After Trae Young almost single-handedly saved their season in Game 5, the Atlanta Hawks host the Boston Celtics for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday night. Boston leads the series 3-2.
Dejounte Murray returns to the starting lineup for Atlanta after serving a 1-game suspension for making inappropriate contact with an official at the end of Game 4.
Read on for in-depth analysis of tonight’s Game 6 matchup between the Celtics and Hawks, including a betting prediction, odds, key matchups, and starting lineups.
Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks Prediction
The Celtics were not supposed to be here. As the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, they were supposed to handle the 7th-seeded Atlanta Hawks with relative ease – a gentleman’s sweep seemed like the worst-case scenario.
That remained true with as little as six minutes to go in Game 5, when they held a 13-point lead over Atlanta on their home court. But then Trae Young took over the game, scoring 14 straight points including a super deep pull-up three that gave the Hawks the lead with just two seconds left.
Now the Celtics have to close out the series on the road to avoid a do-or-die Game 7, when anything can happen. They already won one game in Atlanta during this series, and won both road matchups during the regular season.
Boston tied for the second-best road record this season at 25-16 and were 9th against the spread on the road at 23-20. They also boasted the second-best average margin of victory on the road at +2.9.
Everything points to Boston taking care of business in Game 6, and if they win the game, there is a good chance they cover a 6-point spread. But we have already seen a few surprises in this series, and I am not counting out the Hawks giving Boston a tough fight.
This game comes down to the wire, but Trae Young’s heroics fall short and Boston wins a close game but fails to cover.
Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks Betting Odds
The Celtics have been favored in every game of this series, and that has not changed in Game 6, where they opened with a point spread of -6.5 which is now at -6. Their moneyline odds opened at -255, while the Hawks’ moneyline opened at +215. Those lines have moved slightly in the Hawks’ direction, but don’t expect a lot more movement before tipoff.
The over/under in this matchup opened at 231 and has bumped up to 232, which is right in line with the totals for the previous five games of this series. The Over has hit three times in the series – in the last three games. This total is unlikely to change by more than a point in either direction.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Celtics winning 119-113.
- The Celtics are 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a straight-up loss.
- The Over is 7-1 in the Celtics’ last eight road games, and 5-0 in the Hawks’ last five home games.
- The Celtics are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against the Hawks, with those two losses coming in this series.
Three-point shooting could once again be the key difference in Game 6, but it also could come down to which team’s superstar steps up in the 4th quarter.
It’s no coincidence that the team that has shot a better percentage from three-point range has won every game in this series. Overall, Boston has made 1.6 more threes per game than Atlanta on a better percentage, 40.1% versus 36.5%.
The Hawks need to win that battle in this game if they want to avoid elimination. The return of Murray will help, as he leads the team with 3.3 made threes per game in the playoffs on an efficient 39.4% shooting.
If Atlanta shoots well from deep, they have a good chance to cover the spread. If not, Boston likely covers pretty easily.
Trae Young vs. Jayson Tatum
What can Ice Trae do for an encore? Atlanta might need their diminutive superstar to find a way to improve on his stellar performance from Game 5. Not only does he need to score efficiently, but he also needs to penetrate, collapse Boston’s defense, and make plays for his teammates.
Young had 13 assists against 4 turnovers on Tuesday night, and he likely needs to match those numbers to give the Hawks a chance.
On the other side, Boston cannot afford another quiet night from Jayson Tatum, who had just 19 points and went 1-for-10 from three in Game 5. The Celtics need Tatum to play like the MVP candidate that he is, especially in the fourth quarter.
When a player like Young is heating up late in the game like he did in Game 5, it often comes down to star players like Tatum to make a play that stops the momentum. But Tatum scored just two points in the 4th quarter and committed a costly turnover late in the game.
If this game is close late, it could come down to which team’s superstar – Young or Tatum – makes more plays.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineups
Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineups
Boston Celtics Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (O – knee)
Atlanta Hawks Injuries: none