Game 6: Celtics at Hawks

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So let me get this straight: Ben Roethlisberger is a tough guy, and Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Ray Allen are fakers. Because a quarterback who drops back a few steps and has to jog every five plays is a warrior for playing with an ankle sprain, but basketball players who twist their knees or have bone spurs in their ankle and then have to sprint, jump, and make lateral cuts for 40 minutes are wimps.

Just so we’re clear.

Rant over. Injuries could play a big role in tonight’s Game 6 at TD Garden. The most concerning injury is Pierce’s left knee, although Smith’s knee probably isn’t 100 percent, but Smith relies so much on his athleticism. Neither team can afford to lose this game — the Hawks literally cannot — and so guys are going to have to play hurt. The Celtics would be much better off playing through pain tonight and getting some extra rest than losing and having to go down to Atlanta for a Game 7. Not to mention that the Celtics moving on in this series is still not guaranteed.

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Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Series: Celtics lead, 3-2
Broadcast info: TNT/CSNNE, WEEI/850 AM/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kevin Garnett

Hawks:
PG: Jeff Teague
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Marvin Williams
PF: Josh Smith
C: Al Horford

Story lines:

Horford: The Hawks center came up huge in his second game in months Tuesday night, putting up 19 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes. Forty one minutes! Horford changes everything for the Hawks, who can now go big or small and still be effective.

Minutes: Speaking of minutes, Kevin Garnett played 38 of them Tuesday while Avery Bradley played just 18. Bradley took just two shots in Game 5, something that needs to be rectified. Another player who needs to make more of his minutes is Rajon Rondo, who had 12 assists and 5 turnovers in 44 minutes Tuesday.

Bench play: Mickael Pietrus has 8 points in five games. Greg Stiemsma has played himself out of the rotation. Ryan Hollins is what he is, a player who has struggled to stay on NBA rosters. It’s nice to have Allen coming off the bench, but the Celtics need others to step up. Keyon Dooling has provided a nice spark in a limited role.

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@GlobeGaryDzen

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