The Boston Celtics head to Atlanta to take on the Hawks. Both teams have been playing better as of late. They both need to because they are low in the standings in the Eastern Conference. Which team can continue their winning streak and be the winning NBA pick? Let’s break down the NBA odds.
Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
Friday, January 28, 2022- 7:30 PM EST at State Farm Arena
Boston Celtics have won two in a row to improve their record to 25-24 on the year. They will hit the road to take on the Hawks. Boston has not been impressive on the road so far this season, going 9-14.
They hope to turn that around and continue their good recent play. They are 7-3 over their last 10. They have a positive point differential of +3.1 for the season. The Celtics are coming off their most dominant win of the season, a 53-point win over the woeful Sacramento Kings.
Jayson Tatum scored 36 points and Jaylen Brown had 30 points and 10 rebounds. Both players put up impressive statistics and didn't even play in the fourth quarter. However, the Kings are one of the worst teams in the league. They will face a much sterner challenge against the Hawks tonight.
Boston coach Ime Udoka has received criticism for the team's fall in the standings. There are high expectations for this rookie coach in his first job as the head man. Udoka does deserve his share of criticism, but we should also give him some praise too.
Udoka has done an excellent job of drawing up plays off of timeouts. In the ATO (after a timeout) setting, Udoka averages 1.14 points per possession. This is the fourth-best in the NBA and ranks ahead of great coaches such as Steve Kerr and Erik Spoelstra.
This shows that Udoka has plenty of potential to grow into his role as the head coach of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have been lifted by the return of Marcus Smart. Marcus Smart means so much to the team even if he does not always put up impressive statistics.
Smart is the Celtics' best defender and he also provides the Celtics with an aggressive competitive attitude. Smart will not back down from anyone and his competitive nature is contagious to the team.
Like the Celtics, the Hawks are also coming off a dominant win over the Sacramento Kings. The win was the Hawks' fifth win in a row. In the win, the Atlanta bench outscored Sacramento's bench 70-24. The Hawks' ability to score off the bench was fueled by moving Bogdan Bogdanovic to the “Sixth Man” role.
Bogdanovic provides catch-and-shoot scoring and shot creation off the bench. Both the Hawks and Bogdanovic seem to thrive with him in his new role. After a slow start, the Hawks are trying to find the form that propelled them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Another bright spot in the Hawks win was that they had no players on the injury report for the game. The Hawks do not have any players on tonight’s injury report either. The Hawks are finally healthy and the results are showing.
They also have plenty of work to do. At 22-25, they are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference. This is after finishing 5th in the conference last season. Also, the Hawks started slow and picked up after the All-Star break. The Hawks are hoping to do it again and head into the playoffs riding winning momentum.
Marcus Smart vs. Trae Young
Marcus Smart's defensive intensity carries onto the whole Boston team. Smart will have a tough assignment tonight against Trae Young, who can score even against the best of defenders. Smart is an excellent perimeter defender and can make opponents uncomfortable with his physical style of defense.
Smart will not be able to completely shut down Young, but if he's able to slow them down, make him work, and make him feel uncomfortable, the Celtics will have a great chance of getting the victory. If Trae Young is able to have a big game against Smart's stellar defense, the Hawks have a good chance of victory.
The Hawks are playing at a high level right now, similar to how they ended last season. Moving Bogdan Bogdanovic to the bench has helped the second unit immensely. The Hawks team is no longer cruising through games, but showing defensive intensity again.
The Hawks were overconfident to start the year, now they are treating the regular season with respect. The Celtics have been very inconsistent this year, and I feel much better backing the Hawks. For my best bets, today’s play of the day is the Atlanta Hawks -2 (-115).
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