Heading into the second sport of their first-round sequence, the Boston Celtics might be on the lookout for the second straight win (and their fifth of the season) over the Atlanta Hawks. With management of the sequence on supply, it’s honest to count on Joe Mazzulla’s crew to come back out scorching, and look to push the tempo from the opening whistle, forcing Atlanta’s protection to bend after which finally break beneath the stress.
We noticed the same strategy in sport one, properly, for the primary half no less than. After which, with a big lead supporting them, Boston took their foot off the gasoline. As such, the Hawks will seemingly come into this contest with a perception that they will compete on this sequence, and so they had discovered some type of blueprint — it’s the Celtics’ job to grab that hope and stamp it out for the entire world to see.
After all, what we noticed on Saturday afternoon received’t be what we see on Tuesday. The postseason thrives on changes, each in-game and on a night-to-night foundation. With that being mentioned, listed here are three issues to look at in sport two of the Celtics’ first-round sequence.
Holding Trae Younger Subdued
Of their first playoff encounter, the Celtics did an incredible job of limiting Trae Younger’s affect. Boston picked him up excessive up the court docket and restricted his capability to penetrate off the dribble. Pinching on drives, hedging over screens, and maintaining issues contemporary when it comes to defenders, the Celtics stored the stress on Younger all through the night time.
The problem now’s discovering new methods to restrict his sport. Quin Snyder and his teaching employees will seemingly have prepped Younger on learn how to assault the upper defensive pick-ups, coached new methods to punish defenders on screening actions, and, fairly frankly, banking on one other poor taking pictures night time is likely to be a step too far.
Nonetheless, Younger has to take care of a monstrous perimeter protection that boasts the 2022 Defensive Participant of the 12 months, a 2023 All-Protection candidate, and a 2023 Sixth Man of the 12 months candidate. Determining learn how to rating in opposition to that kind of expertise is way from straightforward, particularly when Robert Williams and Al Horford are anchoring the paint.
Punishing Atlanta’s Protection
On Saturday, the Celtics have been discovering methods to get to the rim at will and transformed 66.7% of their makes an attempt. Nonetheless, in actuality, solely 32% of their offense got here inside 4 toes of the basket. Within the trendy NBA, you’ll be able to stay with virtually a 3rd of your photographs coming across the cup, however in opposition to a Hawks protection that could be a fixed inexperienced mild to oncoming site visitors, maybe upping the rim quantity barely might pay dividends.
With 25% of Boston’s game-one offense being within the paint, however exterior of the restricted space, it could seem that some minor changes might see the rim stress flip up a notch and probably give the Celtics some extra straightforward seems to be to flesh out a pleasant cushion as they did of their final outing.
Contemplating the variety of proficient slashers and on-ball penetrators Boston has on deck, and the defensive limitations throughout the Hawks roster, I’d be inclined to say attacking the rim at a barely increased clip is the bottom of hanging fruits.
Grant Williams or Sam Hauser?
It is sensible. Going small in opposition to the Hawks means that you can play sooner. It means that you can stretch the ground, and create mismatches when operating actions on the perimeter. Nonetheless, Sam Hauser struggled to make an affect together with his 11 minutes of enjoying time, exterior of his affordable protection, in fact.
I get it. This seems like a sequence that doesn’t go well with what Grant Williams brings to the ground. There’s minimal cause to be operating double-big lineups for extended stretches, and Hauser’s off-ball motion and scoring gravity each play into the system Mazzulla desires to run. But, Williams is playoff examined — he is aware of learn how to succeed at this degree and what it takes to excel inside a crew construction.
Moreover, Williams has one thing to show. After beginning the season in spectacular trend, the upcoming restricted free agent drastically cooled off within the second half of the season, and proper now, it seems like he wants some ‘rhythm video games’ to get again to his greatest. In any case, his quantity will certainly be known as when it’s time to protect Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris within the subsequent spherical. Do you really need him coming into that sequence chilly, shorn of confidence, and over-zealous to take care of his spot within the rotation?
Williams is at his greatest with a gradual function within the rotation. Now, I’m not saying Hauser isn’t deserving of his present roster spot as a result of he most actually is, particularly in a sequence in opposition to the Hawks, who he appears to cook dinner most of the time. However I wouldn’t be shocked to see Williams’ title known as in some unspecified time in the future on Tuesday night time. Then once more, there would even be no shock issue if he registered one other DNP.
I got here into this sequence anticipating a gentleman’s sweep. After Saturday’s sport, I used to be tempted to vary my prediction, however that feels untimely. Ideally, the Celtics will deal with their enterprise in sport two and at worst, cut up the journey all the way down to Atlanta for video games three and 4. Nonetheless, if we’re being trustworthy, this sequence has sweep written throughout it, except Younger goes supernova for a sport or two.