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Game 25: Hawks at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  December 16, 2010 12:49 PM

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bibbypre.jpgTip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (20-4), Hawks (16-10)
Broadcast info: CSN, TNT, WEEI
Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Semih Erden

Hawks:
PG: Mike Bibby
SG: Maurice Evans
SF: Marvin Williams
PF: Josh Smith
C: Al Horford

Storylines:

Injuries: Both teams are banged up. Joe Johnson (elbow) and Jamal Crawford (back) are out for the Hawks. Rajon Rondo (ankle) said last night that he would play tonight, though CSN's Greg Dickerson reported Rondo left Madison Square Garden on crutches. If Rondo can't go, expect Nate Robinson to start. Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal are both out for the Celtics, who are now riding an 11-game winning streak in spite of all this.

Same Hawks?: Until the Celtics beat the Knicks last night, New York was actually ahead of Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks and Knicks are now tied for the 5th spot. Atlanta's banged up, but think about this: A lot of teams have improved in the East since last season, but what has Atlanta done? There's a chance the Hawks slide down to a No. 7 or 8 seed by season's end, meaning the Celtics may see them in the first round.

Schedule: The Celtics are coming off an emotional victory in New York last night, while the Hawks are coming off an absolute clunker of a loss in Detroit on Tuesday (103-80, ouch). Will the Celtics be tired? Will the Hawks be motivated? Like last night's game for the Knicks, this game is a chance for Atlanta to make a statement on national television.

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