On January 13th the Atlanta Hawks will host the Boston Celtics at the Phillips Arena.
Atlanta are 1st at the Southeast and 4th at the Eastern Conference, while the Boston Celtics are second in the Atlantic Division but third on the Eastern Conference. At this point both teams are well placed and fight for the top spots at the end of the season for the home field advantage and a weaker opponent for the first round of the playoffs.
There’s a lot of history for both sides. The Boston Celtics are one of the two most famous NBA teams with 17 titles under their belt and players like Larry Bird, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and lately the point guard Raja Rondo having joined their ranks. Their last title was in 2008 and it is interesting to note that they almost lost the first rounds to the Cleveland Cavaliers and none other than the Atlanta Hawks before moving on to defeating the Detroit Pistons and the second most famous NBA team L.A. Lakers for the title.
The Atlanta Hawks on the other hand may have won the title only once (against the Celtics mind you!) but they have always been strong contenders and a tough side to defeat. Also, who can forget the “human highlight film” Dominique Wilkins, or the man that changed the course of basketball Pete Maravich? Not to mention the front men Moses Malone and Dikembe Mutombo? And their rivalry with the Celtics is one of the greatest in the NBA dating back to the 1950s, so no matter who is playing or the condition of the teams, it’s always a tough nut to crack!
The two teams have faced each other eleven times in the playoffs, four times in the NBA finals with the Celtics winning ten of twelve series against the Hawks, including three out of four NBA finals.
At the moment the teams are very different in playing style. The Celtics expect a lot from their best player Isaiah Thomas averaging 28 points this season. The Hawks are based on Paul Millsap with an average of 17.7 points and the well known Center Dwight Howard with 13.3 rebounds average.
On the injured list, the Atlanta Hawks still can’t count on Mo Williams with a knee problem, (traded from Cleveland for Kyle Korver). On the Boston side, Avery Bradley, a key player averaging 18 points, is still recovering from a strained Achilles.
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