eddie House should be available to come off the bench in tonights game, so maybe he can keep up his shooting that he found before he became ill.

Atlanta Hawks Probable Starters:

PG: Mike Bibby - Atlanta Hawks  SG: Joe Johnson - Atlanta Hawks  SF: Marvin Williams - Atlanta Hawks  PF: Josh Smith - Atlanta Hawks  C: Al Horford - Atlanta Hawks

This is the same lineup the Celtics saw back in November so nothing has changed. When they have no injuries the Hawks are a very active and up tempo team. In what I consider to basically be a starter is Jamal Crawford off the bench. He puts up big numbers for the Hawks, more than most of the starters on any given night. So we will have to watch out for him getting starter like minutes.

Key Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. Al Horford
For me this isn’t even a question. What kills us against this team is when they get second chance points because we play great defense, but dont finish it off by getting the rebound. Because that is who they are, the Celtics need to do a better job at putting a body on people and getting the board so they can send it back up the other way, instead of having to play great defense twice in a row. It doesn’t matter how well the C’s play D, eventually an NBA player is going to hit a contested shot. That is what the Hawks did in November, and it starts with Horford down low. Perkins allowed Horford to grab 13 rebounds, 4 of which were of the offensive type. For the Celtics to do what they have to do, they need to finish the Hawks offensive possession, especially on the road in Atlanta.

If the Celtics can take this game tonight, it would be huge going into another tough matchup in Tornto against the Raptors on Sunday. Directly after that they will be at it again on Monday against the Hawks at the TD Garden. In the game against the Heat we saw the determination of the C’s to fight back, and they will have to show it again tonight in a tough arena to play in.

(All Player Photos Via NBAYahooSports)

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