The Celtics are within the playoffs and their first opponent is the brand new Falcons led by Trae Younger and Dejounte Murray.
After going through acquainted foes in Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami final 12 months, the Celtics will face Atlanta to open their house court docket for the primary time in 2023 since Al Horford and the Hawks bounced them from the postseason in 2016.
Listed here are seven issues to observe when the sequence ends.
The numbers contribute to Boston.
The Hawks thrive offensively and sacrifice their protection for causes we’ll get to shortly, however the Celtics have been considerably higher on each ends this season. In keeping with NBA Stats, the Celtics had the second finest offensive ranking and the second finest defensive ranking. By comparability, the Hawks are seventh in offense and twenty second in protection. The disparity in glass cleansing that filters out rubbish time is identical, with the Celtics fourth and third in offensive and defensive rankings, whereas the Hawks are ninth and twenty first.
The numbers stay comparatively regular after the All-Star break. The Celtics have the league’s finest internet ranking, contributing to the No. 5 offense and No. 2 protection. The Hawks have the fourth-best offense and the No. 25 protection within the stretch.
Younger is the point of interest for the Hawks. The 24-year-old averaged 26.2 factors (14th within the NBA) and 10.2 assists (third within the NBA) in the course of the common season, and the Hawks had been 6.8 factors per 100 possessions higher with Younger on the ground. : His utilization ranking, based on Cleansing the Glass, was within the 96th percentile at 37.0 p.c, and in opposition to the Celtics, it jumped to 43 p.c. Any success the Hawks discover will probably be pushed by Younger, who’s the piston that drives their engine.
The Celtics will probably use a variety of guards on Younger, however Marcus Good specifically is happy for the problem.
“Any participant I’m going in opposition to, particularly among the finest gamers on this league, I am wanting ahead to it,” Good informed reporters after Thursday’s apply. “It is a sport as a defensive man, going up in opposition to one of the best offensive gamers, it is solely going to make me higher.”
Anticipate the Celtics to pursue Younger relentlessly.
Opponent searching has troubled the Celtics at occasions prior to now, as it may well flip into an isolation-heavy offense filled with turn-of-the-mill motion. The Celtics are at their finest when the ball is transferring rapidly and the gamers will not be.
However for a Celtics offense that does not actually have any particular person weaknesses, a participant like Younger is the proper point of interest. The Hawks have tried to cover Younger on Derrick White at occasions, however White is just too nimble; going proper to Younger when he will get a 1-on-1 alternative, or working the Hawks star by run-and-rolls to create havoc. or off-ball screens to sneakily draw Younger into the motion. The Hawks used Younger on Malcolm Brogdon, who additionally has disastrous potential. Brogdon is an much more polished and muscular scorer than White. At occasions, the Hawks tried Younger in opposition to Sam Hauser, which did not work out nicely both; Hauser will get off the ball an excessive amount of and shoots too nicely for a careless defender like Younger.
Even when Younger does the appropriate factor, he may be held accountable. Watch right here as he passes on Jaylen Brown, encouraging Clint Capela from the nook the place Al Horford is hiding. “Celtics” actually do not have a foul possibility. Horford is open in a single nook, White is open within the different, and Brown can try a layup. Brown made the only (and finest) play obtainable, and the consequence was an open 3-pointer.
The Hawks have some stable defenders round Younger, however the playoffs are all about matchups. The Hawks will want Younger on the ground offensively on this sequence, however the Celtics will enthusiastically use their reliance on Younger as a chance to take advantage of his protection.
The Hawks are struggling to deal with this iteration of Jayson Tatum.
Younger’s protection is a major downside for the Hawks, however causes a number of Celtics issues total, particularly Tatum, for whom the Hawks do not actually have a person defender. De’Andre Hunter has performed nicely with Tatum prior to now, however Tatum can outrun Hunter when he is aggressive off the bounce. Capela’s size may hassle Tatum on the rim, however Tatum may make the Hawks pay together with his passing if Capela turns into a helper defender. Dejounte Murray is an efficient defender, however he is too quick and thin for the Tatum sport. John Collins is just too sluggish and would not have the dimensions or power benefit in opposition to Tatum.
When he is at his finest this season, Tatum has advanced into a brand new form of famous person, a lethal slasher who finds nice angles on the rim, runs opponents out of the best way and makes his technique to the free throw line, all whereas patiently dribbling. protection together with his assists and largely making a good variety of 3-pointers.
In different phrases, the Hawks must discover a technique to defend Tatum as a group given the truth that Younger shall be on the ground for practically 40 minutes per sport.
Good wanting, Quin Snyder.
Hawks are younger.
Questions on Younger’s future with the group dangle over the Hawks proper now, however they’ve an fascinating younger roster even with out him. Onyeka Okongwu was thought-about a Bam Adebayo-type huge man coming into the draft, and his cellular, lively protection each on and off the ball may be disruptive. Jaylen Johnson slipped to No. 20 within the draft and has struggled from 3 this 12 months, however at 6-foot-3 with a very good deal with, nice athleticism and lengthy arms, the previous 5-star recruit has been within the last weeks because the season wound down. . AJ Griffin shot 39 p.c from 3-point vary this 12 months. Sadiq Bey was an fascinating determine for wingspan and taking pictures. Murray is simply now coming into his prime.
However with youth comes inexperience, and the Celtics have benefited from each Johnson and Griffin once they’ve been on the court docket this season. The Hawks’ protection is three factors per 100 possessions higher with Okongwu on the ground (second finest on the group behind Bay), however even his stable edge safety paperwork roster-wide issues.
Younger is simply 24, so he suits the Hawks’ window if their youth flip right into a promising match alongside him. However even when Younger’s relationship with Atlanta falls aside, there is a construction that might preserve it related.
Towards the Celtics, nevertheless, it is unclear how a lot that younger construction will assist.
How huge of an influence will Clint Capela have?
On the one hand, Capela’s measurement, size and athleticism make him a power; he’s third within the NBA in offensive rebounding, fourth in whole rebounds, and twenty third in blocked photographs. The Celtics are at their finest when Tatum can drive to the rim at will, however Capela makes these drives to the basket considerably harder.
Then again, Capela, like most huge males, would not defend significantly nicely in area. The Celtics ought to have the ability to get him out of the paint with Al Horford of their 5 appearances, and they need to have the ability to match up his size and athleticism in a giant method with Robert Williams, who has but to face Atlanta this season.
The massive query for the Celtics is perhaps how a lot Capela can trouble Tatum, however that may not matter a lot in the long run.
Will Sam Hauser grow to be the X-factor?
Through the common season, Hauser averaged 17.7 factors and made 68.8 p.c of his threes on 8.3 makes an attempt in opposition to the Hawks. These numbers are inflated within the Celtics’ last sport of the common season (26 factors, 8-for-14 from three), however the Hawks had a whole lot of hassle with Hauser’s motion and flooring spacing, and the Celtics had been usually superb. : when Hauser hits nicely.
What’s our selection?
The Celtics at 5.
Truthfully, the Celtics ought to in all probability sweep this sequence, and in the event that they do, that is a very good signal for his or her focus and engagement degree going ahead. However we’re keen to offer Trae Younger and Dejounte Murray one sport in opposition to a Celtics group that excels in a variety of vital methods.
Recreation 1 ideas off Saturday at 3:30 p.m.