BOSTON Doc Rivers has spent the past couple of days focusing on today's opponent, the Los Angeles Clippers.
But that didn't stop him from taking time out of his preparation to spend some time with free agent Greg Oden.
"It was just a chance to get to know Greg a little better," Danny Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com on Saturday.
Oden, who was waived by Portland in March, plans to spend this year rehabilitating his surgically repaired knees which have limited him to just 82 games played in five seasons.
The Celtics are among the many teams to express interest in signing the top pick in the 2007 NBA draft next season.
"I said hi to him," Rivers said. "We reminisced about high school days when I watched him in AAU. But other than that, I thought far more about the guys we're playing (today) than next year."
While his career has been marred by injuries, the 7-foot-1 center has proven to be a solid defensive presence when healthy.
In Portland, Oden averaged 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds along with 1.4 blocks per game.
His struggles to stay healthy came on the heels of one season at Ohio State where he helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA Final Four.
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BOSTON – Before their first-round series began with the Celtics, the Hawks had a decisive advantage when it came to experience.
The bulk of last year’s team, which finished with the best record in the East and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, was back. They’re facing a Boston team that began the season with the fifth-youngest roster in the NBA.
During Atlanta’s journey, there have been many lessons learned.
How to close out teams on the road, something they will try to do tonight against Boston in Game 6 of their best-of-seven first round series.
“It’s fair to say anytime you’re trying to close out a team, it’s the most difficult game,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “There’s a desperation that they’ll have that you have to match. Our players have been in this situation before; hopefully find a way to get it done.”
Last season, the Hawks closed out their first- and second-round series with Game 6 wins on the road at Brooklyn and Washington.
Winning on the road takes a tremendous amount of focus and attention to detail.
That will be easier said than done, especially playing at the TD Garden, which has been a House of Horrors for Atlanta when it comes to playoff games.
Boston comes into tonight’s game having won 10 straight against the Hawks at home in the playoffs, with the last loss coming in 1988. That’s just part of a 22-2 all-time record Boston has against the Hawks at home in the playoffs which includes a perfect 9-0 mark at the TD Garden.
And in this series, there really has been a home-court advantage with each of the first five games having been won by the home team.
It’s a trend the Hawks will be focused on trying to end tonight.
But to do so won’t be easy, especially in the face of a crowd that has been tremendously important to Boston thus far in this series.
No one knows this better than Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder, who was booed every time he touched the ball in Boston’s Game 4 victory, which was also the worst game for Schroder in this series.
The booing stemmed from a Game 3 incident involving Schroder and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas that potentially could have ended with Thomas being suspended for Game 4.
Instead, league officials reviewed the incident and eventually ruled a flagrant-1 penalty against Thomas for the contact he made with Schroder’s head.
“I just try to compete and try to win games,” said Schroder who had seven points on 3-for-13 shooting in Game 4. “They have a good crowd. They help their players. It don’t matter to me. I just try to win games.”
Thomas received similar treatment from the Atlanta crowd in Game 5 and like Schroder, had a similarly horrible night (seven points, 3-for-12 shooting) offensively.
It speaks to one of the many unspoken challenges that tend to prop up the deeper you get into a playoff series that makes winning on the road even tougher.
“You just have to fight through it,” Schroder said. “It’s the playoffs.”
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