Hawks @ Celtics
8:00 PM EST
Playoff Offensive Efficiency
Atlanta: 89.3 points per 100 possessions (16th)
Boston: 94.7 points per 100 possessions (11th)
Playoff Defensive Efficiency
Atlanta: 94.7 points allowed per 100 possessions (5th)
Boston: 89.3 points allowed per 100 possessions (1st)
Probable Hawks Starters: Jeff Teague (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Marvin Williams (SF), Josh Smith (PF), Al Horford (C).
View From The Opposing Bench: Hoopinion
Thumbnail: Technically speaking, this is a must-win situation for just one team: the Atlanta Hawks. But for all intents and purposes, it’s probably fair to say that tonight’s winner will be moving on to the second round. The Al Horford factor is one that took Boston by surprise Tuesday night, and if you’re a Celtics fan the good news here is that a repeat performance from Atlanta’s center is highly unlikely. He played 41 minutes of Herculean basketball—with the home crowd boosting his adrenaline and the Celtics deploying 19 minutes of Ryan Hollins—in a win or “recklessly party the week away with your teammates” situation.
Overall, Hawks coach Larry Drew let four of his starters go for at least 41 minutes the other night. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that’s what he resorted to. In the playoffs, the only thing you can focus on is the game staring you in the face, and that’s exactly what Atlanta did. The result is them crawling into Boston against a similarly banged up Celtics team that played just one guy (Rajon Rondo) over 38 minutes in Game 5.
Tonight they battle in what should be an evenly matched, close encounter. Both coaches know each other’s sets by now, and now that Horford’s in play, everybody’s cards are turned on the table. Joe Johnson will primarily be playing shooting guard and the Hawks have chosen to go bigger than the series’ first four games, which creates an important question moving forward as to how Doc Rivers can get Avery Bradley and Rondo on the court at the same time. Do the Celtics sprinkle in some 2-3 zone? Do they throw quick doubles every time Johnson backs himself into the post? This particular matchup plays itself into Atlanta’s favor, but it shouldn’t be large enough to win them an entire game. Paul Pierce’s sprained MCL, Ray Allen’s ankle, and Rondo’s psyche should be the main talking points and ultimate factors that dictate whether we rest up and look forward to Chicago/Philadelphia, or get on one last flight to Atlanta, with the stench of severe disappointment blowing in the wind.
Prediction: Celtics 85, Hawks 83