Celtics

Who will host first round between Celtics-Hawks?

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Who will host first round between Celtics-Hawks?

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics will play the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The only question that remains is who will be laying out the fine linen (or whatever you're supposed to do) as a gracious host when the two meet in Game 1?

Ever since the C's locked up the Atlantic Division and the No. 4 seed that came with it, they have clearly made rest a priority over home court advantage in the first round.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have made getting home court in the first round of the playoffs an absolute must-have when you consider the number of minutes their core players are logging at a time when most teams are scaling back the playing time of their main players.

Yes, the Hawks are the younger team and can certainly withstand the physical grind of playing their usual minutes going into the playoffs.

But in the postseason, mental toughness on a lot of nights trumps being able to withstand physical fatigue.

And it is that mental toughness that should have the Hawks a bit worried about the C's, regardless of whether or not they have home court advantage.

Boston won the head-to-head regular season series 2-1, with the lone loss coming just a few days ago in Atlanta.

It was a game in which Doc Rivers rested Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, a game in which Rajon Rondo (back), Ray Allen (ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (knee) were all back in Boston nursing injuries.

And the game, which should have been a Hawks blowout, came down to the final minute or two before the Hawks escaped with the victory.

"As far as I'm concerned," said Hawks coach Larry Drew, "whether Boston lost the game or not, they accomplished what they wanted -- to have his reserves come out and compete at a high level, and to take us down to the wire the way they did."

And while Atlanta may want to pretend as if the win didn't mean much or would have little impact on this series, there's no escaping the reality that the way things went down on April 20 will be at or near the forefront of the Hawks' thinking as they prepare for Game 1 of their playoff series.

"For us," said Hawks guard Joe Johnson, "It definitely sits a little uneasy. I don't feel like we brought our 'A' game, particularly given they had a few guys out."

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Celtics can't get it done without Kyrie

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: Celtics can't get it done without Kyrie

0:41 - With Kyrie Irving out with shoulder soreness the Celtics looked like a shell of themselves, losing to the 76ers, 89-80. A. Sherrod Blakely joins Michael Holley and D.J. Bean from the TD Garden to break down the loss.

7:43 - Tom Brady is injured! This is not a drill! Brady missed practice on Thursday and remains a question mark for the AFC Championship Game. Tom Giles, Jeff Howe, D.J. Bean and Tom Curran discuss the severity of the injury.

15:09 - Dave Dombrowski’s plan for the upcoming season - or lack of one - has continued to confuse everyone, though he made it clear that he’s not waiting for next year’s huge free agent class. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Tom Curran react to Dealin’ Dave’s comments on the situation.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE

Kyrie Irving: Sitting out with shoulder injury 'just precautionary'

Kyrie Irving: Sitting out with shoulder injury 'just precautionary'

BOSTON – Kyrie Irving has long since understood the balancing act he must walk between embracing the moment while being mindful of the big picture. 

That’s why the decision to sit out Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia was one that, while certainly didn’t do Boston any favors against the Sixers on Thursday, it does provide him some much-needed downtime to rest his sore left shoulder.

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Sixers

The good news is that tests taken on the shoulder show no structural damage. And with the way the schedule is shaping up now, Irving will have plenty of time to rest and be ready to play when the Celtics return to the floor on Sunday to host the Orlando Magic. 

“Just precautionary stuff, making sure everything's alright from a strength perspective,” was how Irving described the injury. “Obviously a few days will put me where I need to be. And we'll just see what goes on for Sunday's game, but you know it's nothing too crazy, just giving me a little discomfort over the last few weeks and I've just been playing through it doing what's best in terms of preparing best for every single game. I thought it was best just to get a few tests and make sure everything's alright so, everything's cool.”

Irving said the tests came back negative which is a huge positive for the Celtics and Irving who was selected as an NBA all-star starter for next month’s game. 

As far as how it happened, Irving said there was no specific event or play in which he suffered a blow to the shoulder or anything like that. 

“Gradual soreness” is how Irving described the injury.  “You know, kinda going into my shot, driving left, just not feeling as confident as I would like to be and just thought it would be best just to take a day or two to get it evaluated, meet with our medical staff, meet with our strength conditioning coach and strengthen it up and then hopefully go on Sunday.”

The Celtics (34-12) have now lost two of the three games they played this season without Irving. It is a small sample size, but there’s no denying the impact that a healthy Irving has on this roster when it comes to impacting winning. 

“First off, I just had to make sure some of the major parts of my shoulder just weren't damaged,” said Irving who added, “And then at this point it's just a strength program and doing what's best with that.” 

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