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Celtics At Hawks: Atlanta Looks To Avenge Terrible Loss To C's On Home Floor

The last time the Atlanta Hawks faced off against the Boston Celtics on their home floor, it was the first of too many 20-plus point losses at home. The team hopes for a different result the second time they face the C's at Philips Arena.

Josh Smith and the Hawks shuffle over to ESPN for a Friday night matchup against the No. 2 seed Celtics on Friday night (8:00 p.m., ESPN, 97.9 FM).

The Celtics should be without Nenad Krstic for this one. The Boston big returned to Beantown after the Celtics' 107-97 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night for an MRI on an injured right knee and is out indefinitely.

However, Boston will face off against Atlanta for the first time this season with point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo, who missed the first two games due to injury, posted 22 points and 14 assists in last night's win. And when Rondo is dishing the basketball, the Celtics are a very, very good team. Boston is 21-2 this year when the former Kentucky field general dishes 13 or more assists.

The Celtics are trying to stave off a late charge by the Miami Heat for the second spot in the East. Boston edged back ahead of Miami with their win over the Spurs on Thursday. They are a half-game ahead of Miami and two games behind the Chicago Bulls for the first seed.

Atlanta is riding a three-game winning streak, after besting their Southeast Division rival Orlando Magic 85-82 on Wednesday night.

Smith posted 26 points and Joe Johnson added 18 in the win against Atlanta's likely first round opponent. The Hawks are pretty much locked into the No. 5 spot, four games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers and four games behind the Magic in the playoff race.

If Atlanta's going to get going in this one, they're going to need something from Smith. The Hawks forward has been terrible against the Celtics this season, posting just three points in the clubs' first two games. He is also 0-for-11 from the field in those contests.

Boston has won the first two meetings this season, defeating the Hawks here 99-76 on Nov. 22 and posting a 102-90 victory at the TD North Garden on Dec. 16.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.