Celtics looking to end series in five games

Josh Smith and the Hawks are looking to extend the series to at least a Game 6 in Boston on Thursday.

Three things to look for in Game 5:

Health concerns
Sunday’s win over the Hawks was huge, but did it come at a high price? The C’s traveled to Atlanta for tonight’s Game 5 (8 p.m., CSNNE), and it’s yet to be determined how healthy they’ll be. Ray Allen is still dealing with an ankle issue, and the high altitude of the flight won’t do it any favors. Mickael Pietrus strained his hamstring during Game 4, and hasn’t played like the player the C’s need in this series. Last, Paul Pierce tweaked his knee in Game 4. He came back out to play, and will most likely play tonight, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
 
Any pride left for ATL?
If there was one knock on the Hawks going into the postseason, it was that they were mentally weak. They don’t have a lot of proven veterans who see the court, and their young guys aren’t ready to take the next step. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are great players, but they have yet to really show up for long stretches in the postseason. During Game 4, nobody showed up. So, will they rebound from the embarrassing loss and defend home court, or roll over and die? The Celtics shouldn’t waltz into the game, because, who knows, Atlanta could show some heart.
 
Calling on role players
We’ve seen great games out of Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo thus far. Avery Bradley has stepped up as of late, and Kevin Garnett is doing what he does best – providing energy and defense. But where have Brandon Bass and Pietrus gone? Pietrus shrunk in Game 3, and again in Game 4. Bass hasn’t had a really big game for the C’s, averaging 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds after four games. But there will be a time they’ll be needed to step up in place of the tired veterans. Tonight could be it.


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