Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics continue their pursuit of an 18th championship against the Atlanta Hawks in the opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs on Sunday.
Event: Celtics (39-27) vs. Hawks (40-26) - NBA Playoffs 2012, First Round, Game 4.
Date/Time: Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. EST.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18.624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's playoff game between the Celtics and Hawks will be televised on TNT and CSNNE. In addition, the game will be broadcast on the radio on WEEI 93.7 FM.
Celtics Roster 2011-2012: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, Ryan Hollins, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Sasha Pavlovic, Paul Pierce, Mickael Pietrus, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Sean Williams. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Hawks Roster 2011-2012: Jason Collins, Erick Dampier, Willie Green, Kirk Hinrich, Al Horford, Ivan Johnson, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Zaza Pachulia, Jannero Pargo,Vladimir Radmanovic, Josh Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams. Head Coach: Larry Drew.
Injury Report: Boston - Ray Allen (ankle), Avery Bradley (shoulder); Atlanta - Josh Smith (knee), Al Horford (chest), Zaza Pachulia (foot), Tracy McGrady (ankle).
Regular Season Series: Boston and Atlanta met three times in the regular season, with Boston winning twice. The Celtics won 79-76 in the season series opener before topping the Hawks 88-86 in overtime in April. Atlanta won the season series finale, 97-92.
Celtics-Hawks In 2008 Playoffs: The Celtics and Hawks last met in the postseason back in 2008, when Atlanta pushed Boston to seven games, but ultimately fell short. Boston won Games 1,2, 5 and 7 of the series and proceeded to win its first championship in 22 years.
Stats Leaders: Paul Pierce was the Celtics' leading scorer in the regular season, averaging 19.4 points. Rajon Rondo led the team, and the league, in assists with 11.7 and averaged 1.8 steals. Kevin Garnett averaged a team-leading 8.2 rebounds and Greg Stiemsma averaged a team-best 1.55 blocks. Atlanta's leading scorer this season was Joe Johnson, who averaged 18.8 points per contest. Jeff Teague led the hawks in assists (4.9 APG) and steals (1.6) while Josh Smith averaged team highs in rebounds (9.6) and blocks (1.7).
Celtics Vs. Hawks, Game 1: Atlanta capitalized on the Celtics' slow start, outscoring Boston 31-18 in the first quarter and never looking back en route to an 83-74 win at Philips Arena. Josh Smith had 22 points and 18 rebounds while Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, who was ejected in the fourth and later suspended for Game 2, each scored 20 points.
Celtics Vs. Hawks, Game 2: With two of the Big Four missing, Paul Pierce picked up the piece and composed a brilliant masterpiece, scoring 36 points while grabbing 14 rebounds to lead Boston to an 87-80 win, evening the series at 1-1. Joe Johnson had 22 points and Smith, who left in the fourth with a knee injury, had 16 points and 12 boards in the loss.
Celtics Vs. Hawks, Game 3: Rajon Rondo recorded his 20th career triple-double (17 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists), Paul Pierce scored 21, Kevin Garnett scored 20 and had 13 rebounds and Ray Allen scored 13 in his return to action as Boston edged Atlanta, 90-84 in overtime to take a 2-1 series lead. Joe Johnson scored 29 points to lead the Hawks.
Storyline: Rajon Rondo and the Celtics took care of business and Game 3 and need only one more win to essentially sink the Hawks. No, the series wouldn't be over if Boston won on Sunday, but a 3-1 series lead is pretty insurmountable. The question of the hour is whether or not Atlanta will be able to pick up the pieces and put its best team on the floor. Josh Smith's status for Game 4 is still up in the air, and even if he does play (which, for the record, he says he's going to try to), he probably won't be at 100 percent. Also, the losses of Zaza Pachulia (foot) and Al Horford (chest) have put the Hawks at a sever disadvantage down low. Injuries to Zaza and Al resulted in guys like Erick Dampier getting extended minutes. That does not bode well for a team that's trying to win in the playoffs. Boston has its own injury questions, too, with the health of Ray Allen and Avery Bradley still unclear. Allen played in Game 3 -- his first game action since April 10 -- but played 37 minutes and said his ankle "felt like it was mad at him" after the game. Bradley, meanwhile, suffered a left shoulder injury and had to leave Game 3 late in the third quarter. The team later termed Bradley's injury a "sore left shoulder" and Doc Rivers said his shoulder had popped out.
Players To Watch: Once again, watch for all the injured guys. Ray Allen and Avery Bradley, in specific, if they can play. Doc Rivers didn't have a minute restriction when Allen returned in Game 3, so he likely wouldn't have one in Game 4 for either Allen or Bradley. Josh Smith could return for Atlanta, which would be a huge boost, and Zaza Pachulia is uncertain. Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce will likely factor into this one. Joe Johnson, too.
Prediction: If Josh Smith plays, this game will be close. Actually, it's probably going to be close anyways -- all three games have been close. Still, home court and a chance to put the Hawks in a 3-1 hole should motivate Boston. Final Score: Celtics 93, Hawks 86.