Boston: 100.0 points/100 possessions (20th)
Atlanta: 102.4 points/100 possessions (13th)
Boston: 101.2 points allowed/100 possessions (11th)
Atlanta: 99.9 points allowed/100 possessions (6th)
Probable Hawks Starters:
Jeff Teague (PG), Louis Williams (SG), Kyle Korver (SF), Josh Smith (PF), and Al Harford (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Hawks Hoop <http://hawkshoop.com/>
**The following post is written by Adam Lowenstein
This 15-17 Boston Celtics record through their first 32 regular season games sure looks familiar. Well, it is the exact same way they began the 2011-12 season before reeling off 24 wins in their final 34 games. We cannot assume that this Celtics team will magically perform that well in this 82-game season, but they showed signs of life on Friday evening against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden.
On Friday, Doc Rivers decided to bring back his most successful 2011-12 starting lineup – Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett – and he reaped the benefits. This five-man unit was one of the top ten plus/minus ones in the league last season, and it has the chance to be one of the Celtics better lineups in 2012-13, too. However, we did see one change that could make this group even stronger: Jared Sullinger at the power forward position.
While the Celtics were playing terribly on their two recent road trips, one of the very few bright spots for this team was Sullinger. Then against the Pacers, he shined again. Sullinger was actually the one who stole Bass’s minutes because of Brandon getting into early foul trouble, which Cedric Maxwell accurately predicted. Sullinger stepped in and had his second double-digit rebound game of the season. In fact, when he grabs at least six defensive rebounds, the Celtics are now 7-1. Now as the second-best plus/minus player on the team, Sullinger will need to continue to make an impact as the Celtics head to Atlanta to face a team that is surprisingly only two games out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
While the Hawks lost on Friday night to the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta feels confident that they can win on the second night of the back-to-back. Impressively, the Hawks are 7-1 when playing on zero days of rest this season while the Celtics are only 4-5. In addition, the Hawks have succeeded when Jeff Teague has scored well. When he puts up more than 10 points, they have a 16-5 record this season. When he does not, the Hawks are 4-6. It will be interesting to see how this Celtics defense stacks up against Teague as well as the Hawks new starters for 2012-13, Louis Williams and Kyle Korver.
The Hawks will hit more shots than the Pacers did, but the Celtics will continue their strong defense to pull off the upset in Atlanta. Remember, the Hawks have had the fourth-easiest schedule in the NBA this season. Another benefit for the Celtics is a hobbled Josh Smith, who aggravated his right hip flexor against the Pistons and played only 12 second-half minutes on Friday.
Celtics 95, Hawks 94