A lot of people are talking about the keys to this pivotal game six NBA playoff matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. The keys being put out there are important, but not the real deciding factor of this series. Most of these factors can be easily dismissed.
It is important for Atlanta to seize the size advantage with Al Horford. Horford had a great game five, but his presence was not really felt down low. Most of his points came off his sweet fifteen foot jump shot. His rebounding was because guys like Brandon Bass are just terrible rebounders that seem to lack the knowledge of great positioning and timing. Horford should have had twenty boards against this team had he played better in the post.
The reason this key is not really valid is the simple fact Boston is a terrible rebounding team and yet they still win. Most big men with any skill torch Boston down low or hit the mid range shot. The Celtics should lose because of this and yet due to spectacular play in other areas like shooting and defense the team just grinds out wins in spite of this. Horford could score twenty points and grab ten boards and Boston’s defense could still secure the win by shutting down guys like Josh Smith and Joe Johnson. The Celtics did this in game five and despite Horford’s big game at home the Hawks almost lost.
The next silly notion is it has to be the Rajon Rondo show for this team to win tonight. Rondo does need to play well, but in game one he had a very good game and the team still lost. They also won game two to take the control of this series without him. Rondo is not the X factor in this series if one has watched the games and the way they have played out. He may control the tempo of play, but he needs guys to make shots and get the scoring going.
The guy that is the X factor and will determine both this game and the series is one Paul Pierce. When Pierce plays well, Boston handles the Hawks with ease. In game one Pierce could not buy a basket and the team lost. Game two was the Paul Pierce show as he dominated this Hawks team with a performance for the ages. Game three was also another great scoring night for Pierce as he attacked the basket and got the free throw line. Game four was Pierce is in “the zone” and Atlanta went down hard. Pierce struggled in game five and Boston lost. Notice the trend here?
The bottom line is a lot of factors go into deciding a game. Yes, Kevin Garnett has to play great defense and Rajon Rondo has to play well for Boston. Yes, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith have to have big games in Boston. However, the X factor thus far in this series is the play of Paul Pierce. Pierce’s play will decide this series. I just hope that knee injury does not hold him up like it did in game five. My money is on a huge night from Pierce tonight in front of a jacked up Garden crowd. Remember Go Green Or Go Home!!!!!