at Atlanta Hawks (17-14) at Boston Celtics (13-17)
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
1:00 PM ET
Game #31 Home Game #17
TV: CSNNE, SportSouth, NBA-LP 752(DTV)/751,753(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, WQXI
Probable Starting Matchups
Jordan Crawford vs Jeff TeagueShooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Lou Williams Small Forward
Jeff Green vs Kyle Korver Power Forward
Brandon Bass vs Paul Millsap Center
Jared Sullinger vs Elton BrandCeltics Reserves
Rajon Rondo (ACL)out Hawks Reserves
DeMarre Carroll (thumb) out
Cartier Martin (ankle) questionable
John Jenkins (leg) out
Al Horford (shoulder) out Key Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Paul Millsap
Millsap has been playing very well this year for the Hawks, averaging 17.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. Bass's defensive strengths should make this a good matchup.
Jared Sullinger vs Elton Brand
With Al Horford out, this could be a matchup that favors the Celtics. Brand is a big body in the paint and a very good player, but he has also lost a step over the years. Honorable Mention
Jordan Crawford vs Jeff Teague
Teague has become a very good point guard and is averaging 17.0 points, 8.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. If Teague gets hot, we may see Avery on him and Crawford defending against Lou Williams. It will be important to slow Teague down.
The Celtics host the Hawks in the second of 4 meetings between these two teams this season. The Celtics won the first meeting in Atlanta 94-87. The Celtics have extra motivation to beat the Hawks in that they will more than likely own the Hawks' pick in this year's draft and every loss improves that pick.
Atlanta is currently in the 3rd spot in the East, 6.5 games behind the Heat, who are in the second spot. The Celtics are in 8th and 1 game behind the Raptors, who hold the 4th spot by virtue of leading the Atlantic Division.
The Hawks lost their center and best player when Al Horford went out with a shoulder injury. Horford is a two-time NBA All-Star who is the Hawks leading scorer (18.6 points per game) and rebounder (8.4 rebounds per game). Losing him was a major loss, but they are still a very tough team even without him. The Celtics can't take them lightly.
This is the Celtics second consecutive afternoon game. They are 2-1 in matinee games this season. Afternoon games tend to favor the home team. Let's hope the Celtics have their minds on the game and aren't planning their New Year's Even celebrations. Keys to the GamePlay 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have been getting off to fast starts and big leads. But, in the second half, they stop running, stop moving the ball, and stop going to the basket. They have to keep doing what works right until the final buzzer.
Defend the Perimeter
- The Hawks depend on the three to score. They are 3rd in the league, making 9.5 3's per game and are making 38.3% of their shots from beyond the arc. They have several good shooters from distance and the Celtics must up their perimeter defense.
- The Celtics must crash the boards as a team, especially the guards. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics must be the team that wins the rebounding battle. Set the Pace
- The Celtics have to run on every possession. Part of the reason they have given up big leads is that they stop running, stop pushing the ball inside, and stop moving the ball. They have to keep up the pace for the entire game.
X-Factors Matinee and Focus
Matinee games usually favor the home team and that would be the Celtics in this game. They should also get a boost from the home crowd. Hopefully they will keep their focus in this game and not be thinking about their New Years Eve plans.