Scoreboard Watching: Celtics Keep Pressure on Hawks
The Boston Celtics got Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back Sunday, got a win and kept the pressure on the Hawks in what has become a two-team race for the six seed.
Neither Pierce nor Garnett led the team in scoring, that honor went to Brandon Bass with 20 points, but the 107-96 win over Washington pulled Boston to within 1.5 games of Atlanta. As it stands today, the Celtics would play the New York Knicks in the first round. However, if they can move up to six, they’ll likely get the Indiana Pacers. It’s a significant difference for the Celtics, who are 2-0 against Indiana this season but just 1-3 against New York.
The way the Knicks are playing, avoiding them first may not be such a bad idea. They went into Oklahoma City and notched their 12th straight win Sunday afternoon, beating the Thunder 125-120 behind Carmelo Anthony’s 36 points. The win all but assures the Knicks of the two seed in the East, which means home-court advantage for at least two rounds.
In a game that has far less significance for the Hawks than it would have a week ago, the Chicago Bulls lost 99-85 in Detroit. The Bulls still have what is essentially a three-game lead on Atlanta because they own the tiebreaker. That kind of ground is nearly impossible to make up with just nine days left in the season.
Biggest winner: Celtics
No team wants to avoid New York more than Boston. With Pierce and Garnett healthy, this is a different team.
Biggest loser: Pacers
It sounds weird that by not playing, a team can lose, but the Pacers probably thought they had a chance to gain some ground Sunday with the Knicks in Oklahoma City. Now it appears they’ll be headed to the Garden in game one of the Eastern Conference semifinals should both teams advance.
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