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- Hawks centers Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia will be back in action for the Hawks Friday night, but neither of them will start at center against the visiting Celtics and not because of their injuries. Journeyman Ivan Johnson — who had 12 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday in his first NBA start as the Hawks won 104-92 in Charlotte — will get that nod again. The 6-foot-9 Johnson, typically a power forward, “played really well [against the Bobcats],” Atlanta coach Larry Drew told reporters before Friday’s game. “He has a presence when he is in the game . . . I really want to ride his energy.”
- Horford — who missed the Charlotte game with left hamstring/calf issues — will slide into the starting lineup at power forward, which is where many NBA observers feel he best fits. Also, Josh Smith will move down to the small forward spot, which he has at times been vocal about (and not in favor of), and Kyle Korver will start at shooting guard rather than at small forward.
- Pachulia, who did not play in Charlotte because of a sore right Achilles’ tendon, is available.
- With a season-worst five-game losing streak, Boston coach Doc Rivers is none to happy about having to go on the road Friday after Thursday’s home loss to the Knicks. “It’s going to be hard; I knew that when I saw the schedule,” he said. “You know how I feel about what we’re about to do, no reason to get on the soapbox, because it’s not going to change.”
- Although Rivers earlier this week vowed that changes will be made if the Celtics don’t improve, Boston will go with its typical lineup (when everybody is healthy) in Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett in the front court, and Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in the backcourt.
- The Hawks continue to be without shooting guard/small forward Anthony Morrow (sore lower back).
– Matt Winkeljohn