Boston Celtics: 2012Game64
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Fiction. This isn't like 2008, when the Celtics' core was playing its first series together and needed home-court advantage for each of its playoff victories against the Hawks. Yes, both regular-season games have been close, but one came the day after the Celtics won in Miami, the other in Atlanta after Boston had five West Coast games in seven days.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Fiction. The Hawks could certainly beat the Celtics, but "handle" is too strong a way to put it. I think what we're more likely to see is a reprisal of the classic seven-game first-round series the two teams played in 2008.
Rob Peterson, ESPN.com: Fiction. I think it's the other way around. I don't think the Hawks -- or longtime observers of the Hawks -- ever know what they're going to get from game-to-game or from quarter-to-quarter. What I do know is that the Celtics have more of a killer instinct than the Hawks and Boston is not afraid to act on that instinct.
Brian Robb, CelticsHub: Fiction. I expect any series between these squads to be extremely competitive, with the core players from both squads remaining intact from their seven-game battle in 2008. Atlanta may have home-court advantage, but I expect the determining factor to be defense, and almost nobody has been playing D better than Boston this season.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue & Gold: Fiction. This may be the best Hawks team of the past several years, but even if Al Horford can return in time for the playoffs, they will have trouble scoring against Boston. And while their defense can likely hold a pedestrian Celtics offense in check, I don't trust the Hawks to win a defensive series against the C's.
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1. Should the C's push hard with home-court advantage still hanging in the balance for a potential playoff matchup with the Hawks?
Payne: No, I think the Celtics should be cautious with their players on Friday and hold out who they need to hold out. At this point, I would say health trumps home-court advantage in the first round. The Celtics know they can win on the road if they are healthy and rested, so I'd rather see them pull the throttle back a bit tonight and rest guys if they need it.
Forsberg: I'm sure Rivers gave some consideration to going full throttle with the guys he has -- Rajon Rondo (back), Ray Allen (ankle), and Mickael Pietrus (knee) are not on the trip -- but after seeing how gassed Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were by the end of the Orlando game, it's clear that rest should trump a potential first-round edge (one that's not even guaranteed with a win). The Celtics can lean on the junior varsity and maybe hope that some rare extended court time could bring out their best effort over the last three games. Boston seems content to be without home-court advantage in the first round and now it's all about putting the team in the best position to thrive when the playoffs begin eight days from now.
With a three-day break following Friday's game, the Celtics can give Rondo (back), Allen (ankle), and Pietrus (knee) ample time to rest. It's also unlikely the Celtics will push their rotation players very hard over the final two games of the regular season, simply hoping to have everyone at full strength when the playoffs open later this month.
Hop HERE to read more on each player's status from last night's game coverage.
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