WHO: Atlanta (6-0) at Boston (7-1)
Injury Report: Josh Smith is out.
For Entertainment Purposes Only: Boston -11, 181.5 o/u
Blogging With the Enemy: CelticsBlog
- The Hawks are of the opinion that their perfect start (the imperfection of a Josh Smith injury notwithstanding) has its roots in their first-round playoff loss to the Celtics.
"That series is where this confidence began. That series has done so much, starting with the confidence, but also because we were humbled in the end, it let us know we can play with the best. That’s why we have this chip on our shoulder right now. It’s made us come out aggressive this year from the start."
"I’d just like to win one game up there. They’re a great team. But we came so close in that series. If we could have just pulled one game out on their floor, we’d have shocked the world."
"I just think about how they were able to get it done from beginning to end. They had three guys, and still have those three guys in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, those three great players that carried them. But make no mistake about it, their defense is what won that title. They refused to give in from a defensive standpoint, and I’m talking about every single step of the way. People that don’t understand that aren’t really examining that team and what they did the way they should."
Maybe the underlying problem is that Mike Woodson hangs out with the few people that didn't recognize and give credit to the Celtics for being the best defensive team in the league. I don't think anyone was writing stories or talking about the Celtics winning 66 games because of their offense.
Mike Fratello also buys this premise:
"They played that seven-game series against the eventual world champions. Guys go home and think about it in the offseason and say, ‘This is fun. This is what it’s supposed to be about. Let’s come back with that same type of commitment.’ That’s the case with Atlanta, and I think you see the results of that now."
- Marty Burns addresses the same theme at SI.com:
Seven months after shocking the NBA by extending the Celtics to seven games in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Hawks have used the memory of that near-miss to fuel a 6-0 start that had them sitting alone atop the Eastern Conference heading into Wednesday night's rematch against the reigning champions in Boston.
Burns also includes this quote from Mike Woodson:
"From Day One, in exhibition season, [Boston] took pride in defending and rebounding, and it carried over to the regular season. That's why they were the best team in the regular season."
It all comes back to the importance of exhibition games for Coach Woodson.
- SI.com's roundtable votes 3-2 against "buying" the Hawks. Chris Mannix falls back on the tired idea of Josh Smith as a "powder keg waiting to explode," Steve Aschburner strains to elaborate on the question's financial metaphor, and Marty Burns gives a hedge of an answer that I read as tipping ever so slightly to the negative. Ian Thomsen and Jack McCallum are on the bandwagon.
- At Idolator, Lucas Jensen takes a circuitous path to posting this classic Hawks video but I feel the trip is worth it.
- CoCo cracks me up:
Nothing would please me more than for the Hawks to win in the Garden, or whatever the hell it's called tonight.
- John Hollinger (Insider) believes "there is a 99.1 percent chance that the Hawks are a good team."
If the Hawks were an average team and played an average schedule over the first six games (Atlanta's schedule was probably more difficult than average, but just play along with me here), the odds of their winning six straight, when four of the six are on the road, would be just 0.9 percent...As for the idea that they'll go 31-51, as some crackpot said before the season started -- well, that can be dismissed even more readily. Using the same assumptions as above, there is only a 0.17 percent chance that a 31-win team could pull off such a feat in its first six games.
- Finally, from Hardwood Paroxysm's 15 footer:
What if the Hawks beat the Celtics tonight?
Think about it. You would be looking at an undefeated team that will have beaten Toronto, Philadelphia, Orlando, New Orleans, and Boston, and be on a three game winning streak without Josh Smith. Beating up the Clippers twice and a Mavs team they own it ain't. That's a schedule that stands with anyone.
What do we do at that point? Panic? Buy high, sell low? Build altars? Throw keggers? Paint faces? Seriously, if the Hawks without their second best player beat the defending world champions on the road to remain undefeated, don't we have to have some sort of worldwide day of celebration? Bigger than Obama winning? I think so. Okay. Too far.