Celtics 88, Hawks 86 (OT): Rajon Rondo Powers Boston Past Atlanta

Rajon Rondo had his patented national television triple-double (although it was only televised regionally), totaling 10 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists (tied for a season high) and the Celtics won an overtime thriller against the Hawks, 88-86.

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Celtics Schedule 2012: A Date With Miami Highlights The Final Week

In the final week of the regular season, the Boston Celtics don't have much to play for.

After locking up the Atlantic Division title last week, Boston is locked into the fourth seed and will likely play the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

No team is coming into the postseason hotter than the Celtics, who have been steamrolling opponents left and right since the All-Star break. However the team has stumbled a tad lately, going 3-3 in their last six including losing two of the last three games.

They will face a stiff test on Tuesday when the Miami Heat come to town. The Heat have to be looking for revenge since the Celtics beat them badly in the previous two meetings, one at home and the other in Miami.

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh will undoubtedly be seeking a statement game on the parquet floor.

Thursday brings the final game of the season against the Milwaukee Bucks. This contest will feature a lot of minutes for men usually nailed to the bench.

It wouldn't be surprising in the least to see Doc Rivers sit Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen for the duration.

For more on the Celtics, please be sure to visit our site Celtics Blog and SB Nation Boston for all the latest news and updates.

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Ray Allen Injury Update: Allen Out At Least Two Games, Doc Rivers Says Injury Isn't Serious

Ray Allen did not travel with the Boston Celtics for their game against the Toronto Raptors and is expected to miss at least the following game against the New Jersey Nets, Doc Rivers said on Friday.

It's possible that Allen returns on Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats, but flying down to Charlotte might make less sense than waiting until Wednesday and meeting the team in New York.

The good news for Celtics fans is that Allen's injury, though nagging, is not thought to be severe.

"It's not that serious, it's swelling," Rivers said of Allen's ankle injury. "I'm concerned when anybody's injured. It's not a serious injury, that's what the doctors keep saying, so that makes me feel better about it."

Avery Bradley will continue to start with or without Allen healthy. Mickael Pietrus and Sasha Pavlovic stand to play more minutes due to Allen's absence.

For more Celtics coverage, visit CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Schedule 2012: C's Play Back-To-Back-Back Games

When the weekend concludes on Sunday, they Celtics will have played three games in three nights, five games in six nights and seven games in nine nights, going back to last Saturday's win over the Indiana Pacers.

Back-to-backs are normal occurrences on the NBA schedule, but back-to-backs-to-backs are unique to this lockout-shortened season. Every team was assigned one back-to-back-to-back this season, with other teams playing two. This weekend marks the one and only tripleback the Celtics will play this season.

The three games: the Toronto Raptors, the New Jersey Nets and the Charlotte Bobcats – all on the road. Lucky for the Celtics, the combined record of their three opponents is 41-133.

At 34-24 the Celtics are currently the leaders of the Atlantic Divison and hold the fourth Playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. If the season ended today, they would host the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

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Ray Allen Injury Update: Allen Not Making Trip To Toronto

Doc Rivers said Wednesday that he hoped Ray Allen would return to the Boston Celtics lineup Friday against the Toronto Raptors. That won't be the case.

The Celtics announced on Thursday that Allen, who missed Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks after his bothersome right ankle swelled up, will not travel with the team to Toronto.

Allen is listed as day-to-day and could conceivably return at some point during the team's three consecutive road games, but would have to take his own flight.

"I don't know what's going on with it, but I do know he's not going to play tonight," Rivers said Wednesday of Allen's ankle. "It just swells, I guess. I don't know."

When asked whether Allen's ankle would eventually need surgery, Rivers added, "Ray would probably tell you more than I can tell you. I haven't heard that. I'm just more concerned that this is the second or third time it's happened."

For more Celtics coverage, visit CelticsBlog.

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2012 NBA Standings, Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics Move Another Stop Closer To Atlantic Division Title

The Boston Celtics took another step toward securing the Atlantic Division title on Wednesday night, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 88-86 in overtime.

With the win, the Celtics remained three games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers with eight games remaining for both teams. Boston is knotted with the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern Conference's fourth-best record, but would have the No. 4 seed if the season ended today because division winners automatically get a top-four seed. Home court advantage in the first round still relies on record, so the Celtics could theoretically earn the fourth seed but play on the road in round one.

It's possible for the Celtics to catch the Indiana Pacers for the third seed, but they would have to make up a two-game deficit. Indiana has been playing good ball, winning seven of their last 10.

The full 2012 Eastern Conference standings follow:


Eastern Standings

GP W-L PCT
Chicago Bulls 58 44-14 .759
Miami Heat 56 40-16 .714
Indiana Pacers 58 36-22 .621
Boston Celtics 58 34-24 .586
Atlanta Hawks 58 34-24 .586
Orlando Magic 58 34-24 .586
Philadelphia 76ers 58 31-27 .534
New York Knicks 58 30-28 .517
Milwaukee Bucks 58 28-30 .483
Detroit Pistons 57 21-36 .368
New Jersey Nets 59 21-38 .356
Cleveland Cavaliers 56 19-37 .339
Toronto Raptors 59 20-39 .339
Washington Wizards 58 14-44 .241
Charlotte Bobcats 56 7-49 .125

For more Celtics coverage, visit CelticsBlog.

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Jokester Mickael Pietrus Provides Spark In Return For Boston Celtics

BOSTON - Mickael Pietrus likes to joke around. Prior to Wednesday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks, Pietrus spoke with the media about a possible timetable for his return and said he didn't know when he would be ready. Minutes later, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said that Pietrus would be playing. As for a postgame explanation from Pietrus?

"I knew I was playing since this morning," said Pietrus. "That was an April fools'."

It's not a surprise that Pietrus would joke around (he's the king comedian in the Celtics' locker room), but his performance in his first game back from a concussion was. Pietrus, who suffered from a closed head injury on March 23 against the Philadelphia 76ers and missed 10 straight games, provided the Celtics with critical minutes off the bench in their 88-86 overtime win. Pietrus scored a bench-leading eight points in nearly 29 minutes.

"I felt great," Pietrus said. "It was just trying to bring that energy because I knew that guys travel light and they are going to need that extra energy and obviously that's what I did and I'm very happy that we could keep winning and stay positive."

"He was great. He was great," Rivers said. "You know it's funny, Danny (Ainge) called me today and said they worked him out and he said he was tired after two minutes. And they worked out yesterday. So we went in, thinking four, five minutes and really. That game was to get him ready for the games coming up. Going into it that was our plan.

"And you could see pretty much right away, I was going to take him out after about three minutes and Eddie said, ‘He looks great. Let him go, let him go. He'll tell you when he's tired.' What's amazing is he actually never looked over and said he was ever tired. Which, that's - maybe he's been working out on the sly and we never knew it."

Rivers initially told the media that Pietrus would play between five and ten minutes, but that obviously wasn't the case, with Pietrus playing nearly 30. As Rivers said after the game, he has the right to change his mind, which is what he did after consulting the team trainer.

"Yeah, yeah. You know, he looked great," Rivers said about his pregame minutes limit for Pietrus. "I turned to (trainer) Eddie (Lacerte) and Eddie said, ‘No. Go.' He said, ‘He's fine.' And so...I said five-to-ten. You know when you coach, you actually change your mind sometimes during games. It's allowed."

"That's what of course he's going to say and there is nothing wrong with that, but I'm going to make him play me 30 minutes," Pietrus said.

Pietrus could have come out of the game if he wanted to, but he stayed on in the fourth quarter and in overtime, playing 8:10 in the fourth and all five minutes in the extra period.

"That's me," said Pietrus. "I enjoy when the game is on the line and you know you have to guard the best player and I think our team did a great job in the fourth quarter defensively and that's what we needed."

Some players might think twice about putting their bodies on the line in the first game back from a jarring concussion, but not Pietrus. All night long, Pietrus drove to the hoop without care and looked like his normal self without any drawbacks.

"I feel good, extremely good," he said. "No more concussion, it's behind me now so I look forward right now to just get to a level where I can help my team in the playoffs and just very happy to be back. I came out here tonight, 23,000 fans [for the record, it was 18,624 fans], I was so happy and just I forget the concussion and they were supporting me.

"Thanks (fans) for supporting me, they Tweet me. And I want to say thanks to the Celtics organization, they look for me when I was down, they came to my house make sure they talk to me and stay positive and they took care of me from day one."

AUDIO: Mickael Pietrus Postgame Interview, Celtics Vs. Hawks (April 11, 2012)


Mickael Pietrus

#28 / Guard / Boston Celtics

6-6

215

Feb 07, 1982

France


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Celtics Overtime: Rajon Rondo, Mickael Pietrus Push C's Past Hawks

Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston beat the Atlanta Hawks, 88-86, in overtime Wednesday at TD Garden.

Rajon Rondo is truly a gift from above, isn't he? Sure, he can be inconsistent. But when he's on, he's on. Luckily for the Celtics, Rondo's switch was in the on position during Wednesday's 88-86 OT win against the Hawks in front of a sellout crowd at TD Garden. Rondo had his 19th career triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists.

Rondo alone was not the only factor in Boston's thrilling victory (although his performance was a major component). Great games from Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and even Mickael Pietrus, who was returning from a concussion, helped to spark the Celtics to their fifth straight win. Below are three talking points to take away from the game.

RONDO, RONDO, RONDO, RONDO, RONDO, RONDO, RONDO

Get the point? Again, the win was not solely because of Rondo, but a triple-double of any kind certainly goes a long way towards winning. Rondo's 20 assists tied a season-high (he also had 20 assists in Boston's overtime win over the New York Knicks at TD Garden in March) and stretched his streak of games with double-digit assists to a remarkable 19 tilts.

"It's just how it is, you win some you lose some," Rondo said. "We kept fighting regardless of the other stuff out there, we stuck together and we followed through and got the win."

"(Rajon) Rondo was sensational; didn't want to come out," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "He said, ‘Because we've got tomorrow off, let me just go.'"

Any time Rondo goes off for a game like this, it seems like the Celtics win. And you know the whole Rondo triple-double on national television dynamic? Wednesday's game was supposed to be on national TV, but ESPN bumped the game to air the Knicks and Bucks. Well, I guess nobody told Rondo, who did his usual national TV thing. The more, the better.

MICKAEL PIETRUS GIVES BOSTON MUCH-NEEDED SPARK

Nobody saw this coming. That is, nobody but Mickael Pietrus, Doc Rivers and Ed Lacerte. Pietrus' return came as a shock to the media and fans, though, who learned that the French swingman would be returning to the lineup after a ten-game absence due to a scary concussion suffered in late March. Pietrus was expected to play between five to ten minutes (according to Rivers), but wound up playing nearly 30. And he looked great.

"I felt great" Pietrus said. "It was just trying to bring that energy because I knew that guys travel light and they are going to need that extra energy and obviously that's what I did and I'm very happy that we could keep winning and stay positive."

Pietrus scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting to lead all bench scorers in 28:49. Pietrus even saw major minutes in the fourth quarter ( 8:10) and overtime (played five minutes).

"I'm happy that he's back first of all," said Avery Bradley. "I feel like he brings a lot of energy. He's a great shooter, and like I said he just plays with energy and we need that. He helps out a lot."

Coincidentally, Pietrus returned as veteran starter-turned-sixth man Ray Allen was sidelined with a swollen ankle. Allen, who was moved to the bench as Bradley was inserted into the starting rotation, had his ankle well up before Wednesday's game. Thankfully for Boston, Pietrus was able to provide the team with some offense in Allen's absence.

KEVIN GARNETT'S RESURGENCE CONTINUES

Doc Rivers said it best. If there was an All-Star vote now, Kevin Garnett would be atop the centers. Garnett has been playing unbelievably well ever since being moved to the five around the All-Star break. Garnett didn't disappoint Wednesday, finishing with a team-high 24 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes.

Garnett's scoring certainly helped, but his rebounding was even more important as he led the team as it out-rebounded Atlanta, 56-39 -- something that really doesn't happen all that often.

"Well, you're not going to see it a whole bunch, but we'll take it tonight," Rivers said. "I mean, we rebounded very well."

Said Rondo: "We did a great job rebounding and that hasn't been what we do best but tonight we did an excellent (job) rebounding the ball."

In closing, the Celtics will go as far as Rondo and Garnett will take them. It's pretty simple: if both are on top of their game, the Celtics are an incredibly tough team to beat. Come playoff time, their play will be critical.

Final - 4.11.2012 1 2 3 4 OT 1 Total
Atlanta Hawks 25 23 20 16 2 86
Boston Celtics 26 14 27 17 4 88

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Celtics 88, Hawks 86 (OT): Rajon Rondo Powers Boston Past Atlanta

BOSTON - Wednesday night's game between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks was initially supposed to be on national television, but ESPN bumped it to air the Knicks and Bucks game. Evidently, someone forgot to tell Rajon Rondo about the switcheroo.

Rondo had his patented national television triple-double (although it was only televised regionally), totaling 10 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists (tied for a season high) and the Celtics won an overtime thriller against the Hawks, 88-86, at TD Garden. It was Rondo's 19th career triple-double and his 19th straight game with double-digit assists.

"Putting the ball in the hole, pretty simple," Rondo said about his teammates. "They were concentrating a little bit more today. I don't know, you've got to ask them. I think a lot of them were uncontested shots, we got out, we got stops. We did a great job rebounding and that hasn't been what we do best but tonight we did an excellent (job) rebounding the ball."

"Rondo was sensational; didn't want to come out," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "He said, 'Because we've got tomorrow off, let me just go.'"

Boston and Atlanta were gridlocked for most of the game. The Celtics led 26-25 through one quarter, but were outscored 23-14 in the second. A strong third quarter (Boston outscored Atlanta 27-20) put the C's right back in the game, and the Hawks were outscored 17-16 in the fourth, locking the score at 84 as the clock hit the triple zeros. Boston shot 41.6 percent (37-for-89) but out-rebounded Atlanta, 56-39, and had 19 turnovers.

"I've got to tell you guys, that was the worst game we've ever won," said Rivers. "And you thought I'd say something else ... I mean, we didn't play well. I mean, we just kept hanging in there. You could see the fatigue and it's amazing how things backfire. You rest Kevin (Garnett) and you get a good break and then all of a sudden he has to go in overtime."

Garnett had another strong game, finishing with 22 points and 12 rebounds but fouled out in overtime. Brandon Bass, who briefly went down in overtime but walked off the injury, had 21 points and 10 rebounds while captain Paul Pierce scored 24.

Mickael Pietrus even made his return to action and provided the Celtics with key minutes off the bench. Pietrus received a well-deserved standing ovation when he checked into the game late in the first quarter, and he went on to lead the bench in scoring with eight points.

"I felt great, " Pietrus said. "It was just trying to bring that energy because I knew that guys travel light and they are going to need that extra energy and obviously that's what I did and I'm very happy that we could keep winning and stay positive."

The Hawks were led by a 21-point game from guard Jeff Teague. Josh Smith scored 20 and also had 11 boards and Joe Johnson added 14 points for Atlanta, which was held to 41 percent shooting (34-for-83) and coughed the ball up 16 times.

"I think we definitely should have won," Johnson said. "Like I said, we had plenty of chances to win this game, but that's neither here nor there, they just pulled it out in the end."

After an offensive foul from Pierce with 5.3 second left, the Hawks looked to Johnson, who had just tied the game with a 16-footer with 46.6 second remaining, for the final shot. The ball was inbounded to Johnson, but the Celtics played phenomenal defense and double teamed him, forcing him to cough the ball up to Jannero Pargo, who missed a three.

"Yeah, that's why I really didn't want to run a pick and roll because I knew Rondo was going to jump out there and try and trap me to get the ball," said Johnson. "I thought we still got a good look at it, just didn't make it. I thought in that overtime, we couldn't come up with those plays we needed offensively."

Boston only scored four in overtime, but it was enough to capture its fifth straight win.

"It just says we have great character. Tough minded group, they really are," said Rivers. "You could see they wanted to win that game so bad, and you could see the way we played. Going into it, what I told the coaches is we've got to just keep it close. If we can keep this game, and hang around, and then the fourth quarter - that's how I felt going into the game."

The Celtics, who have an off-day on Thursday, head out on the road for a four-game road trip that includes their only back-to-back-to-back of the year against the Toronto Raptors (on Friday), the New Jersey Nets and the Charlotte Bobcats.

AUDIO: Rajon Rondo Interview (4-11-12) | AUDIO: Mickael Pietrus Interview (4-11-12)


Final - 4.11.2012 1 2 3 4 OT 1 Total
Atlanta Hawks 25 23 20 16 2 86
Boston Celtics 26 14 27 17 4 88

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Celtics Vs. Hawks, Final Score: Boston Wins 88-86 In Overtime

The Boston Celtics overcame an eight-point halftime deficit on Wednesday night for a narrow win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics won in overtime by a final score of 88-86. It was their fourth win in a row.

At halftime, the Celtics trailed by eight points. Powered by a 27-point third quarter, Boston outscored the Hawks 44-36 in the second half to send the game into overtime. Rajon Rondo set up both of the Celtics' overtime jump shots that gave them four points versus Atlanta's two in the extra frame.

Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Paul Pierce had 14 points and Rondo had another 10 in the effort.

The Celtics proved to be really strong on the boards, out-rebounding Atlanta by a 56-39 margin. Garnett had 12 rebounds, and Bass had ten as both players picked up a double-double. Rondo had a triple-double, pulling down 10 boards and chipping in 20 assists in the win.

Boston travels to Toronto on Friday.


1:14 remaining in the 4th 1 2 3 4 Total
Atlanta Hawks 25 23 20 14 82
Boston Celtics 26 14 27 15 82

Complete Coverage >


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Celtics Vs. Hawks: Boston Trails, 48-40, At The Half

The Boston Celtics trail the visiting Atlanta Hawks by a score of 48-40 at the half on Wednesday night. The game is a sneak peak at a potential playoff matchup between the two teams.

Mickael Pietrus, out since March 23, has three points for the Celtics and one rebound. Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett lead the team with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Both Bass and Garnett have five rebounds each. No other player has more than four points for Boston.

Josh Smith leads the Hawks with 12 points and six rebounds.

Boston has turned the ball over 10 times, compared to just five for Atlanta.

Celtics guard Ray Allen, averaging 14.2 points per game and 3.1 rebounds, is out with a swollen ankle.

Boston is hot off a Tuesday night over the Miami Heat. A win over Atlanta would make it four straight for the Celtics.

For more Celtics and Hawks coverage, visit CelticsBlog and Peachtree Hoops.

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Celtics Vs. Hawks: Mickael Pietrus Returns; Ray Allen Will Not Play

BOSTON - How quickly things change. What looked to be an uneventful second game of a back-to-back (unless you count that whole possible playoff preview between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks as an event) became rather eventful, and the game hasn't even started yet. The reason? Mickael Pietrus will return and Ray Allen will not.

Pietrus, who has not played since Friday, March 23, when he suffered a closed head injury (later diagnosed as a concussion) against the Philadelphia 76ers. Pietrus said he had been making progress, but Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was unsure about Pietrus' timetable for return, even admitting that he though Pietrus might be out for year.

Meanwhile, Allen will sit out of Wednesday's game because of a swollen ankle, which flared up before the game. Allen, who has been moved to the bench as second-year guard Avery Bradley was inserted into the starting rotation, had been excelling in his new role as the team's sixth man. Rivers did not know when Allen would return.

Check out more pregame news and notes from both coaches' pregame interviews.

AUDIO: Doc Rivers Pregame (4-11-12) | AUDIO: Larry Drew Pregame (4-11-12)



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Ray Allen Injury Update: Celtics Guard Is Out Against Hawks On Wednesday

The Boston Celtics are going to be without shooting guard Ray Allen on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks due to his injured ankle swelling up (via Gethin Coolbaugh's Twitter).

Allen will be missing his seventh game out of the last 12 games the C's have played. So once again, Avery Bradley will start in place of Allen. Allen played 35 minutes against the Heat on Tuesday and scored nine points. He's played at least 28 minutes in the past five games. Bradley has averaged 30.4 minutes, 12.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game during the past five games

In other injury news, forward Mickael Pietrus will be available to play for Boston tonight. Pietrus has been battling a concussion. In 37 games this season, he averages 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in 21.3 minutes per game.

For more Celtics and Hawks coverage, visit CelticsBlog and Peachtree Hoops.

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Mickael Pietrus Injury Update: Celtics Swingman Returns Wednesday

BOSTON - Doc Rivers didn't know when he might see swingman Mickael Pietrus back out on the court for the Boston Celtics, even saying that he thought Pietrus might be out for the year. As it turns out, he'll see him again Wednesday.

Pietrus has been cleared by doctors to return to action after suffering a closed head injury (later ruled a concussion) against the Philadelphia 76ers last month. Pietrus has not played since Friday, March 23, missing 10 games in total.

While Pietrus is back, Rivers told reporters in his pregame media address that he would not play a lot in Wednesday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden. Rivers will also have to adjust to the absence of starter-turned-sixth man Ray Allen, whose ankle swelled up and will miss Wednesday's game. Rivers did not know when Allen would return.

For more Celtics and Hawks coverage, visit CelticsBlog and Peachtree Hoops.

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Celtics Vs. Hawks: Boston Hosts Atlanta Before Trying Road Trip

Two of the league's hottest teams collide as the Boston Celtics (33-24) battle the Atlanta Hawks (34-23) at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI) before heading out on a trying road trip.

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