BOSTON — Throughout this season, some of the Boston Celtics' best stretches of play have been fueled by serendipitous acts that they had no control over.
The season-ending torn right ACL injury of Rajon Rondo, who was at Friday's game against Atlanta, fueled the Celtics to a strong surge in his absence.
And the recent foot injury to Kevin Garnett has created this new "big" lineup that seems on the verge of producing similar success as the C's went with a larger-than-usual lineup which delivered a big win, 118-107, over the Atlanta Hawks.
With the victory, Boston (38-34) has now won two in a row - both with Chris Wilcox at center and Paul Pierce sliding over to the shooting guard position.
More important, it gives the C's the head-the-head series with Atlanta, 3-1. And that would give the Celtics the tie-breaker for playoff seeding if the two finish with an identical regular season record.
Like most games between these two, one team pulled away in the first half in what had the makings of a potential blow-out.
On Friday it was the Celtics who pulled ahead by as many as 11 points in the second quarter courtesy of a 19-8 run by the Celtics which was capped off by a 3-pointer from Jason Terry (his fourth 3-pointer of the first half) that made it a 59-48 game.
Atlanta cut Boston's lead back to single digits, but Jordan Crawford's 3-pointer at the horn lifted the C's to a 66-56 halftime lead.
Boston continued to control the action in the third which ended with the Celtics on top, 92-80.
But as folks have seen when these two teams play, no lead - no matter how big or how late in the game - is totally safe.
Friday was no exception as the Hawks opened the fourth quarter by cutting the Celtics lead in half (six points) with a 12-6 run capped off by a Kyle Korver lay-up with 7:33 to play.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has seen this scene played out before, and wasn't in the mood for a repeat.
After a Celtics time-out, Jason Terry - the hot hand for the C's in the first half - drilled a 15-foot jumper to give the Celtics a little more cushion.
The C's soon regained their control of the game, pushing their lead to as many as 15 points in what was a game that the Hawks felt they had to find a way to win.
Before the game, Hawks forward Josh Smith spoke with CSNNE.com about the importance of Friday's game to the Hawks.
"They're behind us and they're trying to move up in the rankings, and we're trying to keep eveyrbody behind us, behind us," Smith said. "We're trying to move up as well."
But that was not to be on Friday, as the Celtics now trail the Hawks by 1.5 games for the No. 6 spot which would go to the C's now if the two ended the regular season with an identical regular season record.
And Boston's win on Friday was one in which the C's got a couple of unexpected, serendipitous-like contributions from players like Shavlik Randolph who almost tallied his first career double-double by scoring nine points to go along with a career-high tying 13 rebounds.
And Terry, who readily admits he has been more inconsistent this season, had 22 points off the bench which included five, 3-pointers.
Atlanta, playing without Al Horford (stomach flu), was led by Josh Smith and Jeff Teague who had 18 and 17 points, respectively.