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BOSTON (CBS) – After capturing Game 2 against the Hawks Tuesday night, the Celtics might catch a break when it comes to Game 3.
Atlanta forward Josh Smith, a thorn in Boston’s side whenever they play the Hawks, had to leave in the fourth quarter of Game 2 after suffering a left knee sprain and did not return. The 26-year-old will have the injury further examined on Wednesday.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew did not know much about the injury following the 87-80 loss, but does know missing Smith for any stretch will really hurt his team’s chances against the Celtics.
“He is one of our go-to guys down the stretch,” Drew said of Smith, who left with 4:20 remaining in the game. “We were missing all of the things that he brings to the table for us, especially down low.”
Smith has enjoy success against Boston throughout his career, and averaged 16.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and five assists in three games against the C’s this season. He was a huge part of Atlanta’s Game 1 victory, scoring 22 points to go with 18 rebounds in the 83-74 win.
With Al Horford already sidelined and Zaza Pachulia’s status unknown for Game 3, the Hawks would have to rely heavily on veteran center Jason Collins and 28-year-old rookie Ivan Johnson, who felt the wrath of Kevin Garnett in Game 2.
Momentum has shifted back to the Celtics as the series heads to Boston, and if the Hawks are without Smith for any period of time, or he isn’t 100-percent, it will make it very difficult rest of a series.