The Boston Celtics took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks with a 101-79 win on Sunday. The Celtics have rebounded back from a 74-83 loss in Game 1 with 3 straight wins. The series returns to Atlanta on Tuesday for Game 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 EST and will be televised nationally on TNT.
Oddsmakers have Atlanta favored by 1-point over Boston with the total set at 174 points. Get the most up-to-date news on this series at Betfirms.
Boston didn’t just beat Atlanta in Game 4, they completely dominated that game from the first quarter. Boston had a 23-point lead at the halfand were able to cruise the rest of the way. If Boston can carry over the momentum gained from that win, I’ve got a hard time seeing this series returning to Boston for Game 6. Not only do the Celtics look poised to go to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but you have got to like their odds of of making it back to the Conference Finals. With the injury to Derrick Rose, the top-seeded Chicago Bulls are one-game away from being sent home. If the Bulls go on to lose, it would set up a really favorable matchup against Philadelphia in the next round.
It’s hard enough to beat the Celtics with the way in which they play defense, but when they show up on offense like they did in Game 5 it’s pretty much impossible. Boston shot 51.3% from the field and were a sizzling 11 for 26 (42.3%) from long distance. Paul Pierce had a game-high 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting (4-6 from 3-point range) and Rajon Rondo ended the game with 20 points points and 16 assists.
There’s going to be a lot of people who jump on the Celtics in Game 5. While I can’t blame anybody for wanting to take Boston after the performance they put on in Game 4, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have a little bit of a letdown. As bad as the Hawks played in Game 4, you’ve got to believe they’re going to come out and put everything on the line to keep their season alive.
Plain and simple, the Atlanta Hawks didn’t show up to play in Game 4. It actually looked promising for Atlanta after they were able to win Game 1 at home and the Celtics were going to be without Rondo in Game 2. Three straight losses have completely changed everything. Even if the Hawks are able to win Game 5 at home, I give them little to no chance of winning Game 6 in Boston.
Although it isn’t all that surprising that the Hawks were unable to win a game on the road, I don’t think anybody expected this team to lose by 22-points, particularly with the return of Al Horfod to the lineup. Surprisingly, Horford played very well in his first game back. He had 12 points and five rebounds in just 20 minutes off action. Sadly the remainder of the team didn’t show up. Josh Smith was the only starter in double-figures with 15 points, but he shot a miserable 5 of 13 from the field. Joe Johnson, who the Hawks greatly relies on offensively, had just 9 points. He was a respectable 4 of 8 from the field, but Atlanta isn’t going to beat Boston when he takes just 8 field-goal attempts.
It wasn’t just the offense that failed to show up. The Hawks put forth little effort on the defensive side of the ball. I understand the Celtics were making just about everything they shot but a large amount of that was a result of wide open looks. It all starts with the poor defense being played on Rondo. When Rondo can do as he pleases, the Celtics offense becomes very efficient. Kirk Hinrich and Jeff Teague have to put more pressure on Rondo and do whatever it takes to get the ball out of his hands.
Looking to take down the NBA odds? Click here for the lastest free picks from our top rated handicappers. For the latest info on every sport click this.