Tonight, the Boston Celtics are taking on the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena in Game 4 of their first round matchup. Atlanta came to play on Friday in front of their home crowd, avoiding a sweep and now one win away from tying the series 2-2. Boston, meanwhile, may be without their starting point guard as they try and wrap up this series early before a second-round date with the Philadelphia 76ers. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Celtics are 6-point favorites.
Point Spread: Boston Celtics -6
O/U: 231.5 points
ML: Celtics -250, Hawks +205
During media availability yesterday, Marcus Smart told reporters that he’s still feeling the effects of a hard fall in Game 3 where he landed on his back. While he said he’s “OK, relatively speaking,” he also said he was unsure about tonight. It will be interesting to see who Joe Mazzulla goes to in the starting lineup if Smart isn’t available.
On the Atlanta side, they are still injury free and should field the same rotation.
Celtics Projected Starters
PG: Derrick White
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams III
Hawks Projected Starters
PG: Trae Young
SG: Dejounte Murray
SF: De’Andre Hunter
PF: John Collins
C: Clint Capela
Boston Celtics Overview
The team showed up on offense, shooting 48.9% from the field and 43.8% from three, but defense was another story. The Hawks made some adjustments to their scheme that the Celtics couldn’t counter for most of the night, getting their guards moving downhill with consistency. This was a big reason why Trae Young had such a successful night, and why he finally got it going in the paint. If Marcus Smart is out, the Celtics need to find a way to keep both Young and Dejounte Murray out of rhythm and force stagnant possessions.
On top of that, the Hawks completely outworked the Celtics on the glass, finishing with a +19 rebound differential. A big part of Atlanta’s identity is crashing the offensive boards, and it’s expected they’ll rack up a decent volume of OREBS, especially with an offense that can be inefficient. What’s more troubling, though, is they shot 56% from the field and still racked up 11 of them. If the Hawks shoot lights out again, the Celtics have the capability to match, but if they’re giving Atlanta extra possessions on top of that, it’s going to be another tight game. Therefore, the rebounding battle becomes that much more important, and will surely be a point of emphasis for Joe Mazzulla and his staff.
Atlanta Hawks Overview
The Hawks got a great team effort on Friday, and most importantly, Playoff Trae Young showed up when they needed him the most. After really struggling to generate consistent offense through the first two games, he dropped an efficient 32 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds, and added a huge, ice cold three right in Al Horford’s face with less than two minutes to go. Game 3 was the first time him and Dejounte Murray had it going at the same time, and they combined for 57 of Atlanta’s 130 points. If that duo can mesh together on offense once again, it will become a lot tougher for the Celtics to keep the Hawks’ scoring attack down.
The Hawks bench also showed up in Game 3, providing a nice compliment to the starting lineup. The team got 44 bench points, by far the most they’ve had this series, and three of their four reserves (Bogdanovic, Johnson, Bey) ended in double figures. Those numbers may not be replicable, especially if the Celtics tighten up their defensive scheme, but the Hawks will once again need a big night from their bench if they want to tie the series up.
It’s not surprising the Hawks played hard on Friday and the Celtics could be in trouble again if Marcus Smart isn’t playing. Still, you would expect them to make the necessary defensive adjustments, and you probably wouldn’t expect the Hawks to shoot 56% from the field again. I think this one will be close, but I think the Celtics will get it done with or without Smart and all but end the series as it heads back to Boston.