In November, the Boston Celtics had their lengthy home winning streak against the Atlanta Hawks snapped. The two-time defending Atlantic Division champions, though, have also enjoyed plenty of success in Atlanta lately.
Coming off one of its most thrilling victories of the season, Boston will try to win its fourth straight at Philips Arena on Friday night.
Including four victories in the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Celtics (25-8) had won nine straight at TD Garden over Atlanta (22-12) prior to a 97-86 loss Nov. 13. Joe Johnson(notes), a former first-round draft pick of Boston’s, led the Hawks with 24 points.
Boston, which has won three straight regular-season visits to Atlanta, won 13 of its first 14 road games this season before dropping three straight away from home.
The Celtics snapped that skid with Wednesday’s 112-106 overtime victory over Miami. Boston trailed by 11 in the fourth quarter and was down by two with 0.6 seconds left after Dwyane Wade(notes) stole the ball from Ray Allen(notes) and raced in for a dunk, but Paul Pierce(notes) threw a perfect lob pass to Rajon Rondo(notes), who scored the game-tying layup as time expired.
“We’ve been working on that play for a long time, actually since last year,” Rondo said after finishing with 25 points and eight assists. “As soon as Wade stole the ball, I knew exactly that was the play we were going to run.”
Rondo missed the previous game with a sore left hamstring, while a right knee infection had sidelined Pierce for the previous five. Both are expected to play again Friday, but teammate Kevin Garnett(notes) will likely sit out his fourth straight game due to a sore knee.
Starting for an injured Garnett in the teams’ last meeting in Atlanta - a 99-93 Celtics victory March 27 - Glen Davis(notes) scored 19 points and tied a career high with 12 boards. Davis himself has only recently returned from a broken right thumb he suffered in October.
“The sum of our parts is what makes us great,” Allen said. “When somebody goes down, somebody else has to step up and other guys have and will in the future. Anytime you lose a guy, you miss them and feel the weight of it.”
Atlanta ended a four-game slide Wednesday with a 119-89 rout at home over hapless New Jersey. The Hawks shot 57.3 percent from the field and made a season-high 13 3-pointers one day after they’d held a players-only meeting.
Crawford, who is second in the league in scoring off the bench at 17.1 points per game, sparked the Hawks in the Nov. 13 victory in Boston, scoring 16 of his 18 in the second half.
Johnson should be well rested for Friday’s game after sitting the entire fourth quarter against the Nets. He had 20 points and five assists.
“When (Josh) does what he did tonight, we’re tough to beat,” Johnson said.
Smith is averaging 16.3 points, 8.1 boards and 3.7 assists in his last seven home games.