Very Shorthanded C's Host Kinda Shorthanded Hawks

Atlanta Hawks (16-10)  at Boston Celtics (20-4)
Thursday, December 16
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #25, Home Game #12
Radio:  WEEI,  WQXI
TD Garden 
Referees:   Greg Willard, Mark Ayotte, David Jones 
Last Season  the Hawks won the season series 4-0.  It marked the first time since the 1998-99 season that the Celtics had been swept by the Hawks and only the fourth time since the 1960-61 season that the C’s had failed to win a game against Atlanta.  This season started differently with the Celtics notching a 99-76 win in Atlanta in their first meeting.

With Rondo adding a sprained ankle along with the hamstring, knee and foot injuries, Doc needs to sit him for this game.  Rondo said he was going to try to play, but it would be in the best interest of the team and Rondo to sit him for this one.    Nate did a great job of filling in at the point the first time these two met and he should be able to do so again in this one.  Avery Bradley is also waiting in the wings to help out at the point.    The Hawks are playing without their star guard Joe Johnson and will also be without Jamal Crawford who was a key player for them off the bench.   The Celtics are playing without several key players including Shaq, Jermaine, Delonte, and Perk. 

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games after having had a 3 day rest before that.  The Hawks have had one day off after a 103-80  loss to the Pistons.  The Celtics are 10-0 in their last 10 games while the Haws are 7-3 in their last 10.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Nate Robinson vs Mike Bibby

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Maurice Evans

Small Forward 
Paul Pierce vs Marvin Williams

Power Forward 
Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith


Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley 

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist)  out
Shaquille O'Neal (knee,calf)  out 
Rajon Rondo (ankle, hamstring, feet) questionable

Zaza Pachulia
Jeff Teague
Jordan Crawford
Jason Collins
Josh Powell
Etan Thomas 

Pape Sy (back) out
Joe Johnson (elbow) out
Maurice Evans (knee) probable
Jamal Crawford (back) out

Key Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Josh Smith
KG goes from one tough opponent to another as he has the assignment to limit Josh Smith's contributions in this one. 

Nate Robinson vs Mike Bibby
Rondo missed the last game between these two and Nate filled in admirably and was able to outplay Bibby and he should be able to do so again. 

Honorable Mention
Semih Erden vs Al Horford
This will be another tough matchup for Semih.  If Horford gets going early, we may see a lot of Big Baby or small ball. 

Keys to the Game
Go to the Basket

Fatigue and Trap Game
The Celtics are playing short handed in the second of back to back games and fatigue could be a problem late in the game.  Pierce and Ray both played over 40 minutes with KG adding 36 minutes against the Knicks.     Also the Celtics must focus on this game and not take them for granted.  They could be tempted to take them lightly with Johnson and Crawford out but that would be a mistake.   They have to come in and play hard or Atlanta may surprise them as they look to avenge their earlier loss.