Sunday NBA Playoffs Betting Odds: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
Saturday, April 28, 2012
It could be the last major playoff run for Boston’s “Big Three” as the Celtics open the postseason against the host Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. Forwards Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (35) and guard Ray Allen (36) are getting longer in the tooth and more prone to injury breakdowns.
The fourth-seeded Celtics have the playoff experience edge, but the fifth-seeded Hawks appear capable of dispatching of the Celtics. Boston Celtics won two of the three regular-season meetings.
When: 7:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 29, 2012
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT
Boston Celtics (39-27): Boston likely won’t know if Allen can play until close to game time. The veteran guard has been bothered by an injured right ankle and missed the final nine games of the regular season. Pierce has sensed Allen’s distress. “It’s always frustrating when you’re sitting out,” Pierce said. “Ray is one of the great competitors in the league. I’m sure it eats at him every single day he can’t practice and every single game he can’t play.” Pierce left the regular-season finale with a sprained left big toe but will be ready for the Hawks. Point guard Rajon Rondo led the NBA in assists at 11.7 per game.
Atlanta Hawks (40-26): Atlanta didn’t decline in the fashion some surmised after a season-ending injury to All-Star center Al Horford. A prime reason was that forward Josh Smith stepped up to average a career-best 18.8 points to go with 9.6 rebounds. Smith accepted more responsibility as a team leader as well. “This was definitely a year where I was productive,” Smith said. “With the injury to Al, I had to step up as a scoring leader and being more of a vocal leader. Basically, it was just showing everybody what I always had in my game.” Point guard Jeff Teague will be a pivotal figure as the player who will be defending Rondo.
Atlanta took Boston to seven games
before falling in the first round of the 2008 playoffs and the Celtics went on
to win the NBA title.
2. Boston guard Avery Bradley averaged 15.1 points over the final 15 regular-season games and will start whether or not Allen is available.
3. Hawks forward Zaza Pachulia (foot) is expected to miss the opener.
NBA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Celtics 93, Hawks 91
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