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Report: Nets make push for Hawks’ Josh Smith 02.11.13 at 9:54 am ET
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Josh Smith reportedly is the subject of trade talks between the Hawks and Nets. (AP)

The Celtics’ days of Atlantic Division dominance appear to be ending, and the division might soon get even tougher. According to an ESPN report that credits league sources, the Nets — who began Monday with a 1½-game lead over the Celtics for second place in the division behind the Knicks — are making a push to acquire Hawks forward Josh Smith or Bobcats guard Ben Gordon before the NBA’s Feb. 21 trading deadline.

Forward Kris Humphries is the player the Nets are said to be offering as the centerpiece of either deal, with shooting guard MarShon Brooks available as well.

Smith is set to become a free agent following this season and is expected to demand close to maximum salary, so the Hawks risk losing him and getting nothing in return if they stand pat.

The 6-foot-9 Smith is in his ninth NBA season, all with the Hawks, after going directly from high school to the pros. In 46 games this season, he’s averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 blocks — all slightly above his career averages.

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Getting up to speed on the NBA playoffs 05.07.10 at 11:04 am ET
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There was talk of injuries, non-injuries, guys missing practice, guys not getting MRIs. Oh, the things that can be reported on in a four-day period when there are no actual games to watch in the Celtics-Cavaliers series. Did there need to be this window between games? No, but that argument is for another day.

While the on-court action was lacking in the series New Englanders care most about, there was some action across the rest of the league.

The three other series stand at 2-0, as all the teams held serve at home, and here is a quick recap of what happened on the hardwood.

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Is Dwight Howard the real Superman? Sure looks like it in the Magic-Hawks series. (AP)

MAGIC VS. HAWKS

The Magic had a long layoff after sweeping the Bobcats in the first round, but there were no signs of rust, as they cruised to a 43-point win in Game 1. A 43-point win in the playoffs! The Magic followed that up with a 112-98 win on Thursday night, so kudos to the Hawks for cutting down on the margin of defeat.

Really, though, this Hawks team is mind-boggling. It seems as if the only team the Hawks can get up to play against is the Celtics. But they are far too talented to lose to anyone by 43 points.

Dwight Howard had a foul-filled first round against the Bobcats, but he is literally unstoppable vs. the Hawks. This probably would have happened against the Bucks as well, because they don’t have a big man that can match up against “Superman.”

In Game 1, Howard went for 21 points and 12 rebounds in just under 29 minutes, and the big man followed that up with an impressive 29 and 17 in Game 2.

The Celtics put down similar beatings on the Hawks in 2008 at the Garden, and the Hawks recovered to win every home game in Atlanta, but who knows what their mindset is like now? A 43-point loss in the playoffs would make a lot of people start thinking about vacation.

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Kobe Bryant has imposed his will against the Jazz. (AP)

LAKERS VS. JAZZ

Maybe all the Lakers needed was a wake-up call to get back on track. LA has been on a roll since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook put a scare into the defending champs in Games 3 and 4 of the opening round.

The Lakers have won four straight — two against the Thunder and two against the Jazz — and look poised to return to the NBA Finals.

Kobe Bryant has topped the 30-point plateau in his last three games, after back-to-back bad games against OKC. A healthy and efficient Bryant opens up opportunities for Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum on the inside, and with that length up front, the Lakers are tough to handle.

The Jazz might get a boost with the return of Andrei Kirilenko, and playing in Utah with the white-out stands is always a tough place to play.

Games 3 and 4 were not pretty for the Lakers in their last round, so the Jazz could get something going if they can take care of their home court.

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Jared Dudley has been a spark for the Suns in the playoffs. (AP)

SUNS VS. SPURS

In the first half of Game 2, the Spurs outplayed the Suns but couldn’t land a knockout blow. The Suns hung around and pulled away in the fourth and now own a 2-0 series lead. The Spurs and Suns have had all kinds of playoff battles over the years, and Steve Nash seems to be getting a little help from his supporting cast this time around

Former BC star Jared Dudley is bringing an energy and fire of the bench for Los Suns. Dudley had 11 points, but more importantly six rebounds — four offensive. The offensive rebounds in Game 2 probably are why the Suns won the game. They held an 18-7 advantage on the offensive glass, and on the extra possessions they were able to kick it out to wide-open shooters such as Jason Richardson (19 points on 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range) to knock out the Spurs.

San Antonio still is getting good production out of George Hill and its “Big Three” to have a chance in this series.

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Hawks Girl & “The Rivalry” 12.17.08 at 5:10 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics will put their 15 game win streak on the line tonight in Atlanta against the Hawks. The folks in Atlanta are obviously trying to play this game up to sell additional tickets. Have you seen how this game is positioned on the Atlanta Hawks web site? I mean, really, is the dramatic Braveheart-like music necessary in the video montage? The Hawks are pulling out all of the stops to try and jam the Philips Arena, including a half time performance by Ludacris (who is from Atlanta)! For those over 30 readers, this is Ludacris. It is too bad that this game isn’t sold out, because the Hawks are young, athletic, and play an exciting brand of basketball. Atlanta has proven over the years that it just isn’t a sports town with its terrible fan support for the local pro teams. This is just another example that this won’t be a rivalry until the Hawks fans get behind their team and show them the respect.

Meanwhile, back in title town, I think people are looking forward to this game as well. With that said, maybe for different reasons? Who remembers “Hot Hawks Girl” from last year’s playoffs? I think it’s fair to say that there will be some wandering eyeballs looking for her court side appearance once again tonight.

Ok, after that brief respite, we are back on track with some pre-game nuggets from our friends at STATs:

  • Boston has won four games in a row against Atlanta, including a 103-102 victory in the first match-up between these clubs this season.
  • The Hawks will be looking to extend their current win streak to four games in a row. Atlanta is 9-1 at home this season and has won seven in a row there.
  • The Celtics have won 15 consecutive games and their 23-2 start this season matches the best 25-game start in NBA history.
  • Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 25 points against the Jazz on Monday in his second 20-point performance of the season. Boston is 15-0 when Rondo scored in double figures this season.
  • Joe Johnson has made the fourth-most three-pointers in the league this season (57). Johnson has scored over 20 points in each of his last two meetings with the Celtics and is averaging 17.4 points in 15 career games against them.
  • Paul Pierce has scored at least 30 points in two of his last three meetings with Atlanta.

So enjoy “The Rivalry” tonight, but lets face it, the real rivalry is a match-up on Christmas Day against a team from L.A.

Read More: Atlanta, Boston, celtics, Hawks Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It