Scouting Report: Boston Celtics
The Celtics return home for the first game at TD Garden since before the All-Star break. They began post-break play with a four-game west coast road trip – a trip that saw them go 0-4. Back home for the first time, I expect they’ll play with some newfound energy.
Boston looks a little different than they did in December when the Hawks beat them by one.
Gone are guards Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee (trades), but Rajon Rondo is now healthy, and Backup point guard Jerryd Bayless is filling Lee’s role. Rondo presents problems even as the Celtics have struggled. He’s a tough guard because he can make so many plays and has such great court vision, so it’ll be yet another challenge for Jeff Teague. In 13 games back after ACL surgery, Rondo is averaging 10 points and almost eight assists. He loves penetrating and either using that penetration to create a shot for himself or find a teammate. They key is to bait him into contested jump shots. He’s shooting just 39 percent, and it gets worse as he gets further from the basket.
Jeff Green is still Boston’s engine, and he’ll once again be Atlanta’s focal point on the defensive end. Despite not having the services of their premiere wing defender DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta still held Green to just eight points, primarily because Coach Bud went big, using Mike Scott to defend him. Carroll will be available this time around, and I expect he’ll start (and finish) on Green.
One guy the Hawks will continue to miss is Paul Millsap, who remains sidelined. Millsap put up a season-high 34 points in the Dec. 31 game against the Celtics, so Atlanta will have to find a way to make up for that lost production in other ways. Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon also played that day, so it’ll be a different-looking Hawks team this time around.
Boston is struggling, having lost five straight overall. They’re near the bottom of the league in assists and rebounds, and with the season all but over for the storied Beantown franchise, this is hopefully an opportunity that the Hawks can take advantage of. A win would mean a sweep in a building that has been a house of horrors for the Hawks in recent years, and it would also give them a boost of confidence in the first of six straight road games.
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