NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, March 9th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (10-49) at Boston Celtics (31-29), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - For the first time since being sent back to Boston prior to the trade deadline, Antoine Walker will face the squad that dealt him as he leads the Celtics against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Banknorth Garden.
Walker was re-acquired by the Celtics from Atlanta for Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a future first round draft choice. The Hawks weren't attempting to improve their team in the short term, as Payton has been bought out and re-signed with Boston. Gugliotta is lone piece of the deal that has been somewhat valuable for the Hawks.
Since the deal, the Hawks are 0-6, while the Celtics are 4-1. Boston is 31-29 on the year, while Atlanta is an Eastern Conference-worst 10-49.
Walker has been outstanding in five games for the Celtics, registering 21.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest. Meanwhile, Payton has tallied 12.2 points and six assists for Boston this season.
Boston sits atop the Atlantic Division, 2 1/2 games ahead of second place Philadelphia. The Celtics saw a four-game win streak come to an end on Sunday, as they fell 99-97 to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Garden.
Ricky Davis scored a game-high 22 points for the Celtics, but he missed on a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. Walker chipped in 16 points in the loss and Paul Pierce added 12 points and nine assists. Payton tacked on 17 points and six assists in the win.
Raef LaFrentz tallied 12 points and Mark Blount posted 10 points in the losing effort. Boston took the loss despite shooting 54.4 percent, including 4-of-9 (.444) from three-point range. The Celtics drained 7-of-9 (.778) from the free throw line.
Boston, which is in the midst of a six-game homestand, has won seven of nine and 11 of its last 15 home games. The Celtics are 21-10 in their friendly confines this season.
Atlanta has dropped 12 consecutive games, four short of their franchise worst 16-game skid in 1976. The Hawks' woes continued with a 105-101 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on Tuesday evening.
Tyronn Lue scored a season-best 27 points and Al Harrington had 19 along with nine assists for the Hawks, who blew an 11-point lead after one quarter and continued their futility on the road. Obinna Ekezie posted 14 points, Josh Childress tallied 13 and Predrag Drobnjak added 10.
Atlanta nailed 51.8 percent from the field, including 3-of-9 (.333) from three-point range. The Hawks hit 12-of-17 (.706) from the charity stripe in the defeat.
Prior to the game, the Hawks placed forward Kevin Willis on the injured list with a strained lower back and activated rookie Donta Smith, who had two points in 10 minutes.
Atlanta has dropped its last 22 games away from home since an 88-72 win at Detroit on December 10. The Hawks, who are in the midst of a three-game road trip, are just 2-29 in foreign buildings this season.
These teams have split a pair of meetings this season with the home team winning both games. Atlanta has actually won four of the last six meetings in this series. However, the Hawks have lost nine of their last 11 trips to Boston.
03/09 10:14:13 ET