Is Game 6 a must-win game for the Celtics?
Trick question. Technically, no, it's not. If the C's lose tonight in Boston ( 8 p.m., CSNNE), the two sides will play one more time in Atlanta on Saturday. But is a Game 7 on the road - with all the momentum in the Hawks' favor - really a situation the Celtics want to be in?
Nope. Not even close. So tonight is about as must-win as they get, and the Celtics know that.
They know that Rajon Rondo can't decide to show up in the closing minute of the third quarter. They know that at some point, Mickael Pietrus has to hit a shot. They know that Ryan Hollins getting significant minutes is probably not a good look. And finally, they know that if they're going to win, Paul Pierce is going to have a hand in it.
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The real question (concern) is how serious is Pierce's knee injury? Had the C's won on Tuesday, Pierce and his other banged up teammates would have had ample time to rest their bones. They don't have that luxury anymore.
It was pretty clear the knee was bothering Pierce in the second half, as he was a step or two slower and didn't appear to get the lift he wanted on shots.
To make matters worse, the Hawks have a healthy Al Horford back, something they haven't had since the beginning of the regular season. He torched the C's for 19 points and 11 rebounds on Tuesday and looks to be comfortable again out on the court.
Game 5 was one of the more poorly played games (up there with Game 1) for the Celtics, and they can't afford another one tonight. They know what's at stake, and being at home should be all they need to move on the second round against either Philadelphia or Chicago.