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KC and Sports of Boston’s Geoff contributed to this piece in reaction to The Blue Workhorse’s take on the Hawks-Celtics series.
Many accuse Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of being an elitist for his comments about small-town America. As a candidate vying for an office of all the people, it was a careless comment and gave John McCain more fodder for the upcoming presidential race if/when Obama clinches the nomination.
Now Obama’s message about small-town America can certainly be translated to the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics are the #1 seed and the Hawks are the #8 seed. The Celtics won 29 more games in the regular season than the Hawks and are 5-1 against them this season overall. They are significantly better than the Hawks. They have every right to believe they will win this series. In five games.
On the other hand, the guys over at the Blue Workhorse had a really intriguing take on the seemingly harmless first round playoff series. They said that the Hawks will ruin the Celtics title hopes this season. Huh what? Yeah, they made an argument after attending Game 3 that the Hawks will “ultimately lead to the all-powerful Celtics demise.
They believe that the Hawks’ physical play is beginning to turn the series around in Atlanta’s favor, starting with Josh Smith’s hard Game 2 foul on Paul Pierce. All this despite the Hawks getting massacred in the first two games of the series.
However, young teams that have yet to fully mature do one of two things when they start losing badly — the ones that fade away fold while the teams that wind up being successful fight back.
This argument means nothing because in the history of all teams in all sports ever, young teams have either won or lost because unless you tie, you’re winning or losing. Now, to not take his words too figuratively, I’ll assume he means fight back as literal as possible. Basically, the Hawks couldn’t outplay the Celtics, so they just fought them.
They got physical. Paul Pierce got taken down hard early in Game 2 to set the tone and level of physicality that will be seen throughout the remainder of the series.
Sadly, I agree with the guys at the Blue Workhorse. They said the Hawks needed to change the physical tone of the series, and to some degree they did. Eventually, however, young teams get too accustomed to playing physical and will eventually be called for fouls (Big Baby anybody?). I expect the Celtics to go to the FT line plenty through Games 4 and 5.
What can we expect with all those free throws? More and more points up on the scoreboard for the Celtics. The guys at Blue Workhorse even admitted that the Celtics are performing better at the free throw line than the Hawks. The Celtics are shooting .813 from the line while the hawks are .747. With the aggressive playing style, that according to Blue Workhorse, the Hawks NEED to play the Celtics should see plenty of free chances through the rest of the series.
With this physicality argument, they try to say that the veteran Celtics will fall for the tricks of the young Hawks. They are taunting Boston until the C’s fight back and pay the price.
The increased level of physicality and verbal spewing being tossed back and forth is what I believe could ultimately lead to the Celtics demise this postseason. No, I don’t think the Hawks have uncovered some secret gameplan to beating Boston, but by Game 5 (or Game 6, if the Hawks win another game), I do envision there being some sort of altercation that could alter the remainder of the playoffs.
Despite all of his emotional outbursts, I don’t think it will be Garnett that is initially involved or Ray Allen, but Pierce, second year point man Rajon Rondo, or veteran Sam Cassell could each be potential key cogs that are lost for a number of games due to losing their temper.
Totally ridiculous on so many levels: the Hawks will affect the Celtics for the rest of the playoffs because they’ll incite some fight that’ll get Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Sam Cassell ejected and suspended. The chances of that are as good as the Bruins winning the NBA Championship. You cannot base an argument about something you suspect could maybe happen.
The other fact is the Celtics are veterans and understand what is at stake here. They know not to let these young and inexperienced Hawks get in their heads, which would eventually lead to outbursts. Rondo is not a veteran, but it seems that a veteran influence has rubbed off on him all season in terms of his ability to play the game. Hopefully the veteran influence around him and the other young guys will keep them in check. It has to this point, so why should it stop now? The only way the Celtics could possibly react to the trash thrown at them by the Hawks is to play harder and throw down some more points in their faces.
I think its OK to believe that the Celtics are elitist in this instance. They should believe they are going to win. The Hawks are one of the worst playoff teams of all time (based on record) and the Celtics had one of the best regular-season records in NBA history. They are light years ahead of the Hawks and should play like they are.
The Hawks’ celebrations after winning Game 3 were over-the-top and perhaps their only chance to taste victory this postseason. I totally agree with Barack Obama if he were referring to the Atlanta Hawks. It makes perfect sense (except I don’t think Josh Smith will cling to his guns or religion when he gets agitated). The Hawks are peons and unless they knock off the top dog (the Celtics), they will remain a puny little spec on the NBA map.