Teams from opposite ends of the standings in the Eastern Conference do battle down in the Peach State. The white hot Boston Celtics are on the road as they face the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night. Boston reeled off a 14th straight victory as they rallied to defeat the Warriors 92-88 at home Thursday night. Atlanta snapped a four game skid by blasting the Kings, 126-80, at home on Wednesday in their most recent action. The Celtics have a 227-142 edge in the all-time regular season series and took the first meeting this season, 110-107, here on November 6.
Boston Celtics Go for 15th Straight Win
Boston, as has been the case in several games during this run, found itself down in the second half. The Celtics rallied from 17 points down in the third quarter to stun the Warriors, holding Golden State 30 points under their league leading scoring average. Boston has now won 14 straight after starting the year 0-2. The Celtics prevailed despite shooting a dismal 32.9 percent from the floor, including 7 of 32 from three point range. Boston controlled the boards 52-47 and won the game at the free throw line: they were 33 of 38 at the stripe while Golden State was 12 of 19. Jaylen Brown finished with 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the Celtics in the win.
The Celtics are tied for 23rd in the league in scoring offense with 102 points per game. Boston is 2nd in the league in rebounding with 47.9 boards per game and stand 17th with 21.6 assists per contest. Boston is above average on the defensive end: they are 1st in scoring defense, allowing 94.1 points per game. Kyrie Irving leads the team with 20.3 points and 5.3 assists plus 1.8 steals per game in his first year with the team. Al Horford averages 15.5 points, nine rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Marcus Smart chips in nine points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per contest. Jaylen Brown (15.1 points, 6.8 boards), rookie Jayson Tatum (13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds), Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris (13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Aron Baynes are key pieces in the rotation. Boston will miss their big free agent signing, Gordon Hayward, who is likely done for the year after suffering a fracture dislocation of his ankle in the opener. The Celtics are 27th in field goal percentage as they shoot 42.7 percent from the floor as a team. Boston is 15th in three pointers per game with 10.5 per night while the team is 24th in three point percentage as they hit 34.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Atlanta Hawks Try to Build Win Streak
Atlanta had lost four straight before winning a battle of doormats in convincing fashion by trouncing the Kings. The problem for the Hawks is that they tend to beat bad teams: two of their three wins this season are against doormats in Dallas and Sacramento. The other win was against Cleveland on the road but the Cavaliers were struggling at that point. Atlanta led by eight after the first quarter before blowing the doors off with a 40-19 bulge in the second and that was more than enough. The Hawks shot a blistering 63.3 percent from the floor and knocked down 16 of 32 three point attempts while dominating the boards by a 53-29 margin. Dennis Schroder led eight Hawks in double figures with 21 points plus eight assists in the win.
The Hawks are 18th in the league in scoring offense with 104.2 points per game this season. Atlanta is 23rd in the league in rebounding (41.8 rpg) and tied for 9th with 22.9 assists per contest. The Hawks are 24th in the NBA in scoring defense as they allow 108.4 points per game. Dennis Schroder leads the team with 19.9 points plus 6.8 assists per contest. Marco Belinelli contributes 12.1 points plus 2.5 assists, Taurean Prince kicks in 13 points plus 5.1 rebounds a game and John Collins adds 10.6 points with 7.3 rebounds per contest. Dewayne Dedmon, Ersan Ilyasova, Malcolm Delaney, Kent Bazemore (13.5 points, 1.93 steals) and Mike Muscala have to contribute on the offensive end. The Hawks are 15th in the league by shooting 45.5 percent from the floor as a team. Atlanta is tied for 6th in the league with 11.1 made three pointers a night and 2nd in three point shooting as the team hits 40.1 percent from beyond the arc.
- Celtics are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record
- Celtics are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. NBA Southeast
- Celtics are 20-5-1 ATS in their last 26 games following a straight up win
- Hawks are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points
Sure, Atlanta is coming off a big win but it’s important to note that it came at the expense of the lowly Kings. The Hawks aren’t going to shoot better than 63 percent or record 40 assists on 50 buckets against Boston. We just saw the Celtics strangle the life out of the Warriors, holding them to 88 points: this was a team averaging better than 119 points a game. Boston isn’t going to go 80-2, we all know that, but the fact remains that the Celtics are rolling right now. Atlanta isn’t the team to stop the run: give the points and take the Celtics here.