Hawks @ Celtics
7:30 PM EST
Boston: 101.0 points per 100 possessions (24th)
Atlanta: 104.9 points per 100 possessions (16th)
Boston: 98.2 points allowed per 100 possessions (2nd)
Atlanta: 101.2 poitns allowed per 100 possessions (6th)
Probable Hawks starters: Jeff Teague (PG), Kirk Hinrich (SG), Joe Johnson (SF), Marvin Williams (PF), Jason Collins (C)
UPDATED Injury Report: Ray Allen is a continued question mark with his ankle injury. Josh Smith is OUT.
Thumbnail: At this time on Tuesday, Celtics fans were a stressful bunch, awaiting a loss that would’ve been a major nail in the Big 3 era’s coffin. Their starting backcourt was Avery Bradley and Mickael Pietrus, and by the third quarter Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic were a regular part of the rotation.
Here we are, 72 hours later, back in Boston with the an even series, a (relatively) full roster, and uncontrollable momentum on the Celtics’ side. My, how the tables have turned! Josh Smith, undoubtedly the best player Atlanta’s had in this series, will either miss a game (or two), or be severely limited with a knee injury for the rest of the series. (Side note: Every player in the league who spends significant time with Kevin Garnett as their primary defender needs to be 100% healthy in order to have an impact, especially in the playoffs.)
Hawks fans will point to Boston’s Game 2 performance as a hopeful sign that unlikely events can happen in any playoff series. But, fortunately for the Celtics, the Hawks do not have an All-World offensive atom bomb like Paul Pierce in tow. Atlanta has nobody on their roster who’s shown an ability to step up and deliver in career-defining moments like this one would be. Joe Johnson is a scorer with limitless ability, but on the road, facing the league’s best defense on a single-minded mission, the chance of him leading his team to victory are all but zero. The other option here is Jeff Teague, and with Bradley proving he’s more than up for the assignment, Atlanta will find themselves facing an uphill climb with no horses to ride.
UPDATED Prediction: Celtics 92, Hawks 78