Game 14: Celtics vs. Hawks
November, 22, 2010
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
|(9-4, 4-3 away)||-- vs. --||(8-5, 3-4 home)|
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The Boston Celtics may have been mentally unprepared for their previous two games, but they are likely to come out focused against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Celtics, who are coming off consecutive defeats for the first time all season, will look to avoid their fifth straight loss to the Hawks on Monday night.
After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder 89-84 with Kevin Durant on the sidelines Friday night, Boston came up short in a 102-101 defeat in Toronto on Sunday.
"I know we're a better team than those two teams, I know we are," said Paul Pierce, who's last-second attempt clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded. "It's just mentally coming out and having the right mindset. I don't think we have the right mindset coming into these games against opponents that we're supposed to beat."
Boston has surrendered 106.3 points per game in its previous three road games after limiting teams to 88.3 over the first four, and Kevin Garnett knows that the team needs to bring a better defensive effort going forward.
"We can't just show up. We've got to play some 'D,'" Garnett said after the game. "These teams we're playing against are very high-caliber offense teams. We know what they are. On paper they might not be whatever but as far as talent, this league has a lot of talent and you've got to respect that."
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Thorn in their side: The Hawks swept the regular-season series last year, topping Boston four times, including three times in January. There's a small rivalry here ever since Atlanta took Boston to seven games in the opening round of the 2007-08 playoffs, something coach Doc Rivers said actually contributed to Boston winning it all by providing Boston's first dose of adversity. If Boston got caught sleepwalking against Oklahoma City and Toronto, the Hawks should bring the best out of them (but it won't be easy on the second night of a back-to-back on the road).
- Key player: Crawford: The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Jamal Crawford, thrived against Boston last season, highlighted by a 28-point outburst in the last meeting. Boston's bench was woeful in Toronto and will need to improve its defensive intensity or Crawford has potential to outscore the group on his own (particularly if Nate Robinson is drafted to the starting lineup again should Rajon Rondo sit out with his sore left hamstring).
- Bouncing back: The Celtics were 3-0 on the first game of back-to-backs before falling Sunday in Toronto. Boston is 1-2 on the second night of back-to-backs, including 0-2 on the road, showcasing just how tough this game will be for a veteran squad.