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Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics (Part 2) Game #29 2/19/21

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The Celtics and Hawks square off for the second time in three days.

Atlanta Hawks Vs Boston Celtics At TD Garden Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

For the second time in 3 days, the Celtics and Atlanta Hawks face off at the TD Garden. The first meeting didn’t go very will with the Hawks coming away with a 122-114. That win ended a 4 game losing streak for the Hawks. The Celtics have now lost 5 of their 7 games. They will close out the series on February 24 in Atlanta.

The Celtics have slipped to 5th in the East, 4.5 games behind first place Philadelphia and 1/2 game behind 4th place Indiana. They are 7-5 at home and 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Hawks are 10th, just one game out of 6th place and just 2 games behind the Celtics. They are 6-7 on the road and 3-7 in their last 10 games.

The Hawks have struggled in the 4th quarter all season. They have led going into the 4th quarter 17 times so far this season, including in Wednesday night’s game. They lost 7 of those games. The Hawks allowed the Celtics to come back to within 5 in the 4th quarter on Wednesday but held on to win behind some 16 4th quarter points from Trae Young.

The Celtics were playing in back to back games and played in 6 games in 8 nights on Wednesday. They have had just one day’s rest going into this game. They have also been struggling with injuries with Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis joining Marcus Smart on the injury list for that game. Both Walker and Theis were off the most recent injury list.

However, Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with knee soreness. He missed 2 games on the Western road trip and it was revealed that he is dealing with tendonitis in his knee and would be closely monitored. Javonte Green got a surprise start on Wednesday along with Semi Ojeleye, who has been starting the last few games with Smart out. If Jaylen can’t play Brad may go to Javonte again to start in his place.

For the Hawks, they have the same 4 players listed as out. Rajon Rondo is not with the team as he deals with a back injury. Bogdan Bogdanovic is out with an ankle injury. Kris Dunn (ankle) and De’Andre Hunter (knee) are also out. Hawks coach, Lloyd Pierce will miss his second game as he is out due to the birth of his child. Nate McMillan will fill in for him once again.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Payton Pritchard
Tremont Waters
Robert Williams III
Tacko Fall
Jeff Teague
Carsen Edwards
Aaron Nesmith
Grant Williams
Javonte Green

Injuries
Marcus Smart (calf) out
Romeo Langford (wrist) out
Jaylen Brown (knee) questionable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Hawks Starters

Hawks Reserves
Bruno Fernando
Danilo Gallinari
Brandon Goodwin
Solomon Hill
Nathan Knight
Skylar Mays
Onyeka Okongwu
Tony Snell

Injuries
Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) out
Kris Dunn (ankle) out
De’Andre Hunter (knee) out
Rajon Rondo (back) out

Head Coach
Lloyd Pierce (out)
Nate McMillan (assistant)

Key Matchups

Kemba Walker vs Trae Young
Kemba should be back and give the Celtics a bit more offense. Trae Young is averaging 26.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 9.4 assists. He is shooting 42% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. He scored 40 points along with 8 assists in Wednesday’s game and the Celtics simply must slow him down. They sure could use Marcus Smart about now.

Jayson Tatum vs John Collins
John Collins has been playing very well. He is averaging 18.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 blocks. He is shooting 54% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc. He had 20 points and 6 rebounds on Wednesday. Jayson Tatum has admitted that he is still struggling with conditioning due to his bout with Covid and all of these games packed in together can’t be helping him.

Honorable Mention
Daniel Theis vs Clint Capela
Capela is averaging 13.8 points, 13.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.2 blocks per game. He is a threat to score around the basket and is a very good rebounder. He finished Wednesday’s game with 24 points and 13 rebounds. He is shooting 57% from the field but is not a threat to shoot 3’s. Daniel Theis should be back and will likely be back in the starting lineup and will be tasked with keeping Capela away from the basket.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Hawks are averaging 112.8 points per game while the Celtics are averaging 110.1 points per game. The Hawks, who had been struggling, had their best game of the season against the Celtics. The Celtics have to make defense a priority and not let up on the effort necessary to get stops. Their lax defense has allowed too many struggling teams to have their best game of the season and that has to stop if the Celtics expect to be anything other than a mediocre team.

Rebound - Rebounding gives the Celtics extra possessions and it also deprives the Hawks of the same. The Celtics are averaging 44.1 rebounds per game while the Hawks are averaging 46.3rebounds per game, 5th in the league. Rebounding takes effort and energy and when the Celtics put out that extra effort on the boards it usually translates to the rest of their game.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the team that plays harder and that wants this win more. They have to be aggressive in diving for loose balls, in going to the basket, in getting stops on the defensive end, and in going after rebounds. The Hawks played harder than the Celtics and they were more aggressive on Wednesday. The Celtics have to reverse that and play harder in this game.

Move the Ball Carefully - The Celtics always play best when they run on every possession and when they move the ball and don’t over dribble. When they run, they have a chance to get easy baskets before the Hawks defense gets set. When they move the ball, they find the open man and get the best shots. They have to keep the ball moving and not revert to hero ball, which they have had the tendency to do recently. They have to play team ball.

X-Factors
Pride and Revenge - The Celtics have to be embarrassed by losing to the Knicks, Pistons, Wizards and now the Hawks recently. They need to have their pride kick in and refuse to lose a second time to a weak Hawks team. They need to avenge Wednesday’s loss by playing smart, focused and aggressive basketball.

Injuries and Next Man Up - The Celtics should get 2 key players back from the injury list for this game but they very well might lose one of their top 2 players if Jaylen can’t play. Every player has to step up, especially to make up for Smart’s absence on the defensive end.

Officiating - The style of officiating can affect the outcome of a game. They don’t even have to favor one team over the other. When officials call every little bit of contact, the Celtics seem to struggle. When the refs let them play, the Celtics play much better. The Celtics have to adjust to the way the refs call the game and not allow bad or missed calls to take away their focus. They also can’t spend the game looking for fouls and complaining when they don’t get the calls.