Game 2: Defending Home Court
With Rajon Rondo suspended for Game 2 tonight at the Highlight Factory, many are anticipating an easier road to victory for the Hawks. Joe Johnson knows better than to take anything for granted, especially during the playoffs.
“This is a totally different time of the year,” Joe said this morning after shootaround. “We understand that if one guy goes out another one can step up and play big. We’re very aware of that.”
Then Joe added an emphatic promise: “There won’t be a letdown tonight.”
The most significant piece of Rondo’s game that will be missed by the Celtics is his ability to set up his teammates. His ability to get into the lane and deliver the ball to players in position to score is a unique skill set in basketball, and the players that will be handling the ball in his place (Bradley, Pierce and possibly Allen) will provide a different challenge.
“Now whoever is at the point is probably more of a scorer than anything,” said Joe. “So some of the coverages are going to change a little bit.”
MATCH-UPS TO WATCH
Johnson vs. Pierce
Both All-Stars struggled through poor shooting nights in Game 1, and you can count on their production increasing tonight. Joe scored only one point in the second half on Sunday, finishing with 11 points and missing all nine of his attempts from long range. Paul was not much better, scoring 12 points and finishing 0-for-6 from behind the arc.
“We’re anticipating (Pierce) handling the ball more and him having more shot attempts,” Coach Drew said this morning. “We just have to be ready for it.”
Ivan vs. KG
Playoff games are almost always physical, but Garnett and Ivan Johnson take things to another level. The Celtics use KG for a lot of ball screens, which early in the season would have caused problems for Ivan. Early in the year he would get lost after forcing the dribbler wide with a hard show, and would be late recovering to his own man. Johnson was not hurt by these sets on Sunday, and should be ready again tonight.