Atlanta Hawks (0-1) vs Boston Celtics (1-0) Round 1 Game 2 04/18/23

The Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks for Game 2 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. The first game was a tale of two halves. The Celtics dominated and built a 30-point lead in the first half of Game 1, but then relaxed in the second half, allowing the Hawks to cut the lead to 12 at one point. The Celtics won Game 1 112-99.

The Hawks will come into this game with some momentum from the second half of Game 1 and will come into the game looking to play their best as they don’t want to go back to Atlanta down 0-2. Quin Snyder will study the film and make some adjustments, so Joe Mazzula will have to be ready to counter those adjustments with some of his own.

This is the thirteenth time these two teams have met in the playoffs. Boston has won 10 of the 12 series so far. Their last meeting was in 2016 when the Hawks won the series 4-2. This offseason, the Celtics signed Al Horford from the Hawks in free agency. The Hawks’ only other playoff victory over the Celtics was in 1958 when the St. Louis Hawks won the series in 6 games. Since the Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta in 1968, the Celtics have won seven of eight playoff series in this game.

Danilo Gallinari is the only Celtic currently on the injured list for this game. Jaylen Brown’s cut on his hand reopened during Game 1. He did not require additional stitches and is expected to play in this game without restrictions at this point. The Hawks have no one on their injured list.

Probable Celtics starters

Marcus SmartPhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Derrick WhitePhoto by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaylen BrownPhoto by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Jayson TatumPhoto by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Celtics Reserves
Malcolm Brogdon
Grant Williams
Sam Houser
Luke Cornett
Blake Griffin
Mike Muscala
Peyton Pritchard
Robert Williams III
Justin Champagne

Two-way players
JD Davison
Mfiondu Kabengele

Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out

Head coach
Joe Mazzula

Likely Hawks starters

Trae YoungPhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Dejunte MurrayPhoto by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

De’Andre HunterPhoto by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

John CollinsPhoto by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Clint CapelaPhoto by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Hawks Reserves
Sadiq Bey
Bogdan Bogdanovich
Bruno Fernando
AJ Griffin
Aaron Holliday
Jaylen Johnson
Vit Krejci
Tyrese Martin
Garrison Matthews
Mr Okongwu

Two-way players
Trent Forrest
Donovan Williams

None listed

Head coach
Quinn Snyder

Key matches

Marcus SmartPhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Trae YoungPhoto by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Marcus Smart vs. Trae Young
Young averaged 26.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 10.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game during the regular season. He shot 43.0% from the field and 33.5% from beyond the arc. In two games against the Celtics this season, Young averaged 31 points, 4 rebounds and 11 assists per game. In Game 1, however, he had 16 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals. He shot just 27.8% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc. He will certainly come into this game looking to be more effective and have a big game. The Celtics will need to guard him tight again.

Derrick WhitePhoto by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Dejunte MurraySam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick White vs. DeJounte Murray
Murray averaged 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game during the regular season. He shot 46.4% from the field and 34.4% from beyond the arc. In 2 games against the Celtics this season, he averaged 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Murray was the only Hawk to play very well in Game 1. He had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. He shot 40% from the field, but went just 0-6 on 3-pointers. Murray is also one of the Hawks’ best defenders. The Celtics will need to work hard on both ends of the court to get the better of this game.

Honorable mention
Malcolm Brogdon vs. Bogdan Bogdanovic
In the regular season, Bogdanovic averaged 14 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists off the bench. He shot 44.7% from the field and 40.6% from beyond the arc. In Game 1, he finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Although he only shot 28.6% from beyond the arc in Game 1, he is a very good 3-point shooter and is a player the Celtics need to protect well as he can get hot quickly if left open. Malcolm Brogdon also had a less-than-stellar Game 1 with 5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. We hope he can do it in this match.

Game keys
Protection – Defense is always the key to winning games and defense becomes even more important in the playoffs. Defense is especially important for the Celtics in this game because the Hawks are a high-scoring team, averaging 117.9 points per game, which is 4th in the league. The Celtics are 3rd with an average of 118.4 points per game. The Celtics have a defensive rating of 110.6, which is 2nd, while the Hawks have a defensive rating of 115.4, which is 22nd. The Celtics played championship defense in Game 1, but let that defense slip away in the second half. The Celtics need to make defense a priority in this game, and they need to play that tough defense for 48 minutes and not quit.

Bounce – Besides defense, rebounding is the key to victory. A big part of rebounding is effort and desire. When the Celtics put in extra effort on the boards, it usually carries over to the rest of their game. The Hawks averaged 44.4 rebounds per game during the regular season (10th), while the Celtics averaged 45.3 rebounds per game (7th). In the 3 games of the regular season, Atlanta beat the Celtics 143-136. The Celtics were just 19-19 when they were bounced in the regular season. The Hawks outrebounded the Heat 63-39 in the playoff game. The Celtics outrebounded the Hawks 54-45 in Game 1. In the first half they outrebounded the Hawks 32-18, but in the second half the Celtics had just 26 rebounds to the Hawks’ 27. The Celtics need to be aggressive after every rebound. They can’t afford to give the Hawks extra possessions by allowing them to grab rebounds.

Take care of the ball – The Celtics averaged just 13.4 turnovers during the regular season (7th). Last year in the playoffs, they turned the ball over 353 times, which was the most of any team in the playoffs. They had over 30 more turnovers than Golden State. In Game 1, the Celtics had 17 turnovers, leading to 19 points for the Hawks. The Celtics need to stay focused and not make sloppy passes and be careful not to allow the Hawks to get steals due to sloppy dribbling. They need to take care of the ball and not give the Hawks easy points by turning it over.

Play hard for 48 minutes – The Celtics played hard and the right way in the first half of Game 1. They shot 60 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from beyond the arc in the first half and held the Hawks to 44 points in the first half. They lost focus, hustle and effort in the second half, shooting just 34.9 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from beyond the arc. They also allowed the Hawks to outscore them by 1 in the second half. The Celtics scored just 38 points in the second half, allowing the Hawks to score 55 points on 44 percent shooting and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Hawks will come out fired up and ready to play, and the Celtics need to match that energy and effort to get going. But they must also maintain their focus, effort and energy throughout the game and not let up for any length of time in the game until the final bell.

Be aggressive – The Celtics can’t afford to go in expecting an easy win after outscoring the Hawks in the first half of Game 1. That would be a big mistake because the Hawks are playing hard and will handle the Celtics hard, especially coming off a loss and after The Celtics gave them life in the second half of Game 1. The Celtics should be the team that plays harder and wants this win more. They need to be aggressive when diving for loose balls, when going to the basket, when making stops on the defensive end and when rebounding after scrambles. The Celtics need to play with energy and aggression for 48 minutes in this game without letting up.

Home court– The Celtics are at home for the second straight game before heading to Atlanta for Game 3. The Hawks were just 17-23 on the road during the regular season, while the Celtics were 32-9 at home. The Celtics should take advantage of the home crowd, which should be loud and do their best to root for the Celtics and shake the Hawks. The Celtics need to win their home games and not let the Hawks steal a game on their home court.

Coaching – The Hawks have a very veteran coach in Quin Snyder, but he has only coached the Hawks for 23 games. Snyder was the head coach of the Utah Jazz for 8 seasons before resigning there. This is Snyder’s 7th straight playoff streak, the longest streak of any current head coach. Game 2 is where coaching becomes even more important. Snyder will watch film and make adjustments, and it will be up to Joe Mazzula to counter those adjustments. Mazzula won his first playoff game. Can he train the veteran and make it two wins in a row?

Judging – Refereeing is always an x-factor. Each team calls the play a little differently, with some calling it tight and others letting them play. Some referees just make dizzying calls, while others try very hard to get them right. In some games they call the two halves completely different. They usually allow more contact in the playoffs, but that’s not a guarantee. The Celtics need to adjust to how the game is paid and focus on the game, not bad payments or no payments.

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