Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson (2) drives against Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass, left, and forward Paul Pierce (34) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Boston on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Photo: Elise Amendola / AP Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/sports/article/Rondo-carries-road-weary-Celtics-to-win-over-Hawks-3476047.php#ixzz1scIZqs7W

4/20 Game Day Preview: Hawks vs. Celtics


Who?: Atlanta Hawks (5th in the East) vs. the Boston Celtics (4th in the East)

What?: NBA Eastern Conference rivalry game (Game #63; Home game #30)

When?: Friday April 20th, 2012- (7:00 Eastern Time)

How?: SportSouth, ESPN, 680 The Fan and 93.7 FM, NBA Audio League Pass

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan SiteAJC BlogPeachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)

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Projected Starting Lineups: 

Atlanta Hawks:

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Kirk Hinrich | SF: Joe Johnson | PF: Josh Smith | C: Jason Collins

Boston Celtics:

PG: Keyon Dooling | SG: Avery Bradley | SF: Sasha Pavlovic | PF: Brandon Bass | C: Greg Stiemsma

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Injury/ Inactive Players Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery) and Zaza Pachulia (sprained left foot)

Boston: Ray Allen (ankle), Mickael Pietrus (knee), and Rajon Rondo (back) did not travel to Atlanta. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are doubtful for Friday night’s game.

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Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold:

Records: The Hawks are (37-25). The Celtics are (37-26)

Streaks: ATLANTA- OVERALL: Won 2/ Home: Won 1/ Away: Won 1

BOSTON- OVERALL: Won 1/ Home: Won 1/ Away: Lost 1

Away/Home: The Celtics are (15-17) on the road. The Hawks are (20-9) at home.

Against +/- .500 teams: The Hawks are (11-20) against +.500 teams. The Celtics are (14-17) against +.500 teams.

Atlanta Hawks: Hot. After getting embarrassed by the Raptors last Sunday, the Hawks have won their last two games by a combined total of 54 points.

Boston Celtics: Lukewarm. They narrowly escaped the Dwight Howard-less Magic and were dominated by the Knicks in the last week.

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Season/Past Season Series:

The Hawks are 0-2 against the Celtics this year. They’ve lost by a combined total of five points in the two games and took Boston to overtime in a game just 9 days ago when they lost 88-86. The Hawks lost their previous meeting 79-76 as Joe Johnson’s 25 points and Zaza Pachulia’s 13 boards couldn’t give Atlanta the victory.

The Hawks went 1-2 against the Celtics just a season ago when they were smacked by the Celtics in the first two games, but won the last one 88-83 in a statement victory.

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Game Preview:

The Atlanta Hawks should get an easy one tonight with Boston sitting all of their “Big 4,” along with important role player Mickael Pietrus. However, this is a must-win game for the Hawks as it would put them two games ahead of Boston in the loss column with three games to go (two games after this for Boston) in the season. Atlanta’s final three games are against the Knicks, Clippers, and Mavericks, and so long as the Hawks win this game, a win against one of those three and a Boston loss would clinch home-court advantage in the first round.

It’s imperative that the Hawks come in with the same mind set they’ve shown in the last two games: step on their throats early and don’t take your foot off– press harder. Atlanta has lost several games against undermanned teams that they should have beaten this season, such as the Raptors without Calderon and Bargnani, the Heat without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and the Bulls without Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton.

While calling the Celtics “undermanned” for Friday night’s game might be the understatement of the year, the Hawks can’t let Boston have any sort of allusion of hanging around. Joe Johnson called out the team’s effort at the Raptors loss last Sunday. Hopefully he won’t have to do it again on Friday night.

 

Tags: Al Horford Andrea Bargnani Atlanta Hawks Avery Bradley Boston Celtics Brandon Bass Derrick Rose Detroit Pistons Dwight Howard Greg Stiemsma Jason Collins Jeff Teague Joe Johnson Jose Calderon Josh Smith Kevin Garnett Keyon Dooling Kirk Hinrich LeBron James Mickael Pietrus Orlando Magic Paul Pierce Rajon Rondo Ray Allen Richard Hamilton Sasha Pavlovic Toronto Raptors Zaza Pachulia