Atlanta Hawks' Joe Johnson defends Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce during 1st half action at Philips Arena, Monday, March 19, 2012.

2012 NBA Playoffs: Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics Game 3 Preview & All You Need To Know

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

What?: 2012 NBA Playoffs First Round – Game 3

Where?: TD Garden (Boston, MA)

When?: Friday, May 4 – 7:30 p.m. (ET)

 How?: AtlantaSportSouth HD (TV), ESPN (TV)  & 98.9 FM // Boston – Comcast Sportsnet (TV), ESPN (TV) & 850 AM (WEEI)

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: Marvin Williams | C: Jason Collins

Boston Celtics:

PG: Rajon Rondo | SG: Avery Bradley | SF: Paul Pierce | PF: Brandon Bass | C: Kevin Garnett

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Injury/Inactive Players Report:

Atlanta Hawks: Zaza Pachulia (sprained left foot) and Josh Smith (strained tendon, left knee) are day-to-day. Al Horford (left pectoral surgery) is out.

Boston Celtics: Ray Allen (sore right ankle) is day-to-day.

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

Records: Atlanta Hawks are (40-26; 1-1). Boston Celtics are (39-27; 1-1)

Streak: Atlanta Hawks –> OVERALL: Lost 1 / HOME: Lost 1 / ROAD: N/A

Boston Celtics –> OVERALL: Won 1 / HOME: N/A / ROAD: Won 1

Away/Home Redcords: Atlanta is (17-16) on the road this season & Boston is (24-9) at home this season.

 Against .500 teams: Hawks are (14-21) against teams over .500 & Celtics are (18-20) against teams  over .500 this season.

Atlanta Hawks: Cold. The Hawks had a great chance to go up 2-0 on Tuesday especially with Rondo serving his 1-game suspension for bumping an official but Atlanta lost the game at home 87-80 and also lost Josh Smith in the process who left the game with a knee injury with just 4:20 remaining. With all momentum gone, Hawks must now go on the road tied in the series as Rondo returns for Boston and Atlanta’s without their most effective player.

Boston Celtics: Hot. Paul Pierce channeled his inner Tim Tebow and pulled out a miraculous win on the road when all signs pointed to failure. Boston was without Rondo but obviously that wasn’t much of a problem for them. After tying the series, they now go home and play two straight with their star point guard back in the line-up.

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Season/Past Season Series:

SERIES NOTES

* For the second straight year, the Hawks dropped the season series to the Celtics, 2-1
* The teams met in the 2007-08 Playoffs (first round), with the top-seeded Celtics coming out with a 4-3 series win over the
eighth-seeded Hawks, each team winning all their home contests … It was Atlanta’s first playoff series since the 1999 postseason.
* Doc Rivers played for Atlanta from 1983-91 and is the club’s all-time leader in assists (3,866).
* Joe Johnson was drafted by the Celtics (10th
overall in 2001) and played in 48 games before being dealt to the Suns.
* Josh Smith and Rajon Rondo were roommates at Oak Hill Academy.
* Celtics assistant Armond Hill served in the same capacity with the Hawks in 2003-04 and is a former Hawk (six seasons).
* Doc Rivers coached Zaza Pachulia with Orlando in 2003-04.
* Hawks scout Greg Ballard coached Kevin Garnett (1999-2004) during his time with Minnesota.
* Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue was a Hawk from 2004-08 (189 games).

PLAYOFF GAME #1 (Apr. 29)
ATL 83, BOS 74 (Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA)
The Hawks led from start to finish, knocking off the Celtics 83-74 at Philips Arena on Sunday to take a 1-0 series lead … Josh Smith led the way with 22 points and a postseason career-best 18 rebounds … Jeff Teague scored 15 points, Kirk Hinrich 12 and Joe Johnson 11 … Atlanta opened the game on a 20-6 run, pushed the lead to as many as 17, before settling for a 31-18 edge after one … Both teams played solid defense in the quarter but the Hawks won the stanza, 18-17, to take a 49-35 advantage at the break (after being up 19) … Boston managed to cut it to 65-53 after three and 78-74 with one minute to play, but Johnson, Smith and Teague all hit clutch free throws down the stretch to ice it for the home team … The Celtics finished 0-11 from three-point range and shot .390 overall … Atlanta won the battle of the boards 50-41 … Kevin Garnett (20 points\12 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (20 points\11 assists) each had double-doubles for the Celtics … The Hawks reserves outscored their Boston counterparts 17-4.

Top Scorer Top Rebounder
BOS: Rondo, Garnett (20) / Garnett (12)
ATL: Smith (22) / Smith(18)

PLAYOFF GAME #2 (May 1)
BOS 87, ATL 80 (Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA)
The Hawks let an 11-point second half lead get away, falling to Boston 87-80 at Philips Arena on Tuesday … Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 22 points, Jeff Teague put in 18 and Josh Smith tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds before leaving the game late with a sprained left knee … A backand-forth opening quarter, featuring 6 ties and 5 lead changes, ended with the teams deadlocked at 24 … Both clubs struggled shooting in the first half but it was Atlanta taking a 44-41 advantage to the break … Paul Pierce had 16 points for Boston in the first 24 minutes, while Teague put in 12 for the Hawks … The Hawks led by as many as 11 in the third but the Celtics were able to trim it to 66-61 heading to the final frame … Boston
reclaimed the lead at 72-70 with 6 minutes to play in the game and slowly pulled away as the offense abandoned Atlanta in the fourth (14 points) … The Hawks shot .349 from the field for the game and made 16-20 FTs, while the Celtics shot .426 and hit 26-31 from the charity stripe … Pierce posted game-highs of 36 points and 14 rebounds, and Kevin Garnett had 15 points and 12 boards.

Top Scorer / Top Rebounder
BOS: Pierce (36) / Pierce (14)
ATL: J. Johnson (22) / Smith (12)

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Game Preview:

Josh Smith is not expected to play.

Smoove was diagnosed officially with a strained tendon in his left knee on Wednesday after an MRI and has been resting for the past three days. He participated in the shootaround earlier today but apparently had some issues.

According to ESPN News Services, “Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith told ESPN’s Lisa Salters on Friday that he didn’t think he could play with his knee injury Friday against the Boston Celtics.”

This is a huge blow for the Hawks who lost the game on Tuesday and are now tied 1-1 with Boston in the series. To make it worse, Rondo didn’t even play in the game because he was serving his 1-game suspension for bumping the ref in Game 2.

Paul Pierce went off in the game and set the tone early after stealing a pass and scoring the first two points in the contest. He poured in 36 points in the game and pulled down 14 rebounds — both career playoff-high’s.

Now Atlanta has to play Game 3 on the road without their three most talented big men (Smith, Horford and Pachulia) in the line-up, meanwhile the Celtics will be at full strength. Ray Allen is expected to play in Game 3, even if for a limited portion – Allen hasn’t played since April 10 because of bone spurs in his right ankle.

It my guess that Marvin Williams will get the start at the 4 tonight while rookie power forward Ivan Johnson come off the bench. Jason Collins and Erick Dampier are the only two centers available tonight for Atlanta. Johnson is our most active big and will be better utilized coming off the bench to give Williams a rest and provide the Hawks with some intensity.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Avery Bradley Boston Celtics Brandon Bass Ivan Johnson Jason Collins Jeff Teague Joe Johnson Josh Smith Kevin Garnett Kirk Hinrich Marvin Williams NBA Playoffs Paul Pierce Rajon Rondo Ray Allen

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