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Last season, the Hawks pushed the Celtics to the brink in a startling seven-game opening-round playoff series. The Celtics prevailed, and after a slightly bumpy road, won their 17th NBA Championship. Heading into this season, the Hawks were thinking they could compete with the C’s, despite the fact that Boston was the defending NBA Champion.
Then…the Celtics swept the season series with the Hawks in convincing fashion. The latest edition was Friday night’s 104-92 win, thanks in large part to a huge effort from Kendrick Perkins. The C’s center finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and seven blocked shots.
The Celts also got big games from Paul Pierce (a team-high 21 points) and Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who’s really starting to put up some nice totals in the absence of Kevin Garnett. Big Baby shot 7-10 from the field and 5-6 from the FT line to finish with 19 points, and one thunderous block on a Solomon Jones dunk attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Of all the teams the Celtics play (other than the Cavs and Lakers), I really enjoy watching the Hawks. I love seeing Al Horford and Josh Smith play and I think with those two players, Atlanta has a really bright future. I also love seeing Rajon Rondo (20 points, six assists, two steals) run circles around Mike Bibby, which he did yet again Friday.
The Cavs got killed by the Magic (116-87 on Friday), which means that the Celtics are within shouting distance of the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Don’t expect the Celtics to push hard for something seemingly out of reach, and to just play each game one at a time and see where they end up. (Jeez, I sound like an NBA coach).
The Celtics have four full days of rest and next play on Wednesday against the Nets.