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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics look to close out their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night when the teams square off in Game 6 at the Garden.
The Celtics had a chance to clinch the series in Atlanta Tuesday night, but let Game 5 — and a chance to rest their injured players — slip away.
Paul Pierce is one of the many Celtics nursing an ailment. The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Thursday morning, and said Pierce is hurting, but it shouldn’t slow The Truth down too much.
“I think Pierce is hurting, but he’s not going to use it as an excuse. I don’t think it’s situation where it will be a major factor; I just think he needs some rest,” said Washburn. “He just wasn’t Pierce (Tuesday night), but we’ve seen that Pierce before when shots just aren’t falling.”
Guard Avery Bradley and forward Mickael Pietrus are both dealing with injuries as well, but Washburn says that will be the case for a while.
“I think Bradley and Pietrus are fine; they’re just going to have their nagging injuries, especially Bradley with the shoulder,” he said. “Doc played Ray Allen mostly (Tuesday night). Bradley was not a factor in the last game; he took two shots. I just think Doc liked Ray on the floor in the second half.”
With Pietrus, while he has been playing well on defense, his offensive game has suffered. The normally trigger happy shooter is just 1-for-6 from the floor in the last two games.
“He’s been missing a lot of shots and he’s been hesitant to launch the long-range shots…. The bigger the game, the more careful Pietrus has been with his shooting. I think he’s understands, it’s my job to play defense and to get us some possessions and make the key steal as opposed to trying to be a three-point shooter,” said Washburn. “I think he needs to go back to being that guy who shoots a little bit more, although he’s hit or miss and very streaky. They do need his scoring, and I think he’s kind of ignored that because he’s afraid to miss the big shot.”
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Rajon Rondo was the reason Game 5 was so close in the end, but he also couldn’t muster a final shot after making a steal with 10 seconds remaining. Usually a player that needs to be motivated, how will Rondo use the end of Game 5 on Thursday night?
“I think he’ll be motivated. Having watched a lot of his games, I don’t think he was particularly bad for the first three quarters,” Washburn said of Rondo’s performance Tuesday night. “I think he just tried to play distributor and he wasn’t taking a lot of shots and basically guys missed a lot of those shots. He missed a lot of assists.”
“I do expect him to respond tonight as he’s going to play pissed off.”
Also, will comments about the officiating by one of the Hawks owners have any effect on Game 6? And how will the Celtics handle Hawks center Al Horford? Find out that and more with Gary Washburn on Toucher & Rich.