In one of the many schedule quirks of the 2011-12 shortened season, the Hawks will face the Boston Celtics for the first time with less then a third of the games remaining. Atlanta enters the contest riding a a two-game winning streak, while Boston has dropped their last two.
Coach Drew is always quick to warn that a "wounded animal can be the most dangerous," meaning a team that is deparate for a win will play with a higher sense of urgency. Boston is in the middle of a eight-game road trip, and tonight will be their first game back East after playing four games against Western Conference opponents.
>> Hawks - Al Horford (pectoral muscle) and Jannero Pargo (appendix) are both out. Marvin Williams )hip flexor), Willie Green (hamstring), Vladimir Radmanovic (back) all missed Sunday's game in Cleveland and are listed as day-to-day. Tracy McGrady (rest) is not on the official injury report at the moment, but could be questionable for tonight as he has been given a rest when the team plays two nights in a row previously this season.
>> Celtics - Chris Wilcox (Aorta condition) is out, while Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Paul Pierce (ankle) are listed as day-to-day but should see action tonight.
Keys to the Game:
Since returning to (close to) full strength after battling tendonitis in his knee earlier this month, Joe is averaging 25.7 ppg while shooting well above .500 from the field and from behind the arc. Joe has already hit 20 3-pointers this month (6 games) after making only 15 from long range the entire month of February (11 games). With the Hawks missing several perimeter scorers due to injury/illness, they will need Johnson to stay aggressive and accurate.
The Hawks are playing the back-end of a back-to-back, but the early start yesterday (3pm tip) should have gotten them back to Atlanta early enough to get a full night's rest in their own beds. Meanwhile, Boston had yesterday off, but they are returning to the Eastern time zone after playing four games in California. Look for Atlanta to again feature their smaller starting lineup and try to "hit first" and push the pace against the Celtics' older frontcourt.
- Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers played for the Hawks from 1983-1991.
- Tracy McGrady played for Rivers in Orlando from 2000-2004.
- Joe Johnson was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 10th overall pick in
the 2001 draft.