Hawks-Celtics Preview

The Boston Celtics’ penchant for blowing big leads in recent

home games has left Brad Stevens providing marketing suggestions to

his front office.

The last time the Celtics met the Atlanta Hawks ended with the

type of comeback Stevens would prefer.

After rallying from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit

against the Hawks last month, Boston looks for a fourth straight

win in this series in Tuesday’s matinee at TD Garden.

The Celtics (13-17) blew a 21-point lead in a 107-106 loss to

Detroit on Dec. 18, an 18-point lead in a 106-99 loss to Washington

three days later and let most of a 22-point cushion disappear

Saturday before holding off Cleveland 103-100.

”You know, I was telling (team President) Rich Gotham it should

have been promoted as part of our holiday package,” Stevens said.

”Every game is an adventure.”

Boston has been outscored by an average of 9.0 points in the

second half of its last seven home games.

“Again, we’ve made the last couple weeks an adventure, and we

haven’t played the right way the whole game,” the coach said. “And

whether that’s in the first half or the fourth quarter, we have to

become a better team for 48 minutes.”

The Celtics have lost seven games when ahead or tied at the

half, the most in the Eastern Conference.

“I don’t think we really get concerned about it,” center Jared

Sullinger said of opponents rallying against the Celtics. “We are

kind of cool, calm, and collected. Everybody is going to make their

run in this league, we just have to learn how to keep a lead.”

The Hawks (17-14) couldn’t hang onto a sizable one when they saw

Boston last month. Atlanta led 76-64 with 11:14 remaining, but the

Celtics finished the game on a 30-11 run to win 94-87.

The Hawks will play their third game without center Al Horford,

who will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair his torn

right pectoral muscle. Paul Millsap had 33 points and 13 boards in

a 118-116 overtime win against Charlotte on Saturday, but was held

to 17 and missed 10 of 14 field-goal attempts in Sunday’s 109-102

loss at Orlando.

Atlanta took a brief three-point lead in the fourth, but then

gave up a 9-0 run as it played its third game in four nights – and

its first in the past four that didn’t involve at least one

overtime period.

”I don’t know when fatigue comes in,” coach Mike Budenholzer

said. ”Obviously, we had enough to come back and take the lead. I

think you have to give Orlando credit more than anything. They made

some plays and their defense picked up and we weren’t able to

execute. We couldn’t attack.”

Jeff Teague has attacked plenty of late, averaging 25.5 points

and 9.3 assists while shooting 53.3 percent in the last four games,

and he may be eager to redeem himself against Boston. Teague went 3

for 15 against the Celtics last month.

Atlanta has lost six of its last seven on the road, allowing an

average of 112.7 points.