The Atlanta Hawks snapped a four-game losing skid against the undermanned Boston Celtics last game out. The best way of backing this up is against the same Celtics squad who is still missing their best defender, Marcus Smart.
In Smart’s absence, superstar guard Trae Young had 40 points to go along with eight assists, three rebounds, and two steals. He had his best shooting game of the year going 14-of-20 from the field and 4-of-9 from deep. He did not miss any of his eight free-throw attempts.
Jayson Tatum was the star for the Celtics with 35 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Jaylen Brown was off at the start of the last game but still finished with 22 points but was not efficient, shooting only 6-of-20 from the field.
Atlanta Hawks key No. 1) Feed the big men
The Hawks big men, Clint Capela and John Collins, simply feasted inside against the smaller Celtics frontcourt. Combined they had 44 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. They took 22 shots between them, making 16.
One sign that they were too big for the Celtics was that they were sent to the free-throw line 16 times between them. The Celtics resorted to fouling to slow the two of them down. Collins did not miss any of his eight attempts, Capela only made four of his eight.
Atlanta Hawks Key No. 2) Keep a lid on Jayson Tatum
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This is one of the hardest tasks in the NBA at the moment. Tatum can score on all three levels as shown by his shooting splits of 44.9 percent from the floor, 38.9 percent from deep, and 88.6 percent from the line. As a result, he is averaging 25.8 points per game.
He also has the ability to create for others with 4.7 assists per game. This makes him very difficult to guard as his defender has to try and stop him from beyond the 3-point line as he has so many ways of beating you. Curbing his influence will go a long way to winning this game.
Atlanta Hawks key No. 3) Key matchup – Cam Reddish vs Jaylen Brown
If the Hawks can slow Brown down as they did in the previous game then they have a much greater chance of winning. He is listed as questionable with a knee injury but if he can play, he will play. Such is his value to the fifth-placed Celtics.
The usual matchup for Brown would be De’Andre Hunter but as he is out with his own knee injury, the defensive matchup falls to Cam Reddish. The 6’8″ second-year man has been doing a solid job defensively all year and will need to step up again against the Celtics star.