|NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Friday, 09 November 2007 03:54|
Having Fun, Playing Well
The Boston Celtics are having fun, and they don't expect that to change any time soon.
With their marquee trio leading the way, the Celtics look to open with four straight wins for the first time in 20 seasons when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Boston -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 194 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 86% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
Boston (3-0) couldn't have played much better in a 119-93 home victory over Denver on Wednesday. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 71 points as the Celtics shot 64.5 percent from the field - including 72 percent in a 77-point first half.
"We are just scratching the surface on what we can do," said Pierce, who had 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting. "We enjoy seeing the next player make a great play and no one cares who gets credit."
The additions of Garnett and Allen to support Pierce immediately vaulted the sagging franchise to the top of the list of Eastern Conference contenders and the Celtics have lived up to the hype so far.
Boston looks to open 4-0 for the first time since winning its first six in 1987-88. The Celtics, who didn't win their fourth game until Nov. 18 last season when they finished 24-58, haven't made the playoffs since 2004-05.
They could be in good shape to remain undefeated against Atlanta (2-2), which is looking to avoid extending its road losing streak to 16 games dating to last season, when it went 12-29 away from home.
On Wednesday, Garnett had 23 points and 13 rebounds for his third straight double-double, while Allen followed up a 33-point effort in a 98-95 overtime win at Toronto on Sunday with 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
Allen is averaging a team-leading 24.0 points and shooting 63.2 percent over the first week of the season. Garnett is posting 22.7 points and 18.7 rebounds per contest and Pierce is scoring 22.3 points for the Celtics, who have won both their home games by an average of 24 points.
"They (Garnett, Pierce and Allen) like each other," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who returned to the bench Wednesday after missing the Toronto game following the death of his father. "They've all decided that they don't need anything individually and it is all about what's best for the team."
The Celtics have also improved defensively, allowing 90.3 points per game after giving up 105.3 in starting 0-3 last season.
"Doc has been preaching to us about repetition," Garnett said. "We want to be known as a defensive team."
Boston should have a chance to prove that again versus Atlanta, which is coming off a 105-96 home win over Phoenix on Wednesday.
Josh Smith had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Marvin Williams added 20 points and 12 boards as the Hawks outrebounded the Suns 56-40.
Atlanta has held its own during a brutal early stretch that included an opening-night home win over Dallas, followed by road losses to Detroit and New Jersey by a total of six points.
"We should be 4-0," said Smith, who is averaging 17.8 points and 9.5 rebounds. "We feel good about our chances this year."
Atlanta's chance to contend for its first playoff spot since 1998-99 would increase if it can play better on the road. The Hawks won 96-93 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 14 for their most recent victory away from home.
The Hawks split two games at Boston last season while going 3-1 overall against the Celtics.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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