Who will host first round between Celtics-Hawks?


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."