No top seed in the playoffs looked more dominant in their first game of the series than the Boston Celtics. Even as a two seed, the Celtics are the clear favorite to come out of the East as one of the deepest units in the conference. That depth was on full display in a rout of the Atlanta Hawks in game one, now sitting as a -10.5 favorite in game two. Avoiding the injury bug that plagued other top units, the Celtics are in a position to dominate the rest of this series and get some rest for a deep playoff run.
Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics Prediction
The Pick: Celtics to sweep rest of series (+190 FD)
What the blowout did tell me is that the Celtics are locked and loaded and are poised to make a run to the NBA Finals. That starts by sweeping the inferior Atlanta Hawks, giving the Celtics potential rest before a highly anticipated second round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers who are currently up 2-0 on the Brooklyn Nets.
That means making quick work of the Hawks is vital and they are more than poised to do so as a more efficient unit on both ends of the court. Especially on the defensive end, ranking third in Defensive Efficiency per TeamRankings. The Hawks offense has struggled this season as their three-point percentages dipped, but have rediscovered their identity with Trae Young slashing through the interior. A foul gathering maestro, Young looks to slash and either finish at the rim or dish to an open man.
That normally is a cause for concern for most units, but the Celtics defense excels at putting a body in front of the slashing guard and disrupting their path to the rim without fouling. By shifting over to the open man that Young is searching for, that cuts off the Hawks game plan and forces them into stalled out possessions that results in a below average look at the rim.
Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics Betting Odds
The sharp contrast of talent on both ends of the court was on full display in game one as the Celtics are a far more efficient unit as a whole. Oddsmakers believe we may be in for another blowout as they opened the Celtics as a -11.5 favorite in game two. Bettors believe that number was opened a tad too high, backing the Hawks down to +10.5 as of writing. They did manage to scrape together a run after being down by 25 but benefited from going against the Celtics bench.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a quick pace as they opened the number at 230. Bettors are in agreement, taking the total up to 230.5 in some shops. The under has been lucrative when these two teams match up, going 6-2 in their last eight meetings against each other. I personally am avoiding it as a blowout skews numbers when both units play their benches more minutes than on average.
- Hawks are 0-5 ATS in the last five meetings in Boston
- Under is 6-2 in the last eight matchups
- Hawks are 0-6 ATS in the last six meetings overall against each other
Can Jayson Tatum continue to find success against the Hawks interior?
Jayson Tatum Vs. Hawks interior defense
The Hawks defense has been a relatively weak unit throughout the season, but they do excel at guarding the interior when both Clint Capela and John Collins are on the floor.
The Celtics have been wise in their efforts to counteract it, going small and forcing Collins to stretch out from the rim in an effort to guard Jayson Tatum. Collins is an elite defender, but struggles to keep up with Tatum’s ball handling and slashing ability as one of the best pure scorers in the league.
This forces Collins to either dare him to shoot over the top, or expose the interior by leaking away from the rim. The Celtics ability to shift the defense to their liking and create efficient scoring opportunities is a key reason why I think the Celtics sweep the series in my Atlanta Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics prediction.
The Celtics should have little to no issue in making quick work with the Hawks, making it vital they sweep them before a date with the 76ers.
Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics Starting Lineups
Atlanta Hawks Injuries: N/A
Boston Celtics Injuries: N/A