Who will host first round between Celtics-Hawks?

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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."

Hayes' handling of Felger makes Price look even worse

Hayes' handling of Felger makes Price look even worse

Jimmy Hayes and David Price both had the opportunity to confront media members recently. The guy with nothing to lose somehow handled it significantly better than the highly paid superstar. 

According to Michael Felger, Hayes, fresh off being bought out of his Bruins contract this summer, approached him in Nantucket over the weekend, handed him a beer and then lit into him, as the Dorchester native was what Felger called “really unhappy” with Felger and Mazz for some shots he felt were too personal. 

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Now, we shouldn’t need to get into how Hayes should feel about the local media vs. how Price should feel, but here’s a reminder of each’s situation: Hayes is a local kid who was billed as something he wasn’t. No one expected things to go as poorly as they did, but they did and it was ugly. 

Price, on the other hand, was a highly touted free agent signing who had a good first year in Boston and, after injury delayed the start of his 2017, has been good on the field and pissy as hell off it. He’s yelled at two media members in the name of being a good teammate, most recently when he went after Dennis Eckersley on the team plane. 

Worst-case scenario, Hayes’ days an NHL regular could be over. Price remains in the midst of a prolific career and is making $30 million this season. There’s no question of who’s had it worse. 

So when you see how each handled the situation -- and even consider that alcohol was involved in what was the more civil case -- Price’s treatment of Eckersley (according to Dan Shaughnessy’s report) looks even worse. 

With the media, Hayes is polite, yet soft-spoken. In the setting in which he found himself with one of his biggest critics, he didn’t need to be. He could have tried to embarrass Felger, as Price did by mocking Eckerlsey in front of an airplane full of people. 

Instead, Hayes gave Felger a piece of his mind and the two moved on. Hayes doesn’t need to worry about Felger given that he’s not playing here anymore, but he got to make Felger answer for any perceived low blows. 

Felger was more critical of Hayes than Eckersley is of the Red Sox. In fact, Paula Abdul was often more critical of Idol contestants than Eckersley is of the Red Sox. That the players apparently hate him is perplexing, as they’re the only ones who think he comes off as malicious. 

Confrontations between players and media members certainly happen throughout the course of a season, though they typically follow a more standard format: Player says something to reporter because he doesn’t like their story or question, uncomfortable exchange takes place and, often times, apologies are given when cooler heads have prevailed. 

Yet there’s been no apology to Eckersley from Price, and there’s little reason to believe cooler heads will prevail as it relates to Price’s attitude toward the media. Hayes’ handling of his confrontation said something about his character; Price’s confrontations are only serving to build a unnecessarily negative reputation.