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)
This is the throat stomp game. If the Celtics can come up with a win tonight, then it’ll be nearly impossible for the Hawks to come back and take this series. And they shouldn’t, really. The Hawks have been feeling the effects of the injury bug all series long. Yet, even without Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, and Josh Smith and Tracy McGrady for stretches, the Hawks have been able to hang with the C’s. There’s no logical explanation for this given the forced reconstruction of their lineups. In Friday night’s overtime loss, Larry Drew played Erick Dampier’s corpse 22 minutes. 22 minutes for “Damp Damp, what it do?” and the Celtics still didn’t completely dominate. Despite the close games, the general feeling is that the Hawks are not going to get back in this series but hey, it’s why they play the games.
Tonight, Smith is a game-time decision and Drew thinks he’ll play even if he’s only 60-70%. Fortunately for the C’s, a 60-70% Smith may be worse than no Smith at all. If Smith isn’t exploding by people and hitting the glass hard, he’s probably taking a lot of long contested jumpers- which is exactly what the C’s want him to do.
While the Hawks try to rally together and not let injuries defeat them, the Celtics are getting better and healthier. Avery Bradley went down with a “shoulder stinger” in Game 3 but is a go tonight and will be in the starting lineup. Ray Allen is also available and will be expected to play big minutes. With everything going in the Celtics’ favor, it’s just really hard to see how the Hawks can snag a win tonight on the road.
Celtics 95, Hawks 87