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It’s a battle of Eastern Conference teams in different situations as we roll into the final month of the season up in Beantown. The Atlanta Hawks are on the road to face the Boston Celtics in a Saturday matinee contest. Atlanta routed Memphis 132-111 at home in their last contest Wednesday night. Boston dumped Sacramento 126-120 at home Thursday night in their previous game. The Celtics own a 232-143 advantage in the all-time regular season series and have taken all three meetings this season, including a 113-105 road triumph in the last matchup on January 19.
Atlanta Hawks Seek to Salvage Series Finale
Atlanta won their second straight game as they rolled over Memphis with another solid offensive performance. The Hawks entered Friday 12th in the Eastern Conference, nine games behind the Heat for the final playoff spot. Atlanta led by five after the opening quarter and held a four-point edge with 2:19 to play in the first half before going on the run that gave them control of the contest. The Hawks outscored the Grizzlies 21-4 over a 5:12 span covering the end of the second and the start of the third quarters to go up 83-62. Atlanta wasn’t seriously threatened the rest of the way. The Hawks shot 50.5 percent from the field, including 17 of 45 from three-point range, and controlled the glass 51-35. John Collins led Atlanta with 27 points and 12 rebounds in the contest.
🎥 @jcollins20_ did some work.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 14, 2019
The Hawks are 13th in the league in scoring offense with 112.7 points per game this season. Atlanta is 12th in the league in rebounding (45.9 rpg) and 9th with 25.7 assists per contest. The Hawks are 30th in the NBA in scoring defense as they allow 118.6 points per game. The Hawks are 21st in the league by shooting 45.2 percent from the floor as a team. Atlanta is tied for 4th in the league with 12.7 made three pointers a night and tied for 14th in three-point shooting as the team hits 35.3 percent from beyond the arc. The Hawks are 5-5 in their last 10 games and the stats were a mixed bag. Atlanta is 2nd in scoring with 123.5 points per game but rank 29th in scoring defense by allowing 120.6 points a night. The Hawks are 19th in opposing field goal percentage (45.9 percent) and 26th in threes allowed per game (13.5) in the last 10 games. Offensively, Trae Young is carrying the load, averaging 25.3 points plus 8.8 assists per game while shooting 42.2 percent from beyond the arc. He knocked down 2.7 threes per game in that stretch. John Collins continues to be a force in the low post as he contributes 24.9 points and 12.1 boards a game: he missed three games with illness before returning against San Antonio. Miles Plumlee is questionable while Omari Spellman is out for the Hawks. The injury woes led to the Hawks signing Tyler Zeller to a 10-day contract.
Boston Celtics Look to Stay Hot
Boston won for the fourth time in five games as they managed to rally to hold off the Kings in their return home after a four-game road trip. The Celtics entered Friday fifth in the Eastern Conference, 9.5 games behind the Bucks for the top spot: they trailed Toronto by seven games in the Atlantic Division race. Boston trailed by 13 after the opening quarter and by as many as 17 in the opening half before getting back on track. The Celtics cut the deficit to six at the half, led by two after three quarters and rode a 14-2 fourth-quarter run to take a 118-105 lead with 2:51 to play: they held on from there. Boston shot 50.5 percent from the field, including nine of 28 from three-point range, and won the battle of the boards 52-47. The Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving, who finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in the win.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 15, 2019
The Celtics are 14th in the league in scoring offense with 112.5 points per game. Boston is 21st in the league in rebounding with 44.6 boards per game and stand 6th with 26.4 assists per contest. Boston is elite on the defensive end: they are 7th in scoring defense, allowing 107.3 points per game. The Celtics are 12th in field goal percentage as they shoot 46.6 percent from the floor as a team. Boston is tied for 4th in three pointers per game with 12.7 per night while the team is 6th in three-point percentage as they hit 36.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games as they are bouncing back after a slow start out of the All-Star break. Boston is 17th in scoring offense (111.4 points) and tied for 16th in scoring defense (112.3 points) in that stretch. Kyrie Irving leads the team in scoring during that run with 23.3 points plus 8.3 assists while shooting 50.6 percent from the floor. Jayson Tatum (13.4 points, 4.7 boards, 45.7 percent shooting) and Al Horford (13.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 57 percent shooting) are solid contributors but Boston’s perimeter shooting has tailed off of late. In the last 10 games, the Celtics are tied for 20th with 10.3 three-pointers a game but they are just 27th in three-point shooting at 32.3 percent.
- Celtics are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400
- Celtics are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400
- Hawks are 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points
- Hawks are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 vs. Atlantic Division teams
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Both teams have had some momentum of late but the fact remains that only one of these teams is in the mix for a playoff spot. Atlanta has won two straight but they are still nine games behind the final playoff spot with 13 games to go. The Celtics are solidly in the middle of the playoff picture and are trying to gain ground for home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Boston has looked good of late with four wins in their last five games and they are at home here, where they are 25-10 on the season. Atlanta is 11-24 on the road and Boston’s experience is too much for the young Hawks and their porous defense to handle.
Prediction: Boston Celtics -10.5
Full-Game Total Pick
We are looking at two teams with different defensive philosophies this season. Atlanta has been awful defensively all season, ranking dead last in the league in scoring defense. They haven’t been much better of late, ranking next to last in the last 10 games. Boston is solid defensively and their offense is kicking back into gear as well. The Celtics are getting things going at the right time as they ramp up for the final month of the regular season. Will Boston maintain their recent momentum and sweep the season series from the Hawks?
The over is 6-1 in the Hawks’ last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, 6-1-1 in their last 8 vs. a team with a winning straight up record, 4-1 in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference foes and 8-2 in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600. Boston has seen the over go 5-2 in their last 7 vs. a team with a losing straight up record. The over is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings in Boston and 6-2-1 in their last nine meetings overall. Given Atlanta’s porous defense, this one likely ends up over the number.
Prediction: Over 231.5