CelticsHub: Previewing the Hawks series
Do the Hawks have a surprise x-factor on their roster?
* Brian Robb: Willie Green. Any time you have a guy coming off the bench that is shooting 44 percent, you have to at least take some notice. even if it’s Willie Green. The shooting guard won’t play much defense, but has been a sparkplug for Altanta, serving as a very poor man’s Jamal Crawford for this year’s squad. If he gets going on the offensive end, he could make life tough for Boston’s D.
* Ryan DeGama: It might actually be Joe Johnson, who has the potential to be the best offensive player in this series, particularly if he starts at the SG spot. Johnson’s been hot since the all-star break (48FG%, 44% from the arc) and neither Avery Bradley (small) nor Ray Allen (old, injured) matches up well against him. That means Boston will rely on Mickael Pietrus, whose health remains an ongoing concern. I don’t like Paul Pierce as a primary Johnson defender because he needs to conserve energy for the second and third rounds where Luol Deng and LeBron James will be waiting.
* Hayes Davenport: Jeff Teague. He’s maybe the only player on this team who can both shoot threes and consistently get to the rim, and as Boston focuses its energies on forcing Johnson and Smith to take difficult shots, Boston guards will probably be helping off Teague much of the time. If they do, he’ll be free to receive a kickout and either take an open three or cut to the basket, bailing out the blown Hawks possessions that are essential for Boston to pile up.
* Michael Pina: The Hawks are the Hawks are the Hawks—a talented group that unfortunately hit their ceiling three years ago. But the one player I’d say has the slightest sliver of a chance at becoming Atlanta’s x-factor is their newest member, Jeff Teague. Filling in for an injured Kirk Hinrich in last year’s second round series against the Bulls, Teague was a major reason why the Hawks pushed one of the league’s best teams to six games. He’s very quick, but has a tendency to poke an opposing team’s proverbial Hornet’s nest which usually gets both him and his team in deep trouble. He’s the closest thing Atlanta has to an x-factor, but against Boston he should be well contained by one of the league’s best defensive back courts.
* Brendan Jackson: Zaza Pachulia. The Hawks’ big man is a complete nuisance. Just the type of player the Celtics hate to play against but would love to have off their bench. Luckily for the C’s, Pachulia is hampered by a foot injury. If he is healthy for any part of this series, his activity level on the glass and in the paint could swing the momentum in the Hawks favor.
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