Well this series just got a lot more interesting. For most people, the winner of this series was seen as nothing more then a sacrificial lamb to the Chicago Bulls in the next round. Some people thought that the Celtics would have a chance to knock off the Bulls, but for the most part, this series was hardly talked about. Now, the winner of this series has a great shot to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, after the Bulls lost their star Derrick Rose to a torn ACL yesterday. Let’s take a closer look.

How the Celtics can Win: This is a matchup of two contrasting styles.  The Hawks are a very energy, high paced game, using their youth and speed to beat you. The Celtics, on the other hand, are a veteran led team that wants to beat you with their halfcourt offense.  The matchup for me to look at here is Kevin Garnett vs. Josh Smith. If the C’s want to win this series, Garnett is going to have to show the young gun a thing or two. Garnett is getting up there in years, but he still has the length to bother any player.  Also, look for Rajon Rondo to have another big series, causing people like me to do their yearly, “Is Rajon Rondo the best player in this series?” tweets. Just wait for them. When they come, I’ll tell you I told you so.

How the Hawks can Win: The Hawks are an interesting team. They are a very talented sqaud, and is a team that has been waiting to take the next step for a few years. Atlanta has won their first round series three years in a row now, winning alot of these 4-5 3-6 matchups. Joe Johnson is their main guy, and he’s one of the most underrated 4th quarter players in the league. If the Hawks need a big shot, he’s going to be the guy they look to, and for good reason. Josh Smith had a breakout season this year, and will need to keep putting up dominant stat lines for the Hawks. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they will be without Al Horford in this series, as he is still recovering from a pectoral injury.

Our Prediction: These two teams met in the playoffs four years ago, when the Celtics were the top seed, and Atlanta was the eight seed. In that series, the Hawks shocked everyone by pushing it to 7 games, before ultimately falling to the eventual champions.  These teams are four years older now, which is a good thing for the younger Hawks and a bad thing for the older Celtics. Despite the Celtics winning the season series 2-1, I like the Hawks to take the next step this year. I think Atlanta wins this series in 6 or 7, then goes on to knock off the Rose-less Bulls in the next round.