The Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks will battle once again in game 2 tonight at TD Garden. Boston thrashed the Hawks in the first half, going up by 30 and cruising to a game 1 victory despite Atlanta’s inspired second-half play. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Celtics are 10.5-point favorites.
Point Spread: Boston Celtics -10.5
ML: Celtics -510, Hawks +390
Aside from Danilo Gallinari (ACL), who’s missed the entire season for Boston, everyone on both sides is healthy for tonight’s tilt. Jaylen Brown said postgame that the stitches on his hand “split open” during the game on Saturday, but he reiterated he felt fine and will be good to go tonight.
Jaylen Brown looking comfortable shooting at practice today. He did not receive new stitches on his hand.
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) April 17, 2023
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: Dejounte Murray
SF: De’Andre Hunter
PF: John Collins
C: Clint Capela
Boston Keys To Victory
Boston looked leagues better than Atlanta on Saturday, and their blueprint on offense should remain the exact same. They’ll take their high volume of threes no matter who the opponent is, plus, they can absolutely impose their will on the Hawks’ small backcourt. Everyone knows Trae Young is a defensive liability, and Boston took full advantage of that, shooting 7/10 when he was the primary defender. Atlanta attempted to mask this in the offseason by acquiring Dejounte Murray, but Boston took him to task as well by getting favorable switches and using their length against him down low. If threes aren’t falling like they were in game 1, Boston can always go back to the well and score with ease, exposing the really bad matchups Atlanta needs to contend with.
The biggest concern for tonight will definitely be Jaylen Brown, who talked about how his hand injury forced him to adjust his grip on the ball and how it started to feel worse throughout the game. The good news is that while his ball handling was questionable — leading to a game-high six turnovers — his production otherwise was not. Brown dropped 29 points and 12 rebounds, showing no restraint shooting the ball and getting physical on the glass. 13 of his 29 also came in the second half, at a critical juncture where his injury was acting up and the Hawks cut the Boston lead in half. Brown’s comfort throughout the Playoffs will be something to monitor, but for now, expect him to be just as impactful tonight.
Hawks Keys To Victory
The Hawks continued their perfectly balanced season by dropping game 1, now sitting 1-1 in the postseason after a 41-41 season. There were some positives to take away from Saturday despite the loss. For one, their second half comeback, which included a 31-12 run to cut the lead to 13, largely came without the help of Trae Young. Atlanta’s best scorer really struggled all day, shooting under 30% from the field and finishing at 16 points. His assist numbers were also a tick under his season average of 10.2 per game. Boston was in his face and gave him few clean looks all game long, and it will be up to Quin Snyder to figure out how to get him some space and minimize his isolation pull-up shot attempts.
Another area where the Hawks also have to feel they can improve is the offensive glass, the biggest reason they powered past the Miami Heat in the Play-In. On both ends, Atlanta secured 13 less boards than the Celtics, and barely outrebounded them on the offensive end. This is in stark contrast to the Miami game, where they resoundingly won the offensive rebound battle 22-6. The Hawks ability to crash the glass with full force is clearly a point-of-emphasis for Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics, and it will be tough to replicate that Play-In performance, but Atlanta played their best in game 1 when they got to those loose balls — five of their six second-half OREBS came in the fourth quarter. If the Hawks’ wings and bigs can make their presence felt, they can make game 2 a whole lot more interesting than game 1.
As Jaylen Brown said following game 1, “Each game is its own story.” The showings from both teams on Saturday don’t guarantee anything tonight, and the Hawks certainly have the capability to bounce back. Still, the Celtics looked too dominant against Atlanta’s defense, and even when they let up, they were easily able to course-correct later on in the 4th. With an improved game from Trae Young, this one should be tighter throughout the night, but I still think Boston will take a commanding 2-0 series lead into Atlanta this weekend.
Boston Celtics 116, Atlanta Hawks 107