Atlanta at Boston
8:00 P.M. ET
Boston: 100.4 points/100 possessions (21st)
Atlanta: 102.6 points/100 possessions (15th)
Boston: 99.3 points allowed/100 possessions (5th)
Atlanta: 101.3 points allowed/100 possessions (9th)
Probable Hawks Starters:
Jeff Teague (PG), DeShawn Stevenson (SG), Kyle Korver (SF), Josh Smith (PF), and Al Horford (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: HawksHoop
Thumbnail: The last time the Celtics faced the Hawks, Kyle Korver tied the NBA record by making eight 3-pointers. After missing his only shot attempt in the first half of that January 25 game, he went on to make eight of his 10 shots from deep in the third and fourth quarters. While the Celtics held Korver scoreless in each of the overtimes, he still was a large reason for the Hawks’ comeback in that game. His 27 points scored in that strong performance at Philips Arena were the most points he has ever scored against the Celtics in 29 tries.
Although Korver can be a defensive liability for Atlanta, he will still force Boston to guard him closely. The Celtics should be up to the test because they have vastly improved their defense over the last few months. Since Rajon Rondo tore his ACL in that game against the Hawks, the Celtics have vaulted their defensive efficiency from a top 10 one to fifth-best in the league this season. In addition, Boston’s 3-point defense has moved from being in the middle of the pack to third-best in the NBA.
As evidenced by their victory a couple days ago, the Celtics are succeeding in 2012-13 when performing well in the rebounding battle. Since Rondo’s injury, Paul Pierce has picked up the slack on the boards, grabbing 8.3 per game. While this is just a 17-game stretch, keep in mind his career-best rebounding season was 7.3 per game. The Pacers, a top-tier rebounding team, only outrebounded the Celtics by three on Wednesday. After the Celtics won that contest, they moved to 22-12 this season when either winning the rebound battle or losing it by five or fewer.
Prediction: Boston rebounds well and then ties Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings. With the win, the Celtics are victories in their ninth consecutive home game, becoming the team’s longest regular season home winning streak in the past four seasons.
Celtics 97, Hawks 91
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