Paul Pierce was a one-man show in Game 2, Rajon Rondo returns for Game 3 and Atlanta could be without forward Josh Smith when the Boston Celtics host theAtlanta Hawks on Friday. Pierce had 36 points and 14 rebounds in Boston’s 87-80 victory that tied the series on Tuesday, a contest that Rondo missed after he drew a one-game suspension for bumping official Marc Davis in Game 1. Smith strained a left knee tendon in Game 2, resulting in patellar tendinitis. He’s considered doubtful for Game 3.
Hawks Celtics Betting
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, May 4, 2012
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Sport South (Atlanta), Comcast SportsNet New England (Boston)
Atlanta Hawks: Not having Smith would be a huge blow for an Atlanta team that is also without frontcourt players Al Horford (pectoral) and Zaza Pachulia (foot). Smith is averaging 19 and 15 rebounds in the series and has been the Hawks’ top player over the second half of the season. “He’s certainly a key component in order for us to have success,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “Obviously, we already have both centers out, and now we’re looking at our starting power forward possibly being injured. These types of situations have been happening to us all year. We’ve been kind of snakebit but we’re just hoping for the best.”
Boston Celtics: Pierce bounced back from a poor Game 1 to register one of the top playoff efforts of his stellar career – an impressive feat considering he was a marked man with both Rondo and Ray Allen (guard) out of the lineup. Pierce scored just 12 points in the opener on 5-of-19 shooting. Allen is questionable to play in Game 3. Coach Doc Rivers cited his team’s experience as being a prime factor in why Boston was able to even the series while shorthanded. “We’ve won games this year without some of our key players,” Rivers said. “This is a tough-minded basketball team, and having a lot of veterans on your team helps with that.”
1. Atlanta All-Star Joe Johnson is averaging just 15.5 points in the series and his shooting has been horrid – 31.3 percent from the field, including 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
2. The Celtics missed their first 19 3-point attempts in the series and are 3 for 25 overall.
3. Scoring has been tough for both teams – the Hawks are averaging 81.5 points and Boston is at 80.5.
PREDICTION: Celtics 91, Hawks 85. CLICK HERE for 500 Handicappers Package FOR 5$