Atlanta Hawks at Celtics Game 4: Game thread
Boston–Josh Smith is testing his left knee pregame but said he will play tonight after no setbacks during this morning’s shootaround. He plans to wear a brace during the game. “When the adrenalin kicks in I probably won’t feel it,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out there and not even think about it. Play hard, play the way I’m capable of playing and not worry about re-injuring it.”
- Josh said if the Hawks were up 2-1 instead of down “I would probably be more cautious with the decision. But this is a must-win game for us tonight.”
- Larry Drew on Smith’s movement at shootaround: “Once he loosened up he looked pretty good.”
- Tracy McGrady (ankle) said he’s fine: “I feel great. I’m not worried about it.”
- Al Horford (pectoral) warmed up before the game and decided he feels good enough to be put on the active list. The Hawks say he’s a game-time decision.
- Drew said he would monitor Josh and T-Mac’s minutes: “I will certainly try to keep an eye on their minutes and we will use them accordingly depending on what the matchups are. If we get into a situation where we have to play one or two gys extra minutes, then so be it. We are in the fourth game of the playoffs and we want to put our best foot forward and play as well as we can and put ourselves in position to win.”
- Drew on playing without Josh: “Without him, we lose a big part of what we’ve been. He’s a guy that, now, down in the low block he commands double teams. He plays out of double teams really well, he’s an extremely good passer, he gives us stability defensively. We just miss his leadership out on the court.”
- Jeff Teague has been the most efficient shooter for the Hawks in this series, (non-Erick Dampier category) but he’s fourth in usage percentage. Teague’s 16.5 points per 36 minutes are second to Josh Smith (17.1).
- Drew wants Teague to be more aggressive offensively late in games even if his number isn’t called. Teague’s chances in the halfcourt still will have to come by playing off of Joe and Josh. Drew said Teague is the No. 2 option in those situations when Josh is not on the court; with Josh in the lineup tonight, Teague presumably slides back down to third in the pecking order.
- “When we get into that stretch run, particularly not having Josh, obviously we are gong to go through Joe a lot and I know they are going to keep a couple guys around him at all time with double teams and making sure he can’t get away,” Drew said. “But when Joe does give that basketball up, and that ball is swung out to Jeff, we need him to be in aggressive mode. You can’t be passive at that point because the shot clock is winding down and he is probably the only one on the floor that has that break-the-defense-down type speed. We just need him to be aggressive and be smart with his decisions.”
- Drew on Teague playing off Joe and Josh: “He’s growing. You can definitely see where he’s starting to understand how to play off those guys and how to get those guys involved. He’s not going to be perfect at it because he’s a scoring point guard. But he has gotten so much better in that area. The one thing is I want him to continue to be himself and stay aggressive and staying in that attack mode and just allow his natural instincts to come out.”
- Avery Bradley (shoulder) is a go for the Celtics.