NBA playoffs betting: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks, Game 2
The Boston Celtics will try to avoid going down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Hawks in Atlanta tonight, but Boston will have to do it without starting point guard Rajon Rondo and probably shooting guard Ray Allen as well. The Hawks are 4.5-point favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Rondo clearly made contact with official Marc Davis in the final minute of the Celtics’ 83-74 loss Sunday night, but the league’s decision to suspend him for one game had to be made on the question of intent. Rondo was furious that Davis awarded the ball to the Hawks when television replays showed that Josh Smith – not Rondo – knocked the ball out of bounds late in the fourth quarter.
According to the NBA rulebook, “Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game. A fine and/or longer period of suspension will result if circumstances so dictate.’’
Coach Doc Rivers and Rondo both said after the game the contact was unintentional. Rondo made his case in a telephone interview Monday morning, and the league handed down the minimum sentence. Rondo led the NBA in assists this year and had 20 points and 11 helpers in the Game 1 loss.
Meanwhile, it appears that Allen will miss Game 2 with an ankle injury that forced him to sit 15 of the final 19 regular season games as well as Game 1. With Allen (ankle) and Rondo suspended, the Celtics are set to go with an Avery Bradley-Mickael Pietrus backcourt against the Hawks. Bradley struggled in his playoff debut, scoring 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting in Sunday’s loss.
The Celtics won twice in a 24-hour span in late January with a Bradley-Pietrus starting backcourt – 91-83 at Orlando and 94-87 over Indiana in Boston. After Rondo’s two-game suspension in February for zinging a ball at a ref, the Celtics lost to Dallas (89-73) and Oklahoma City (119-104) as they fell to 15-17 before the All-Star break.
Boston must figure a way to neutralize Atlanta’s Josh Smith in Game 2. He was dominant with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Smith had to carry the load. The Hawks’ other big gun, Joe Johnson, had a miserable night with 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting, committing more turnovers (four) than he made field goals. He was 0 of 9 from 3-point range.
Boston’s Paul Pierce had only 12 points, going 5 of 19 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. The Celtics were 0-for-11 on 3-point attempts. It’s the most 3-point attempts without a make in a playoff game since the Jazz went 0-for-14 in 2008 against the Rockets, and the Jazz actually won that game. It’s the most 3-point attempts without a make in a playoff game in Celtics history. The NBA first adopted the 3-point arc in 1978-79.