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C's need second (half) effort vs. Hawks

1/11/2010

One key area to watch Monday night when the Boston Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks at the TD Garden is Boston's energy and performance in the second half.

Not only are the Celtics playing the second night of a back-to-back after Sunday's win in Toronto (as part of a stretch with four games in five nights in three cities), but Boston has also struggled mightily in the second half of two losses to the Hawks this season.

Atlanta has outscored Boston, 110-84, in the second half of those first two meetings, easily racing away from the Celtics despite the fact that Boston led both games at halftime.

Said Celtics captain Paul Pierce after Friday's loss in which Atlanta outscored Boston, 29-15, in the third frame: “We didn’t come out focused in the second half and turned the ball over. You can’t do that against a team like Atlanta. We made a run in the fourth quarter and rebounded well all night until late in the game. They had a few offensive rebounds late, and that really hurts when you’re trying to make a comeback. For the most part we’re a very focused team, but the little things is what we didn’t focus on in the third quarter. Screens, defensive assignments, things like that."

And it wouldn't hurt if the Celtics could slow down Jamal Crawford a bit -- a cause a healthy Tony Allen might aid -- after the team's big free-agent signing scored 18 points in each of the first two meetings.