The NBA has released the first-round schedule for the matchup between the second-seeded Boston Celtics and the seventh-seeded Atlanta Hawks. Breaking news: the teams will play at least four times (and if you’re the Celtics, you’re aiming it to just be four times).
We’ve known since Monday that the Celtics were going to tip off Game 1 on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., but after last night’s play-in game when the eighth-place Hawks marched in and blew the seventh-place Miami Heat out in their own building, we now know who exactly the Celtics will be playing. Please send positive thoughts to the Celtics beat writers who thought they were getting a second South Beach
vacation visit in a row during the playoffs.
After Saturday’s Game 1, the Celtics get two days off before suiting back up Tuesday night for the early 7:00 p.m. start. Another two days are in between Games 2 and 3 with the Celtics traveling to Atlanta for a pair of road games. The first is on Friday before Game 4 tips off on Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. After that, should the series go the distance, they’ll have one game between each matchup for Games 5-7 at undetermined times.
Interestingly enough, this is an NBATV series, with Game 2 being broadcast on that network. The last time I can remember (don’t fact check me please) Boston getting an NBATV series was Game 2 against . . . the Atlanta Hawks . . . in 2012 with Rajon Rondo suspended and Ray Allen injured. If you remember, that was an iconic Paul Pierce performance in the middle of a memorable playoff run that led the Celtics to make it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics have higher hopes this year, hoping to recreate the result from 2008 when they faced the Atlanta Hawks in the first round en route to a championship. The Celtics had relatively little trouble scoring against the Hawks in the regular season, so with some fine-tuning, this can be a short series if the Celtics show up and do what they need to do.
Game 1 tips off Saturday on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET.