Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#507 Atlanta Hawks 225 vs.
#508 Boston Celtics -4
Friday, February 19, 2021 at 7:35pm EST
TD Garden, Boston
Written by Jordy

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The Atlanta Hawks hope to stay on the winning track in Friday’s second half of their ensuing doubleheader with the Boston Celtics. Trae Young’s 40 points on Wednesday night served as a lullaby for the slumping Celtics in a 122-114 victory. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Hawks, while adding a third loss in four games for Boston.

Young steals the show

The Celtics had Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum both on the floor against the Hawks on Wednesday, but Trae Young was the main attraction. He dropped 40 buckets to help lift his team to a 122-114 victory on the road. It was a much-needed win to erase a four-game losing streak for the Hawks and keep them in the hunt for a potential home stretch playoff run.

No, it isn’t quite over for them yet.

The Hawks need to continue to be aggressive attacking the rim and keep the Celtics in foul trouble. Both Brown and Payton Pritchard were working with five fouls on a night when the Hawks had 31 free throw attempts. One good way to keep a good defensive team on its heels is to make them think about playing defense. A few whistles being called can loosen the Celtics up really quickly.

But none of that matters if shots aren’t falling.

Considering how poorly the Hawks have played defensively this season, they have to be lights out on offense to win games like this on the road. John Collins and Clint Capela both contributed 20-plus points in the victory over the Celtics. Finding the same success is completely dependent on other key players showing up, especially with De’Andre Hunter still out with a knee injury. Even an inconsistent offensive team like the Celtics can pile points on the board against a Hawks team allowing 113.8 points per game on the road.

Boston, where’s the defense?

The Celtics got absolutely torched in the paint.

Atlanta capitalized on high-percentage shooting inside of the arc for 57.1 percent on Wednesday night. It’s hard to win any game when allowing that sort of successful shooting to an opponent. Granted, the Celtics are nowhere near the savvy defensive team they were last season, but they’re still hanging around by ranking sixth in scoring and 11th overall.

However, they were clearly bad against the Hawks.

It isn’t helping matters that Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis have both been out. Tatum and Brown also aren’t getting enough help from their bench. We can point to many reasons why the Celtics couldn’t get the job done, but at the end of the day, it all comes back down to defense. If they can’t do a better job of getting stops, they’ll be on the losing end for a second straight game on Friday.

The Hawks have been one of the more frustrating teams in the league considering their otherworldly offensive potential. They could run that sort of performance back in a heartbeat if the Celtics aren’t ready to defend against it. Matching it is also a possibility on the offensive end of the floor.

But who will be the third wheel if both Walker (knee) and Marcus Smart (calf) remain out?

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Trae Young and the Hawks will fall back down to Earth offensively in Friday’s rematch. The Celtics clearly struggled in the first meeting, but they are also allowing an average 107.8 points per game at home this season. They aren’t going to let the Hawks stomp back into the TD Garden and walk all over them in back-to-back outings.

The Hawks have been too hit-or-miss to trust them to have that sort of sustained success on the road. They can’t defend on defense, and they are only averaging 45.2 percent shooting. Boston will do a better job of clamping down defensively in the paint and forcing the Hawks into tougher, lower-percentage shots.

Let’s not forget the Hawks were on a four-game losing streak before they met the Celtics on Wednesday, including a game where they gave up 123 points to the NBA’s worst scoring offense, the New York Knicks. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will steal back the Celtics moment in this one. I’m laying the points and taking Boston.

Prediction: Boston Celtics (-2.5)

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You’d have to go all the way back to the Celtics’ second game of the season against the Brooklyn Nets to find another time when a team scored 120-plus points on them in their home building. Shooting 57.1 percent from the floor isn’t a sustainable stat line for the Hawks. They’ll run into a tougher defensive test in the rematch, and shots won’t fall nearly as frequently. Before Wednesday’s game against the Hawks, the Celtics held a legitimate top-10 scoring offense in the Denver Nuggets to only 99 points. There will be no repeat performance for the Hawks. Give me the under in this one.

Prediction: Under (226)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.