The Atlanta Hawks head into Boston with a two-game winning streak. However they are just 24-45 on the season and 13-21 on the road. The Celtics are in the middle of the playoff race at 41-27, fifth in the Eastern Conference. They are 24-10 at home but have won just four of their last ten games overall.
Examining the teams statistically, the teams are nearly even in scoring but Atlanta is last in points allowed per game, while the Celtics are sixth best. Another huge advantage for the Celtics is ball control, ranked fourth in fewest turnovers, while the Hawks are dead last. Both teams are not shy about shooting the three-pointer, heaving up the third and sixth most in the NBA. In Atlanta's case, it may be due to the fact they are playing from behind more often than not.
Atlanta has several players that can hurt Boston from long range, lead by veteran Vince Carter, hitting 40 percent from three-point range. Kevin Huerter nails 39 percent, while John Collins hits 38 percent and leads the team in scoring (19.9 per game) and rebounding (9.8 per game). Trae Young is a good complimentary scorer at 18.3 per game, while Taurean Prince, Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len complete the six player that average in double-digits scoring.
The Celtics are lead by Kyrie Irving, averaging 23.4 points and seven assists per game. When he's not scoring, Jayson Tatum is a very good second option, scoring at a 16 point per game pace. Marcus Morris adds 14, while the solid veteran center Al Horford adds 13 and 6.7 rebounds per game. Boston has enough depth to hurt a team with it's bench, as Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward add a combined 24 points per game. The Hawks need tight perimeter defense this game to contain Irving, Tatum and Morris, who hit nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc.
The Hawks have been playing considerably better lately and should give the Celtics more competitive games than earlier this season. Boston has more to play for and will likely turn it around. It would not be a complete shock to see an upset in this one, however the Celtics are likely to come out on top, even if it takes overtime to do so.