The Boston Celtics tied their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks (1-1) and stole homecourt advantage as the series now shifts to Boston.
But if Atlanta is going to not only reclaim the homecourt advantage and take a series lead, they might have to do it without their star Josh Smith.
According to ajc.com, Smith, who injured his knee in Game 2, is doubtful for Game 3 in Boston.
The person said Smith has patellar tendonitis with inflammation in the injured area but an MRI revealed no structural damage. If Smith misses Game 3 he likely would return for Game 4 Sunday in Boston, according to the person.
And if Smith should be out of action for Game 3, Atlanta could also be without Al Horford (pectoral injury) and Zaza Pachulia (foot injury) leaving the Hawks in a world of trouble playing in TD Garden. Something coach Larry Drew is fully aware of.
“I ask every day how they are doing, but me asking and wanting them back is not going to speed up the process whether they are ready or not,” Drew said. “If they are ready and they can play I am sure they would play. If Josh is not ready to go, and if Zaza and Al are not ready, I will just have to be without all three guys and we will march on. As bad as I want those guys back, if those guys aren’t ready to play I can’t push it or pressure them into playing.”
However, if you are Boston, you got to be loving this bit of news. Without Smith, Horford and Pachulia, Atlanta would be a very depleted team ripe for the picking. Not to mention, leaving the Hawks with no real low post scorer for Boston to contend with.
In two games, Smith has averaged a whopping 19 points, 1.5 blocks, 4.5 assists, 15 rebounds in 40 minutes against Boston. So now the question becomes, who will pick up the slack should Smith not play? Can you say Joe Johnson? You know, the same Johnson who got a fat contract seasons ago.
Joe will have to step up his game in Game 3. Yes, he is averaging 16.5 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds in these two games with Boston, but when you lose Smith, Atlanta must looks to Johnson to carry the burden. Besides, all Atlanta would have would be Tracy McGrady, Ivan Johnson, Jeff Teague, Jason Collins, and Marvin Williams left on the squad. That won’t be enough to win Game 3 against a battle-tested Celtics squad.