Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
Tip-off: Friday, March 8, 2013 – 8:00 PM ET
TD Garden, Boston, MA
As avid NBA fans might recall, the last time the Boston Celtics faced the Atlanta Hawks, they lost All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the basketball season and were on their longest skid in nearly six years.
YouWager experts also began to wonder if Boston should just pack it in the rest of the way and deal Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett before the trade deadline, however they decided to keep things going and no one expected what would happen next.
Coming off an outstanding comeback versus one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics will try to improve to 14-4 since Rondo went down and win nine in a row at home for the first time since the end of the 2008-09 season when the team faces Atlanta this evening.
Rondo tore his ACL in a 123-111 double-overtime defeat in Atlanta on Jan. 25, the Celtics’ sixth straight loss as it blew a 27-point lead. Boston didn’t know the severity of the injury until two days later during a home game versus the Miami Heat, which they won 100-98 in double OT.
After that win, coach Doc Rivers said the team was down but would not give up.
The Celtics (33-27) have done more than just hang around. They led the Philadelphia 76ers by 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East after beating Miami, and they come into this matchup in seventh place with a 2 1/2-game advantage over eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks.
Boston was five games behind the Brooklyn Nets for fourth place but have pulled within 1 1/2 of Brooklyn for that spot. They trail the fifth-place Atlanta (34-26) by one game.
The Celtics rallied from nine points down in the final 4:36 of Wednesday night’s visit to meet the Indiana Pacers, scoring the game’s last 11 points to come away with an 83-81 win after Garnett found Jeff Green under the basket for a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining.
Road-weary Hawks avoided a season high-tying fourth straight loss Wednesday night with a 107-96 home victory over the Sixers. Atlanta returned home after splitting a six-game trip, and they’re in the midst of playing 10 of 14 on the road.
Jeff Teague led the way against the 76ers with 27 points and 11 assists, Al Horford added 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, and journeyman forward Anthony Tolliver came off the bench to score a season-high 21 points.
According to the NBA point spread, the Celtics won 89-81 in Atlanta in the first game this season Jan. 5. Rondo had a triple-double while Pierce added 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists.