Celtics-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 05, 2013
The Boston Celtics have gained a reputation as a very good defensive team the last few years, but that wasn't the case at all during a recent four-game skid. While they returned to form for at least one night, they will need more consistency to get back on track after sliding below .500. Boston will also try to snap a three-game road losing streak when it faces the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. The Celtics (15-17) ended a four-game slide with Friday's 94-75 win against Indiana after entering the contest a season-worst three games below .500. "You could tell we needed this win, and that's how we came out tonight," said Kevin Garnett, who tied a team high with 18 points before he was ejected in the fourth quarter for a Flagrant 2 foul when he flailed his hands and hit Tyler Hansbrough in the face. "We needed a win. Tonight was the night to stop the bleeding. I felt like we did that." In the four previous losses, Boston had allowed 104.5 points per game and opponents shot 50.5 percent from the field. The Celtics held teams to 97.0 ppg through their first 27. Friday's performance was much closer to the trademark defense Boston has played largely since acquiring Garnett in the summer of 2007. The Celtics led the league in field-goal percentage defense (43.1) and scoring defense (92.1) over the last five seasons. They limited Indiana to a season-low 31.8 percent shooting. Paul George and David West - the team's top two scorers - finished with a total of 19 points on 8 of 36 from the field. "It was only a matter of time before their defense bounced back and it bounced back in a big way tonight," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. The Celtics will still need better offense too, as they averaged 84.8 points during their slump, and Friday's output was below the season mark of 95.4. Finding sources of offense has been a challenge with only two players reaching the 20-point mark in the last six games. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry each had 20 in a 118-96 loss at Sacramento on Dec. 30. Rajon Rondo's 11.6 assists still lead the NBA, but that figure accounts for more than half of the team's game average (23.1). Josh Smith continues to lead the Hawks (20-11) with 16.9 ppg, but Atlanta isn't getting many contributions from outside its starting lineup. Better scoring from the reserves could be even more crucial going forward as Smith aggravated a hip pointer in Friday's 85-84 loss at Detroit, though he scored a team-high 20. He missed a game Dec. 29 with a similar injury. Atlanta's bench is averaging 26.4 points over an eight-game span since Dec. 21, one of the league's lowest figures during that stretch. They were outscored 41-14 by the Pistons' second unit, though the Hawks reeled off a 16-0 run to cut the deficit to 83-82 with 3:13 left. "Josh said he could still go, but when we got down 17 late in the third, I got him out of there," coach Larry Drew said. "After that, when the guys were making a run, I didn't want to change things. I did put Josh out there for the last possession, though. He wanted to be out there." Boston has won four of six against Atlanta, including two of three last season. Rondo had a triple-double (10 points, 20 assists, 10 rebounds) in an 88-86 victory on April 11.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin


Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker