The Celtics play another key game in their quest to hold on to their seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a chance to move up to sixth. They enter tonight’s game two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and 2 1/2 behind the Hawks, who are in sixth. The Hawks are 1-2 against the Celtics this season and lost an overtime decision here on Mar. 8, 107-102, when they botched a chance to win in regulation after bad pass by Josh Smith.
BOSTON CELTICS (37-34)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Jeff Green
ATLANTA HAWKS (40-32)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Kyle Korver
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Ivan Johnson
C Anthony Tolliver
Officials: Monty McCutchen, Eric Lewis, Derek Richardson
TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).
• Courtney Lee is expected to play tonight after missing the past two games with a sprained left ankle. Lee will come off the bench but his presence will be a boost to the Celtics’ defense.
• Al Horford will miss tonight’s game with a stomach illness. With the Hawks also without Zaza Pachulia, Anthony Tolliver will get the nod at center. He is averaging just 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.
• The Celtics will take Saturday off in preparation for their matchup Sunday with the New York Knicks. Kevin Garnett is not expected to return until perhaps next weekend.
• The highlight of the pregame session was a war of words between Heat president Pat Riley and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge over Ainge’s comments regarding LeBron James complaining about officials. Ainge called his complains embarrassing and Riley released a statement using harsh words to tell Ainge to be quiet and “manage his own team.” Ainge agreed but still said James should be embarrassed about his complaints.