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Hawks Vs. Celtics: Rajon Rondo Knew How To Exploit Josh Smith

It doesn't seem like that long ago that the Atlanta Hawks looked like a real threat to knock of the Boston Celtics after a Game 1 win and a Rajon Rondo suspension. But three straight wins for the Celtics have dramatically shifted the series in Boston's favor.

Even though Josh Smith's return was supposed to give Atlanta a boost, Rondo's familiarity with him negated any impact that was expected, according to Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated.

But Rondo and Smith have been close friends since high school, and Rondo could see Smith was distracted and unable to drive the ball with confidence. As Smith dribbled aimlessly in the early going, trying to decide what he could do, Rondo stripped him in the front court to launch a fast break that Rondo himself brought to a halt unpredictably, like a conductor changing the tempo to poignancy from bliss.

Rondo finished with 20 points and 16 assists and proved to once again be a difference at point guard.

For more on the Hawks-Celtics playoff series check out Peachtree Hoops and CelticsBlog. For more news and notes regarding the NBA Playoffs head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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