It’s actually going to be the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks defeated the Heat, in Miami, by a score of 116-105. This is a team that fired its head coach Nate McMillan during the season and has seemed to come together under new coach Quin Snyder.
So now that we know who the Celtics will actually be playing, let’s break down what this series will look like.
Boston Celtics guards battling with Atlanta Hawks guard power
The guards for each team are going to be a key storyline with the series starting on Saturday.
For the Hawks, it starts and ends with Trae Young.
Young has had another incredible season for a Hawks team that had uncertainties all the way through the year. The former Ohio State point guard averaged 26 points and 10 assists a game. For good measure, he’s also shooting 34 percent from 3-point land and nearly 90 percent from the free throw line.
Dejounte Murray has been a nice complimentary piece this season for Young, coming over from the San Antonio Spurs. He’s averaging 20 points and six assists a game, along with a 3-point shooting percentage of 34 percent and shooting 83 percent from the free throw line.
So Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Derrick White will have their hands full. Look for Smart to take a majority of the matchups against Young and Brown/White to take a lot of the matchups with Murray.
Overall, I like the size of the guards better for the Celtics in this matchup. I think with their length and athleticism, they should be able to keep Young and Murray contained for most of the series.
Boston Celtics not giving the Hawks multiple second chance opportunities
The Hawks had a lot of second chance opportunities against the Heat, which was a big reason they won the 7-8 play-in game. So the Celtics better be taking notes to not give up that many second chances.
Want your voice heard? Join the Chowder And Champions team!
The Hawks have some really skilled frontcourt players in John Collins, Clint Capella and De’Andre Hunter. So the bigs for the Celtics, including Al Horford, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, and Luke Kornet, need to keep Atlanta off the glass. The Celtics did an overall better job with rebounding this season, compared to years past. So it’s all about limiting Atlanta to as many one-and-done possessions as possible.
Celtics vs Hawks: The bottom line
Atlanta will come in very confident after beating the Heat in Miami. But truthfully, I think this is a better result for the Celtics.
The Hawks struggle on defense and the Celtics have one of the best defenses in the NBA. I also love the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown taking over early and often in this series.
Could the Hawks pull off an upset? Of course, anything is possible. But I’m willing to bet that the likelihood of a Celtics slip up in the first round is slim to none.
Celtics-Hawks Series Prediction: Celtics win in 5.