UPDATE #2: The Hawks will reportedly use big man Elton Brand as the “inactive” player when the team takes the court against the Celtics (per the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore). Teague-Korver-Carroll-Millsap-Horford will be the starting 5 for tonight’s game.
UPDATE: The Celtics have announced that they will be without rookie big man Kelly Olynyk for tonight’s game. This will further impact the already undermanned Boston front-line, and make things a bit lighter for Horford, Millsap, and company.
Date: November 23, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV Channel: SportSouth (Local in Atlanta), NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
After back-to-back wins over the Detroit Pistons, the Hawks return home for a Saturday night showdown with the Boston Celtics.
Boston enters the game with a paltry, 4-10 record on the season, and that is sadly indicative of their lack of talent. Rajon Rondo is still sidelined as a result of the knee injury he suffered last season, and with that absence, Boston’s “best” player is likely forward Jeff Green. That’s a sad state of affairs for the proud franchise, and there are even rumors of them getting into the “tanking” act in an effort to land one of the high-profile college freshmen.
The Celtics are near the bottom of the league offensively (26th in offensive efficiency), and that plays right into the hands of the Hawks. Mike Budenholzer’s new-look offense has launched Atlanta into the conversation with the top offenses in the league, and Boston doesn’t really have the firepower to keep up if the shots are falling for the Hawks.
As far as match-ups are concerned, the one to watch is likely Jeff Teague versus Avery Bradley. Teague’s exploits early in the season have been well-documented, but Bradley (despite his offensive woes) is one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA at the point guard position. It will be interesting to see how Brad Stevens (the new Celtics head coach) handles the vaunted Teague/Horford pick and roll, especially with rookie Kelly Olynyk floundering defensively at this early stage, and if Bradley can’t contain Teague, it’ll be a long night for Boston.
Up front, the aforementioned Horford and Paul Millsap should have free reign against Jared Sullinger, Olynyk, and Boston’s rotation of big men. The Celtics have ranked near the bottom of the league in rebound rate all season, and while that’s not a strength for Atlanta, this isn’t a game where the Hawks have to worry about getting beaten up on the glass.
The Kyle Korver streak watch is still very much in effect here, and he’ll be going for 87 consecutive games with a 3-pointer. On paper, it doesn’t seem like a difficult place for Korver to extend the streak, but the Celtics have ranked in the top-5 all season in 3-point defense at just over 32% allowed, and if the first one or two attempts don’t fall for Kyle, people will quickly move to their edge of their seats.
Las Vegas has opened this line with the Hawks as a 8.5-point favorite, and that seems about right to me. The Hawks are better than this edition of the Celtics in virtually every aspect, and barring a massive letdown as a result of the back-to-back (with travel), Atlanta is in great position to grab another victory to improve their standing in the East.
This Hawks/Celtics battle may not have the same cache that face-offs with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and company always carried, but with the amount of Celtics supporters that are sure to be in Philips Arena (unfortunately), this one could get heated in a hurry.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and a full recap to follow.