BOSTON, MA - MARCH 8: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics drives the ball against Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks on March 8, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Game Preview: (Updated) Atlanta Hawks Head to Beantown for Pivotal Battle Against Boston Celtics

UPDATE – Al Horford and Devin Harris are game-time decisions.

Horford has been dealing with a stomach illness and did not particapate in Friday morning’s shootaround. He’s doubtful.

Harris missed the last two games with a sore left foot. He did take part in the shootaround.

Johan Petro will start at center if Horford can’t go.

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The Atlanta Hawks head to Beantown for the fourth and final meeting of the regular season against the hated Boston Celtics.

This is a pivotal battle with playoff-seeding contentions as the Hawks sit just 2.5 games ahead of the Celtics at the sixth spot in the East standings. The C’s hold the seventh seed, just 2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Boston has gotten the better of Atlanta thus far, winning two of the three games already played. They won the first meeting of the year on Jan. 5 in Atlanta 89-81. The Hawks got revenge at home 20 days later when they outlasted those chowder heads 123-111 in 2OT. But the Celtics reclaimed the upper hand with a 107-102 OT win in Boston on March 8, taking a 2-1 series lead.

The C’s have been struggling as of late, but just snapped a five-game losing streak thanks to Jeff Green’s buzzer beater on Wednesday in Cleveland. Green has stepped up big time since veteran leader Kevin Garnett went down with an injury, including leading Boston in Wednesday’s win with 21 points seven rebounds. He’s averaging 21.4 points on 52.6 percent shooting — including 12 for 23 from 3-point range — in seven starts this season.

Paul Pierce is averaging 26.5 points for Boston in the two wins and was held to 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting in the loss.

Hawks point guard Jeff Teague has averaged 22.0 points on 55.6 percent shooting in the three meetings. He needs to be the x-factor tonight in order for the team to get over their recent woes in Boston.

The Hawks have dropped 15-of-17 in Beantown, including the 2008 and 2012 playoffs.

Despite being on enemy soil, with Garnett and Rajon Rondo — who suffered a season-ending torn ACL injury against the Hawks on March 8 — inactive for tonight’s matchup, this is a game Atlanta must win.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics

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