The Celtics are technically the fourth seed in the East, but they will essentially be the fifth seed as they will open up the series in Atlanta.
NBA rules make it so a fifth seed with a better record than the fourth seed get homecourt advantage, and as the Hawks own a one game lead over the Celtics, they get to open in Atlanta.
Celtics-Hawks Series Preview
The Celtics had a very rough start to the season. Through the first half of the season, the Celts were 15-17. Trade talks surrounded the team, as for some reason Rajon Rondo was rumored to be on the trading block.
They got back to .500 at 17-17, and they have not dipped below .500 since. Trade talks even went on during the second half of the year, with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce being shopped around the league. This would have been an awful idea, just like trading Kendrick Perkins did nothing to help the C’s at all last year.
Without these distractions to deal with the Celtics have a favorable matchup against the Hawks. They are 2-1 this season against Atlanta, with the only loss being by five points. They have advantages at every position, with the possible exception being power forward where Josh Smith has the advantage over Brandon Bass.
Given that the Celtics stay healthy in this series, they should be able to advance to the next round to take on the Rose-less Bulls.
The Hawks have made it out of the first round for three straight years, but have only won a combined two games in the second round during these three years. This year they face a team in the Celtics who they do not match up well against.
For the Hawks to win this series, they will need Joe Johnson to score around twenty points a game. He has carried the load for the team all year, and he will need to continue to do that in the playoffs.
The other key player will be Josh Smith. He will likely be placed on Kevin Garnett throughout the series and will have to play strong defense. With Al Horford being used sparingly in this series, Smith will be the only player for the Hawks who can truly take advantage in the paint. Along with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith must produce at a high rate if the Hawks want any chance to beat Boston.
Celtics-Hawks Series Prediction: Celtics in six
Celtics-Hawks Series Schedule
- Sunday 4/29: Celtics at Hawks
- Tuesday 5/1: Celtics at Hawks
- Friday 5/4: Hawks at Celtics
- Sunday 5/6: Hawks at Celtics
- *Tuesday 5/8: Celtics at Hawks
- *Thursday 5/10: Hawks at Celtics
- *Saturday 5/12: Celtics at Hawks