Tonight's matchup is a classic case of both teams attempting to define who they are.
On one side, you have the Celtics. Words like old, hurt, tired and falling contender are being thrown around. I am not saying I agree with all these words, but a lot of them are coming from Celtics fans so they don't simply reprent jealous hate speak. Although I am fine with being accused of such activity.
And so Boston has this Hawks game. The second of a back to back, on the road, against a team looking to sweep them. This is there chance to say, "Watch these old legs execute for 48 minutes. We are a championship team. We don't get swept." Followed by 42 F bombs by Kevin Garnett.
For our Hawks squad, they have have grown into a team that not only can beat anyone, but for the most part, does beat anyone. The problem comes on those "other team's back to the wall" type of games. Those San Antonio games. In those games, they have yet to find the energy to match desperation. It makes sense. This team has never had to play against desperation before. But for Atlanta to take the next step, signs of desperation have to become symbols for blood in the water not worry about another team's best effort. They have to see tired legs coming off a back to back. They have to know who is the home team. The Hawks have to believe they are better in this situation no matter how focused the Celtics are. They have to go for the kill.
Outside of sweeping themes, Ray Allen appeared to have his shot back against Orlando. I expect Paul Pierce to bounce back from last night's bad showing. I can't say the same for KG. Perkins should be fresh because of foul trouble and undoubtedly angry because, well, he is always angry. And Rondo is Rondo, and that is a someone who scares me on both a basketball and life level.
For the Hawks, Joe Johnson enjoys making piano music against the Celtics. Mostly because no one on Boston has shown an ability to guard him. Josh Smith should have an adequate supply of hate filled effort. Marvin, almost weirdly, always gets up for Boston. And Al Horford could just as easily foul Perkins out in 25 minutes or be totally shut down.
Just typing these thoughts gets me excited. I don't even need to bring up Bibby or Crawford or Zaza doing something goonish and full of good intentions. It is the Celtics, and we are trying to sweep them. Can't get much better than this.
Keys to the game:
- Channeled, righteous destructiion of revenge by non all-star Josh Smith. Talking biblical proportions here.
- No panic. Orlando was down big in the forth quarter. Pound the post. Rebound the ball. Wear the Celtics down.
- Rajon Rondo is the real all-star on the Celtics. Treat him accordingly.
- Avoid the Celtics transition three pointer.
- Again, rebound the ball. KG has zero offensive rebounds since coming back from injury. I think the Hawks could win this one simply on the boards.
Heading to Philips. I am not bringing my broom, mostly because I am overly burdened carrying all my Celtic animosity. Go Hawks!