The Celtics and Hawks are meeting for the 2nd of 4 meetings between those two games this season. The Hawks won the first game on November 17 in Atlanta 110-99. The Celtics were without Robert Williams and Jaylen Brown in that game, while the Hawks were without De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu. These two teams will meet again on February 13 and March 1, with both games taking place in Boston. For the Hawks, November’s win was their third in a seven-game winning streak.
Atlanta won the series 2-1 last season. The Celtics are 238-145 all-time against the Hawks and 111-101 when playing in Atlanta. The Celtics had two days off after their last game on Tuesday, while the Hawks last played on Wednesday. This is the 2nd of 5 home games for the Hawks. They won the first game against the Hornets and have the Lakers, Raptors and Suns come out to complete the home stand. The Celtics are away in the first of their back-to-back games and will travel to New Orleans after that game. You will then have 2 straight games at home. The Celtics are 4-5 and 2-2 on the first night of back-to-back games when the first game is played.
The Celtics are 8th in the East and have won their last 2 games. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 9-14 on the road. They are 17-13 against Eastern Conference teams. They are 2 games behind 7th place Charlotte and 4 games behind 6th place Philadelphia. They are a half game ahead of the Raptors in 9th place and 1.5 games ahead of the Wizards in 10th place and 2 games ahead of 11th place Knicks.
the Atlanta Hawks are 12th in the East and have won their last 5 games after losing the previous 5 games. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 12-11 at home. They are 13-15 against other Eastern Conference teams. They are tied with the Knicks in 11th place, who hold the tie breaker between them. They are a half game behind 10th place Washington and 8 games ahead of 13th place Indiana.
The Celtics are mostly healthy with only their two newest players yet to play without the team. Bol Bol is out after foot surgery but is with the team trying to soak up as much as possible about the way the Celtics play and do things. PJ Dozier is out after a cruciate ligament rupture in November and is rehab from the team. For the Hawks, De’Andre Bembry (back) and Danilo Gallinari (eye) are both questionable.
Probable Celtics starters
Bol Bol (foot) out
PJ Dozier (knee) out
I am Udoka
Likely Hawks starters
Kevin Knox II
De’Andre Hunter (back) questionable
Danilo Gallinari (eye) questionable
Marcus Smart vs. Trae Young
Young is fifth in the league with 27.7 points per game. He also averages 4.0 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. He shoots 45.5% from the field and 38.0% from beyond the arc. He had 18 points and 11 assists in his first game against the Celtics. Marcus Smart will have his hands full slowing him down and stopping him from having a big game.
Al Horford vs. John Collins
Collins is rumored to be commercially available for the Hawks and the Celtics have been rumored to be interested. He averages 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 blocks. He shoots 53.7% from the field and 42.6% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need to stay with him both inside and on the touchline as he poses a threat of scoring from either. He had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the November game between those two teams.
Robert Williams III vs. Clint Capela
Capela averages 11.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. He shoots 57.0% from the field and hasn’t made three points this season. The Celtics were without Robert Williams in the first game and really missed his inside presence.
key to the game
defense – Defense is always a key to winning games. Defense is especially important for the Celtics in this game, as the Hawks are a good scoring team, averaging 111.4 points per game, which puts them seventh in the league. The Celtics are 19th averaging 108.0 points per game. The Celtics need to play strong team defense if they want to win. The Celtics have a 106.4 Defense Rating, which is ranked 4th, while the Hawks have a 113.2 Defense Rating, which is 27th. The Celtics need to prioritize defense in this game and they need to play that strong defense for 48 minutes and not let up.
Rebound – In addition to defense, rebound is a key to victory. A lot of rebounding is effort and will, and when the Celtics put the extra effort on the boards, it usually carries over into the rest of their game. The Hawks average 44.4 rebounds per game while the Celtics average 46.2 rebounds per game. The Celtics have to be aggressive after every rebound. They can’t afford to give the Hawks additional possessions by allowing them to rack up more rebounds.
banking game – The Hawks have players coming off the bench who can be very dangerous if not defended well. In their last game, a win against the Kings, the Hawks had 70 points on the bench. You have players like Bogdanovic, Okongwu, Lou Williams and Gallinari who are all capable of putting up big numbers if not defended well. The Celtics players coming off the bench need to improve their game at both ends of the court.
be aggressive – The Celtics have to be the team that plays harder and wants that win more. They have to be aggressive when jumping for loose balls, going to the basket, stopping on the defensive end and chasing rebounds. In the past, the Celtics have too often allowed teams to play with more energy and effort and as a result they lose games they should be winning. The Celtics need to play with the energy and aggressiveness that we’ve seen in their last two games.
Traveling – The Celtics play away in the first back-to-back game. The Celtics need to focus on playing their game and not be distracted by playing on the road, traveling and the hostile crowd. The Hawks have played well and are at home and the Celtics have to work even harder to get a win there.
Officiate – Officiating is always an X-factor. Each Crew describes the game a little differently, with some calling it tight and others letting them play. Some umpires just make head-scratching calls while others try hard to get them right. The Celtics need to adjust to how the game is called and focus on playing the game and not the bad calls or no calls.