Blakely: How Celts can close out Hawks

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Blakely: How Celts can close out Hawks

ATLANTA At the very end of Ray Allen's post-game media scrum Tuesday night, he left these chewable crumbs that we plan to feast off of today.

"We have to go back to the drawing board," he said.

And so we will.

There's not much value in spending all our time on what went wrong in Boston's 87-86 Game 5 loss. Rather than do that, we'll use what we've learned from the entire series to this point as a learning tool and move forward.

Here we'll highlight three things the C's can do that should put this series to bed Thursday night.

STAY HUNGRY

The Celtics have proven repeatedly to be a team that doesn't handle prosperity well. It seems the role of favorite, even if it's just for one game, is one that's too difficult for them to handle at times.

In Game 5, Boston played for long stretches like a team that wasn't in a must-win situation. That is not the case anymore.

A loss in Game 6 and the C's will find themselves on the verge of what would be one of the greatest playoff collapses in franchise history.

The best way to approach Game 6 for the C's is to have a Game 7 mentality. Back in 2008, Boston annihilated the Hawks in their Game 7 at the Garden.

Even though last night the Hawks found a way to stay alive for another game, their Game 5 win wasn't exactly the kind of victory that's all of a sudden going to bring back their confidence that they can win this series.

At the very least though, the Hawks feel they can compete.

Part of the C's job -- and they need to do it in the first quarter -- is to break the Hawks' spirit with a major run and show no signs of letting up in the second or third quarter.

In other words, whip out the Game 4 plan and do it again.

PAGING RYAN HOLLINS

The Celtics need to play Ryan Hollins more.

I can't believe what I just typed, so let me do it again just to make sure this isn't some type of out-of-body, crazy dream thing going on.

The Celtics need to play Ryan Hollins more.

It still feels kind of weird, but it's the truth.

Hollins is giving the Celtics so much more in this series than Greg Stiemsa, it's not even really a debatable topic who should play more.

Stiemsma has earned the right to play because of what he has done in the regular season. But this is the playoffs. The regular season means diddly-squat right now.

Doc Rivers has to play the guys who are making plays. And Hollins -- no matter how out of control or wild he seems at times -- is making lots of plays.

In the Game 5 loss, he had a plusminus ratio of plus-6. Only Mickael Pietrus (plus-11) and Kevin Garnett (plus-17) were better.

He's hustling for loose balls. He's getting under the skin of Hawks players. He's catching alley-oop dunks from Rajon Rondo.

And he is . . . rebounding.

With Hollins, the good play that the C's are getting from him, could dry up at anytime so it's important that they ride this out for as long as they can -- even if it means sitting Stiemsma.

"The one thing you know when Ryan comes into the game, something's gonna happen," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "It's gonna be good or bad, but something's gonna happen."

LESS IS MORE FOR RONDO

While it's great to see Rajon Rondo being such a willing participant in Boston's efforts to score more points, the numbers show that more shots from Rondo doesn't necessarily make the Celtics a better team.

Consider this: In this playoff series, Rondo has taken 10 or more shots in the four games he played (he missed Game 2 while serving a suspension for making contact with official Marc Davis near the end of Game 1).

In those games, the Celtics are 2-2.

During the regular season, Boston was 12-13 in games in which he took 10 or more shots. One of the overlooked aspects of his recent run of double-doubles has been the fact that many of them have come on nights when Rondo was not a particularly efficient shooter.

In Boston's 87-86 Game 5 loss, he made some incredible plays both shooting the ball and as passer. But he also missed some easy ones, too, which accounted for him scoring 13 points while needing to take 17 shots to do so.

Every night, Rondo has to find that balance between when to search for his shot, and when to continue to find his teammates. For most of this season, he's done a really good job of doing so.

But for the C's to close out this series on Thursday, him finding that happy medium would make the process a whole lot smoother.

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons will retire the jersey number of former UConn star Rip Hamilton tonight, an instrumental figure in the Pistons’ success in the early 2000s that included an NBA title in 2004.
 
Although Hamilton never played for Boston, his impact can be felt within the Celtics locker room.
 
Boston’s Amir Johnson spent his first four NBA seasons as a teammate of Hamilton's in Detroit.
 
In that time, Johnson acknowledges how many of the positive things folks associate with him come from lessons he learned from Hamilton.
 
“He was so relentless when he ran,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I remember working out with him one summer. For him to even get his shot off, he sprints full court, goes back down shooting shots, and he just kept doing this over and over and over again, full court sprinting . . . To see that as a young kid, and at his age, just working hard like that, it was great to see.”
 
James Young grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., so he watched Hamilton’s scoring prowess up close and personal.
 
And as he continued to evolve as a player, Young would see Hamilton during the summer months while attending Hamilton’s basketball camps.
 
“I was there every year, won MVP a few times,” Young told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great guy, a great player.”
 
And, like Hamilton, Young has a lanky frame for an NBA player, which was among the many reasons Young acknowledged Hamilton as being one of his first significant basketball influences as a youth.
 
“For sure,” Young said. “His mid-range game was crazy, great shooter. He was always consistent.”
 
And that consistency has paid off in the highest honor an NBA franchise can bestow upon a player.
 
“That’s big time,” Johnson said. “He’s a champion, great father, great baller. To have his jersey retired is an honor. To see the success he had in the league, and to see his jersey retired with the greats, it's definitely an honor. I’m glad I’ll be there to see that. Kudos to him. He’s a hard worker. Had a great career. I had my high school jersey retired, but to get your NBA jersey retired, that’s great.”
 
Hamilton played 14 seasons in the NBA, nine of which were with the Pistons. A career 17.1 points per game score, he averaged 18.4 with Detroit and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star three times (2006-2008).
 
Although he is known as one of the greatest mid-range shooters of his era, Hamilton began to expand his range over time. During the 2005-06 season, Hamilton shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (most of them being corner 3’s), which led the NBA that season.  

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

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