By: Emily Musella
Celtics clash with Hawks again tonight
The Boston Celtics face the Atlanta Hawks tonight after playing them two days ago at the Garden. After dropping to the Hawks (122-114) on Wednesday night, the Boston team will look to defend their home court tonight. Can the Celtics claw out a W, or will the Hawks once again beat them at their own game? You know what time it is, the breakdown shakedown!
Odds: BOS -4.5, ATL +4.5
Tip-off: February 19th, 7:30 p.m. EST, TD Garden
The Hawks secured their most recent W against the Celtics with players like Trae Young, Clint Capela, and John Collins leading the way. Young racked up 40, Capela notched 24, and Collins posted 20 points. The Hawks were a complete team Wednesday night and will need to be that same type of team once again tonight if they want to win.
Offensively, the Atlanta team sits at 12-16 on the season and is currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. If players like Trae Young and Clint Capela can continue to carry their Hawks squad they may have a chance at moving up in the top 5 in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks rank 15th in total score, 22nd in FG success, and 23rd in 3pt success. Despite these rather disappointing rankings, the Hawks have managed to take down teams like the Celtics, Nets, 76ers, and Clippers this season.
Defensively, the Hawks team will once again face the Jay’s in Boston with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown dropping a combined 57 points and 13 assists in their last matchup. Kemba Walker was not on the court Wednesday night due to a continued knee rehab policy in place this season for back-to-back games. Therefore, a new element on the floor will be available and ready to drop dimes. The Atlanta team will need to bottle up Walker and a returning Daniel Theis tonight as well. Shutting down the perimeter has been gold for the Hawks D as they are 2nd best in the league from the 3pt range shots taken from their opposition. Can the Hawks hold up that ranking tonight?
The Celtics will look to avenge their Wednesday night loss against the Hawks. With returning players such as Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis, Head Coach Brad Stevens must be feeling pretty optimistic that his team can push past the .500 mark tonight. The Boston team is currently 5th in the Eastern Conference, right behind the Indiana Pacers, but also right above the Toronto Raptors who are heavy on their heels to move up.
Offensively, the Jay’s will need a repeat night and Walker will need to go back to his authentic playstyle for the C’s to have a chance to break the .500 mark tonight. Two other players that I expect to step up as well are Daniel Theis as he returns tonight and Payton Pritchard. Pritchard has been dynamite this season with his speed, quick decision making, and his ability to drain 3’s when his team needs them. Meanwhile, Theis is known to obliterate opposing teams with his dunks and mid-range shots.
Defensively, the Celtics will need to contain the damage done by Trae Young as the young star dropped 40 points on the defense Wednesday night. As for defending the 3pt shots, the C’s surrendered only 8 on the night. The biggest issue for the defense was allowing the Hawks to drive to the glass with ease. 57.1% of the FG shots were made by the Hawks and that will not fly at the Garden again tonight. I would expect Theis and Robert Williams to prevent that number from repeating again since they are notorious for attacking the rim and blocking shots this season. Overall, the Celtics are still ranked 6th in total points given up, an average of 109 per game. But they will need to step it up tonight and prove they are still a contender for the postseason run.
ANALYSIS AND BEST BETS
This matchup has the potential to be a good one, as we saw on Wednesday night both teams know how to keep it close and let their stars put in the work. With returning players on the Celtics side like Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis, I believe that will make the C’s a force to be reckoned with. Therefore, my first best bet is for this game to hit OVER 226 points. The Celtics average nearly 111 points per game and the Hawks average 113 points per game. Though it is a close number to bet on, I think both these teams will come out firing in the first half to rack up enough points to carry over 226 by the end of the game. My second best bet is for Kemba Walker to hit OVER 17.5 points tonight. Walker averages 16.4 points per game this season and in his last two outings he has put up 17 points and 25 points. Walker will be primed for a big night!