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“Don’t get cocky, kid”: scattered thoughts up 2-0

Searching for storylines in an anticlimactic Celtics-Hawks round one series

Atlanta Hawks (106) Vs. Boston Celtics (119) at TD Garden Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are a better basketball team than the Atlanta Hawks. That has been apparent through the first two games of their first round series. Of course, that’s a dangerous sentiment with a team that has shown a tendency all year to let their collective feet off the proverbial pedal when they get up on an inferior opponent.

I get that this is a bad matchup for the Hawks and that they are going through something of an identity crisis right now. But I always cringe when I hear sports personalities (let’s call this one “Sill Bimmons”) use the old “I don’t know what adjustments the Hawks can make” line.

The short answer is that they can make more shots, get some momentum at home, and ride a Trae Young heater. Combine that with a not-so-locked-in Celtics team, and you could see the Hawks stealing a game. I think a sweep is very much on the table, I’m just tapping on the break pedal of my expectations ever so slightly.

One reason to believe that the Celtics won’t be caught sleeping is Al Horford. He’s generally a quiet, unassuming, lead-by-example kind of guy. But it seems like he knows that his career won’t last forever, and he wants to capitalize on his chances at a title and he’s letting the team know it. He’s backing it up with actions as well, stretching the Hawks bigs out and hitting clutch 3-pointers just when Atlanta seemed ready to make a mini-run.

Bonus prediction on Horford: He’s morphed into a 3-point sniper and he’s going to conserve his energy and body for when he needs to play defense on Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, he hasn’t forgotten how to handle business in the post. At some point in these playoffs, the team is going to need a bucket, Horford is going to find some young fella that hasn’t guarded the post since high school, and he’s going to drop an and-one bucket on him.

This is 100% going to happen at least once.

I’d love to write about Derrick White but this blog has that covered and then some. If you haven’t taken the time to read this tremendous feature article by Jack Simone, then stop reading this immediately and go there.

It's funny how I don’t really write about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown that much anymore. They have reached the level of stardom that we simply expect greatness from them each and every game — to the point where a bad shooting night or a few turnovers seems like an annoying aberration. Boy, are we spoiled. So, here’s my brief appreciation text:

Tatum and Brown are special and I hope they know how well they are loved here.

It is getting a little overlooked because of how much White is impacting the game, but don’t sleep on the energy shifting vibe of Robert Williams III. When he enters the game, a whole different element is unlocked, and it is only amplified because he’s facing the other team’s second unit.

Oh, and by the way, rest up Grant Williams. You are going to be needed in the next two rounds. Be ready.

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