Updated: December 16, 2010, 5:32 PM ET

Celtics-Hawks Game Preview

By Chris Forsberg
ESPNBoston.com

Don't expect a repeat: Sure, the Celtics put a 23-point thumping on Atlanta when the teams met in November and, yes, it came on the tail end of a back-to-back. But Boston expended a lot of energy Wednesday in New York and won't have the motivation that a head-shaking loss in Toronto provided before the first meeting with Atlanta. This could be a night the Celtics desperately need their bench players to provide a spark if the starters come out of the gates sluggish, especially after Doc Rivers leaned on a tight eight-man rotation Wednesday.

No Rondo: Of course, the Celtics might have to use their entire roster out of necessity. VP of basketball operations Danny Ainge told Boston radio station WEEI on Thursday that Rajon Rondo will miss a couple of weeks because of a sprained left ankle suffered in the fourth quarter against the Knicks. That means Nate Robinson could be thrust back into the starting lineup -- a starting lineup that already features rookie Semih Erden pinch-hitting at center with Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins all sidelined.

No Joe, no Jamal either: The Celtics do catch a break as both Jamal Crawford (Atlanta's sixth man who slayed Boston last season) and Joe Johnson won't suit up for the Hawks. Still, winners of eight of their last 11, the Hawks will get no sympathy from Boston, especially with Atlanta having enjoyed three of the last four days off (the Hawks lost in Detroit on Tuesday).

Read the entire column at ESPNBoston.com.

Life Without Joakim Noah

What's A Few Tenths Among Friends?

By Henry Abbott
TrueHoop
NAME
Pierce

Here's where we encounter two long-term concerns about NBA crunch time.

The first is that replay can only be used when there are certain triggers, for instance to determine if a shot was a 2 or a 3, or if a player was fouled. Paul Pierce hitting a jumper is no reason for the referees to huddle on the sideline and tinker with the clock. To me, every fan at home can review that play, and I can't imagine why the NBA would want the referees to be in the minority of those who, with the game on the line, don't know what really happened.

A bigger concern is that even while Matt Moore shows the clock was slow to stop in a crucial moment, the scoreboard operator nevertheless behaved perfectly.

Read the entire column at TrueHoop.

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