ATLANTA For most of this season, the Boston Celtics have been a team built on opportunities.
If you get one, take it.
That's exactly what C's center Ryan Hollins has done lately, whose play may earn him even more minutes -- and potentially move him ahead of rookie Greg Stiemsma in the rotation.
Hollins' play was among the few highlights for the Celtics in their 87-86 loss to Atlanta in Game 5.
He had 5 points and 4 rebounds, numbers that came well short of indicating just how much of an impact he had on the C's in Game 5.
Boston was plus-6 with Hollins in the game. The only Celtics with a higher plusminus ratio in Game 5 were Mickael Pietrus (plus-11) and Kevin Garnett (plus-17).
"His energy . . . the one thing you know when Ryan comes in the game, is something's going to happen," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That's why we put him in and we rode him."
In just a few minutes of court time, Hollins' aggressive play seemed to bother the Hawks who managed to foul him three times away from the ball.
Ranked by a survey of players as the NBA's 11th dirtiest player, it's clear that Hollins is from the Kevin Garnett School of Mental Warfare.
When asked about possibly getting under the Hawks' skin a bit, he replied, "Hopefully. My job is to come out and play hard."
Said Rivers: "He's an instigator with how hard plays. He gets under people's skin. That's fine by us."
That's exactly what he did.
His play was especially important during a critical 10-0 run by Boston that featured Rajon Rondo either scoring or assisting on all but two points during the run.
Part of that success involved Hollins, who helped force a couple of turnovers in addition to catching a lob pass from Rajon Rondo for an alley-oop in the second half.
"I'm always trying to bring energy," Hollins said. "If I'm not bringing energy or changing the game, I'm not doing my job. So that's what I do."
And he may continue to get opportunities as Greg Stiemsma continues to struggle.
Atlanta's athletic frontcourt has seemed a bit overwhelming at times for Stiemsma, who has also labored up and down the court with foot issues.
Certainly his health has been a factor in Hollins' rise to a more prominent role.
But more than anything else, Hollins is simply playing better -- a lot better -- than Stiemsma.
Atlanta has the kind of lineup versatility that makes this series one seemingly more suited for Hollins than Stiemsma.
But don't think for a minute that Hollins is taking his increase in playing time for granted.
"I'm ready for any situation," Hollins said.