The Boston Celtics are back home with a chance to close out the series against the Atlanta Hawks tonight. Boston got a better defensive effort on Sunday and kept Atlanta quiet on the offensive glass en route to a decisive Game 4 victory. Atlanta, meanwhile, will be without Dejounte Murray due to an incident at the end of Sunday’s loss where he intentionally bumped a referee. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Celtics are 13-point favorites.
Hawks’ Dejounte Murray has been suspended for Game 5, per NBA
— Josue Pavón (@Joe_Sway) April 24, 2023
Point Spread: Boston Celtics -13
O/U: 230.5 points
ML: Celtics -800 Hawks +560
Celtics to win, Tatum 4+ assists, Tatum 3+ made threes, White 2+ made threes, Tatum and Brown 25+ points each
There are no new injuries to report from either team. Danilo Gallinari (ACL), who hasn’t suited up for a game this year, will not be active for the Celtics.
Celtics Projected Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford
Hawks Projected Starters
PG: Trae Young
SG: De’Andre Hunter
SF: Saddiq Bey
PF: John Collins
C: Clint Capela
Boston Celtics Overview
Boston got big performances up and down their lineup, but perhaps no one had a bigger impact than Robert Williams III. After finishing with just 19 total minutes in Game 3, Joe Mazzulla gave Rob big minutes, and it paid dividends. He posted 13 points, 2 blocks, 2 steals, and 3 assists, but most importantly, he had 15 rebounds. When paired with Al Horford, Rob completely neutralized the Hawks ability to get second possessions, and as a team, they finished with just 11 offensive rebounds despite shooting less than 40% from the field. Expect Mazzulla to go back to the double big lineup once again, and expect Williams III to have another monster night.
The Celtics also got a strong second half from Jaylen Brown on Sunday, notable because about midway through the game, he ditched both his mask and his hand wrap. 22 of Brown’s 31 points came in the second half, plus, he finished the game with just 2 turnovers, his lowest amount this series. Following Game 4, Brown said that the protective wrap on his hand would ease some of the pain when he caught the ball, but it also took away his feel, leading to awkward jump shots and a sloppier handle. It will be interesting to see if Brown goes back to the wrap tonight or if he pushes through the pain again tonight.
Atlanta Hawks Overview
The tall task of winning a game in Boston has become even tougher without Dejounte Murray. There was some debate over whether or not the league would hand out a suspension, but the news broke yesterday in the late afternoon, and the Hawks now will not have their best player. Though Murray’s performance on Sunday wasn’t as impactful, he has been the only Hawk to show up throughout the whole series, averaging 25.3 points, 5.8 assists, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. His ability to consistently hit his midrange jumper and heat up from three has kept his team in each game, and without him, they’ll need De’Andre Hunter to have a repeat performance and someone else on their bench to step up if they want to have a chance tonight.
Maybe the only good news for the Hawks is that Trae Young found his game once again. Over the two games in Atlanta, Young averaged 33.5 points, 12 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game, really making his presence felt as both a facilitator and scorer. His 4th quarter on Sunday in particular was remarkable, dropping 21 of his 35 points in the final frame. Defense will always be his problem, and there’s really nowhere to hide him against this Celtics team, but he’s starting to get it going on offense. With everything pointing in Boston’s favor, Atlanta needs their star PG to have the playoff performance of a lifetime in Murray’s absence.
There’s really no doubt in my mind about how this one will go. The only way Boston loses this game is if they start coasting from the opening tip, but even if Atlanta plays hard out of the gate, their terrible defense will always allow Boston to go on big runs. On top of that, I don’t know if Atlanta can counteract the double big lineup. Their ability to crash the glass is central to their offense, but if Rob is playing like he was on Sunday, the Hawks should be sealed off. I think the Celtics will win this one and will enjoy a few days off before battling the 76ers in the second round.