The Boston Celtics' road to the 2012 NBA Finals starts with the Atlanta Hawks, as the No. 4 seeded Celtics will battle the No. 5 seeded Hawks in the opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
The location of the series is still up in the air, as home court advantage has not yet been decided. Atlanta (38-26) has a one-game advantage in the race for home court with two games to play. Boston (37-27) will face the Miami Heat on Tuesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday while Atlanta plays the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday and the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.
A quick glance at the remaining schedule for both teams would appear to give the edge to Boston, even with the Heat still on the schedule. Miami will likely be without Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, both of whom may sit, and the Bucks trail the Philadelphia 76ers by three games with three to play.
Boston and Atlanta met three times in the regular season, with the Celtics winning twice. The first Celtics win came on March 19, with the C's grinding out a 79-76 victory. The middle game on April 11 resulted in a thrilling 88-86 overtime victory for Boston, led by a 22-point, 12-rebound game from Kevin Garnett and a Rajon Rondo triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 20 assists). The last game, a 97-92 win for the Hawks, came on April 20, and the Celtics were without Paul Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen, as well as Rondo and Mickael Pietrus.
This series is a rematch of the first round of the 2007-08 NBA Playoffs, when the Hawks stretched the series out to seven games before finally falling to the Celtics. Both teams have a similar look since their last meeting in the playoffs. The Celtics are still led by the Big Three and Rondo while the Hawks boast the star trio of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford (who is currently injured). Boston went on to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the 2008 NBA Finals.