Celtics-Hawks preview: C's hope to halt losing streak

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C's hope to halt losing streak

ATLANTA The Boston Celtics are on the road again, looking for what continues to be an elusive victory.

And the losses are now piling up to the point where you have to dust off some of the history books just to see when things were this bad.

With five straight losses, a sixth consecutive defeat would lump this group into the same category as the 2006-2007 squad which is considered by many the worst Celtics team ever.

That squad lost six or more games on three separate occasions. Among those three stretches of futility was a franchise-worst 18 straight losses.

Only two players from that team - Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo - are still around.

Players aren't talking about, let alone thinking, that this season is going to be one of the worst ever.

There's too much talent and way too much time left in the season, for such thoughts.

But with each setback, there is a growing sense that the Celtics are running out of time to turn their season around.

And it seems every game, a new reason pops up as to why they are losing.

Early in the season, it was their defense. Then it was the bench not being productive enough. Then the starters played poorly. Now it's the entire team unable to knock down shots.

It's enough to create a game within the game involving second-guessing on the part of coaches and players.

But things have not digressed to that point ... yet.

"We definitely don't point fingers around here," said Kevin Garnett. "We are going to keep working as a group."

And it is that group mentality that still gives this team hope that they can eventually string a bunch of victories together despite a growing mountain of evidence to the contrary.

"We know that we have good players and we're a good team," C's guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "We haven't played like it, I know. But we're going to keep working at it, keep grinding and we'll get there. This team has too much talent to be down for too long. We'll figure it out and get it going."

The C's can take an important step in that direction tonight against Atlanta which has had its share of problems of late having lost seven of its last 11 games.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Points will be hard to come by for both teams which both two of the NBA's better scoring defenses. The C's come in giving up 95.8 points per game which ranks 8th in the league while the Hawks have limited opponents to 95.5 points per game which is the NBA's 6th-best scoring defense.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs Josh Smith: Bass continues to struggle at both ends of the floor for Boston, while Smith once again finds himself on the short list of all-star snubs. His omission has more to do with the Hawks slide than anything he did or didn't do statistically.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Leandro Barbosa was scoreless in about nine minutes on Thursday, but don't be surprised if he continues to get minutes off the bench. The C's offense is in a major funk right now, and Barbosa is one of the few guys whose strength is the ability to score in bunches.

STAT TO TRACK: Celtics need to keep the score below 100 points. The Hawks have split their last eight games, going 4-4. In the four wins they scored more than 100 points every night while averaging 105 points per game. In the four losses, they averaged just 80.8 points per game.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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0:41 - Celtics are reportedly trying to trade for Paul George and sign Gordon Hayward. Kevin O’Connor joins BST to break down how the Celtics could fit both players under the cap and what Boston would have to give up to acquire George. 

6:37 - Kevin O’Connor joins Michael Holley, Kayce Smith, and Tom Curran to talk about Blake Griffin, what kind of contract he could get, and if Griffin could be a better fit over Gordon Hayward. 

10:13 - With Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Phil Perry joins Tom Curran to discuss how Robert Kraft getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame might not be as easy of a process as you think. 

14:05 - If the Celtics were to add George and Hayward or Griffin, would they be a better team than the Cavaliers? Curran, Giles, and Smith discuss.