I am going to assume that the result tonight will be similar to the result from game 1, which means we'll head into Atlanta up 2-0. Bob Ryan, pinch-hitting for Tony Kornheiser on PTI last week, predicted the Celtics would defeat the Hawks 4 games to 1. The Hawks will circle the wagons heading into their first home game, Joe Johnson will go off, and Atlanta will win game 3, according to Ryan.
Maybe, maybe not.
I don't really care if Joe Johnson goes off, no more than I care if LeBron averages 40 points per game against the Celtics in Round 2 or Kobe averages 40 in the Finals.
Individual performances, by themselves, do not defeat a superior collective effort. Michael Jordan went off against the Celtics in Round 1 of the 1986 playoffs. Dominique Wilkins in 1988. Wilt Chamberlain went off against Russell countless times.
But none of them could carry their team to victory by themselves.
So let Joe Johnson go off.
But let's get the W.
That would give the Celtics six straight wins against the Hawks, regular season and playoffs combined, and the only thing for Atlanta to gain from a victory in game 4 would be a trip back to Boston for a good old fashioned arse whoopin'.
In other words, the Hawks might lay down in game 4, assuming we can win games 2 and 3. Even if they didn't completely throw in the towel, closing the series out in 4 would be motivation enough for the Cs to do just that.