The series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 with the Celtics leading the series 3 games to 1. After dropping Game 3 in Atlanta 122-130, the Celtics got back on track and won Game 4 in Atlanta 129-121. The Celtics need to play with energy and effort and play tough defense for 48 minutes. They also need to go for every rebound if they hope to get a win in this game and avoid having to go back to Atlanta for Game 6.
The Celtics should have extra motivation to stay focused and get a win in this game and move on to the second round. The Philadelphia 76ers are at home resting up for their second round matchup. They closed out their first round series on Saturday in 4 games. If the Celtics close out their series in 5 games, they will begin the second round on Saturday, giving them 3 days to rest and prepare. The longer this series goes, the less time they will have to prepare and the more time the 76ers will have to rest up for their next series.
This is the thirteenth time that these two teams have met in the playoffs. Boston has won 10 of the 12 series so far. Their last meeting was in 2016 when the Hawks won the series 4-2. That off-season, the Celtics signed Al Horford away from the Hawks in free agency. The only other Hawks playoff win over the Celtics was in 1958 when the St. Louis Hawks won the series in 6 games. Since the Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta in 1968, the Celtics have won seven of eight playoff series in this matchup.
At the end of Game 4, Hawks guard Dejounte Murray charged at a referee and bumped him, while yelling at him. It was reported on Monday, that he would be suspended for this game due to those actions. I’m guessing that Bogdan Bogdanovic will start in his place. Other than Murray, the Hawks have no one out. For the Celtics, only Danilo Gallinari (knee) is on the injury list.
Probable Celtics Starters
Robert Williams III
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Probable Hawks Starters
2 Way Players
Dejounte Murray (suspension) out
Marcus Smart vs Trae Young
In the first two games of the playoffs, Young averaged 20 points, 3 rebounds 7 assists and 2 steals. He shot just 34.4% from the field and 22.5% from beyond the arc. In Game 3, he upped his game and finished with 32 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 1 steal. He shot 54.5% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc in Game 3. Then in Game 4, he finished with 35 points, 3 rebounds, 15 assists, and 2 steals. The Celtics need to be ready for a confident Young in this game and be ready to defend him.
Derrick White vs Bogdan Bogdanovic
With Murray out for this game, I’m guessing that Bogdan Bogdanovic will get the start in his place. In the Hawks win in Game 3, Bogdanovic finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block, shooting 75% from the field and 75% from beyond the arc. In Game 4, he played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble, but finished with 8 points and 2 rebounds before fouling out. Bogdanovic is a very good 3 point shooter and the Celtics need to stay with him especially on the perimeter.
Jaylen Brown vs De’Andre Hunter
Hunter is coming off his best game of the series, finishing with 27 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. He shot 64.7% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need to stay with him both on the perimeter and in the paint as he can score from both. Hunter is also a good defender and may give the Celtics problems as they try to score.
Keys to the Game
Defense Defense is always a key to winning games and defense becomes even more important in the playoffs. The Celtics’ defense was very good in the first two games but that defensive intensity didn’t show up in Game 3. They allowed Atlanta to score 74 points in the first half, and although they played a little better on the defensive end in the second half, the first half gave the Hawks confidence. Thankfully, the Celtics played much better defense in Game 4 and got the win. They need to make defense a priority and play tough lock down defense on every possession of the game if they hope to close out the series in this game.
Rebound - Next to defense, rebounding is a key to winning. In the 3 regular season games, Atlanta out-rebounded the Celtics 143-136. The Celtics out rebounded the Hawks 54-45 in Game 1 but the Hawks out-rebounded the Celtics 49-44 in Game 2 and they out-rebounded the Celtics 48-29 in the loss in Game 3. The Celtics once again won the rebounding battle in Game 4 49-42. The Celtics need to aggressively go after every rebound. They can’t afford to give the Hawks extra possessions by allowing them to grab more rebounds.
Be Aggressive - The Hawks play hard and they out-played the Celtics in Game 3. The Hawks were the more aggressive team and they played harder and with more energy and the Celtics lost. 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 Celtics need to play with energy and aggressiveness for 48 minutes in this game with no let up. They can’t let the Hawks be the more aggressive team.
Get to the Basket - The Celtics made 21 threes in Game 3 and shot 43.8% from beyond the arc. However, they had just 40 points in the paint to 54 for the Hawks. In the Celtics’ win in Game 1, both teams had 54 points in the paint. In the Celtics’ win in game 2, the Celtics had 64 points in the paint to just 40 for the Hawks. In Game 4, they once again got into the paint for 56 points to just 44 for the Hawks. The Celtics need to get to the basket more and not depend on 3 pointers so much. They have been successful in this series when they drive and get to the basket but not so much when they don’t.
Stay Focused and Play Hard - The Celtics are up in the series 3 games to 1. One more game and they move on to the second round. Close out games are the toughest to win because the team that is down is desperate and gives it their all while the team that is up tends to let up. This is especially true when the opposing team is missing one of their top players like the Hawks will be. The Celtics need to come out focused from the opening tip and focus on playing the right way right up until the final buzzer.
Home Court- They call it home court advantage for a reason and teams play hard in the regular season to get home court advantage in the playoffs. The Hawks were just 17-23 on the road in the regular season while the Celtics were 32-9 at home. The Celtics need to take advantage of the home crowd, which should be loud and doing everything in their power to support the Celtics and rattle the Hawks. They need to close this series out at home.
Coaching - The Hawks have a very veteran coach in Quin Snyder, but he has only been coaching the Hawks for 26 games. Snyder was head coach of the Utah Jazz for 8 seasons before resigning there. These are the 7th straight playoffs for Snyder, which is the longest streak by any active head coach. Joe Mazzulla won the first 2 games in Boston and the second game in Atlanta. Snyder won the first game in Atlanta. Snyder made adjustments going into Game 3 and they were obviously successful. Mazzulla countered with adjustments of his own for Game 4. Which coach will come out on top in this one?
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Every crew calls the game a little differently with some calling it tight and others letting them play. Some refs just make head scratching calls while others try very hard to get them right. In many games, they call the game tight in the first half and then loosen up on the calls in the second half or vice versa. The Celtics have to adjust to how the game is being called and focus on playing the game and not on the bad calls or no calls. They absolutely need to keep their composure no matter what calls the officials do or do not make.