With just 13 games remaining in the 2018-19 regular season the 42-27 Boston Celtics host the 24-45 Atlanta Hawks in what will be the final meeting between the two teams this season. The Celtics are 5-2 in their previous 7 games as they square up against yet another young, quick team with 3 point shooting and end to end, rim running big men. Thursday night, Boston rallied from 17 down against a young fast-paced Sacramento Kings team as the C’s head into the game looking to keep pace with the 3rd and 4th seed in the East.
The previous game (January 19th) between the two teams, saw five Atlanta players register in double figures with starting SG Kevin Heurter leading the team with 18 points on 4-10 from behind the arc. Atlanta came out the more aggressive team in that one as they rattled off an impressive, 36 point first quarter to lead by 8 points, it would be the Celtics however, to finally prevail in a 113-105 win.
That previous Atlanta matchup was a carbon copy of the way Boston was left to play catch up Thursday night against the Kings to come from behind to win. Rookie Robert Williams was ready to contribute off the bench last game in spurts alongside veteran stalwart Aron Baynes, Semi Ojeleye also received time with the injuries to key rotation players. Kyrie Irving comes into the game after posting his first triple double of the season and only his second ever and Jaylen Brown has warmed into his new bench role, again proving to be the spark when the team and crowd needed it most.
Following the recent California road trip, Boston were decimated by a flu bug which left both Daniel Theis and Terry Rozier out of the game Thursday. Both are listed as questionable tonight along with French PF, Guerschon Yabusele. The C’s have utilised a shortened rotation recently and they will need to do so again today with 2 rotation players and a back-up big man possibly absent.
On the season, Atlanta have been a terrible defensive team, allowing opponents a dizzying 118.6 points per night whilst ranking 27th in defensive efficiency, the Hawks are also less than stellar performers on the road with only 11 wins this season. However, the 2018-19 Celtics are not immune to notable losses at TD Garden, especially to lesser NBA talent. Brad Stevens and the coaching staff will be preaching the importance of perimeter defending especially against the Hawks quick backcourt players.
PG - Kyrie Irving - Trae Young
SG - Marcus Smart - Kevin Heurter
SF - Jayson Tatum - Taurean Prince
PF - Marcus Morris - John Collins
C - Al Horford - Dewayne Dedmon
Boston - Daniel Theis (Illness); Terry Rozier (Illness); Guerschon Yabusele (Illness).
Atlanta - Miles Plumlee (knee); Alex Poythress (ankle); Omari Spellman (ankle).
How To Watch
Time - 12:30 EST
TV - NBC Sports Boston