Boston Celtics

Hawks still see Celts as team to beat in East

Hawks still see Celts as team to beat in East

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

ATLANTA The Chicago Bulls have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat have had the most hype.

In between them, literally and figuratively, is the Boston Celtics.

While the C's may not be the sexiest pick to come out of the East this season, Atlanta Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson still view the Celtics as the team to beat.

"I know when playoffs come, they're going to be hitting on all cylinders," Johnson told CSNNE.com.

Even with the Celtics struggling of late, Johnson said regular-season struggles don't really impact a team like the Celtics.

"They've been there before," he said. "They understand what it takes to win, take their game up two or three notches. You have to respect that."

Hawks forward Josh Smith certainly does.

"They're the team until somebody proves them wrong," Smith said. "They've been the team for these past couple of years."

And while Smith is quick to recognize the success that Chicago and Miami have had this season, "those teams . . . are hot teams that people are talking about right now. What they have to understand is, this is a veteran ballclub and they've been in these situations. Like everybody says, the regular season doesn't matter. It's what you do in the postseason. They have three Hall of Fame players, and they've already figured out how to get it done with each other. The Miami situation is still up in the air, how they're going ot make it work in the postseason. This team, they already understand. They know."

Celtics center Nenad Krstic was with the team, but didn't play against the Hawks and won't play Sunday against the Pistons after suffering a right knee injury in the second quarter of Boston's 107-97 win at San Antonio on Thursday.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com that Krstic will have an MRI performed on the knee Saturday afternoon.

Without Krstic, the Celtics once again find themselves short-handed at the center position.

Jermaine O'Neal, who returned to action against the Spurs after being out with a left knee injury since late-January, will continue to come off the bench while the C's move Glen Davis into the starting lineup.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Report: Thomas won't need hip surgery

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Report: Thomas won't need hip surgery

Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe Wednesday that Isaiah Thomas will not need surgery on his right hip after being hampered late in the postseason. 

Thomas originally suffered the injury March 15 against the Timberwolves and missed two games before reaggravating it in Game 6 of the second round against the Wizards. He played the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals but was shut down for the final three. 

“Isaiah is making good progress,” Ainge told the Globe. “He’s out on the court; he’s shooting. He’s full-speed ahead on the stationary bike and working in the swimming pool. He’s progressing nicely.”

The Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach wrote that the team waited for swelling to go down before determining whether surgery would be needed, and that “barring any further setbacks,” he will not. 

Thomas is coming off a career year in which he averaged 28.9 points a game. He is entering the final year of his contract.