Having just completed a four-game road trip on which they pulled an oh-fer, the Boston Celtics retreat to the safety of the TD
Garden and begin a five-game homestand tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.
Boston and Atlanta have already played twice this season, with each team earning one victory ‘gainst t’other. Boston won the series opener, 94-87, but fell by one to the Hawks on New Year’s Eve, 92-91. Neither of those games featured point guard Rajon Rondo, who was still rehabbing following last-season’s ACL injury. Rondo will play in this one, although the Celtics will be missing Avery Bradley (knee) and Jared Sullinger (concussion) tonight.
Take your time getting healthy, boys! It’s easier to tank – and easier to justify tanking – with you on the sidelines!
As will be the case many times the remainder of the season, this game presents two teams trying to reach vastly different goals. As I explained yesterday, the Boston Celtics are playing for a prime spot in the draft lottery – no ifs, ands or buts about it. I expect the Celtics to compete, and I want to see growth from Rondo, Kelly Olynyk, and Phil Pressey, but this team wasn’t built to win, and you and I know it. Boston has lost five in a row, and are allowing opponents to light them up for 104 points and 49.8% shooting per game during that skid. Obviously, I want to see them commit to playing better defensively, but right now Boston is a team that is finding itself on the wrong end of too many matchups, and I look for that to continue right up to April 16.
The Hawks, on the other hand, may be sitting at 26-30, but they also currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta has been hit hard by injuries, with Al Horford lost for the rest of the season due to a torn muscle and Jeff Teague having missed some games lately due to a sprained ankle, but still hold a 3.5 game lead over 9th-place Detroit. Stuck in that no man’s land of being just good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to make it out of the first round, the Hawks at least can cling to the hope of making it to the playoffs to gain valuable experience to help them make it even farther next year once they are healthy again.
Tonight’s game is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. You know I’ll be tuning in, so follow me on Twitter – @HoudiniCeltics and @theamazingMrS – and for Pete’s sake talk to me! Keep me entertained! Then check back in with me here as I make sense of the game action. Let’s go Celtics (although whether you want them to win, or lose, I’ll leave up to you!)