Atlanta Hawks (6-2 SU, 7-1 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (8-1 SU, 5-4 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, November 13, 2009, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hawks +8.5/Celtics -8.5
Bet this game at a sportsbook that offers reduced juice basketball betting: 5Dimes.
Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference face off in a Friday night ESPN contest, as the Boston Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks.
The Celtics have proven to be an elite NBA team this season. Not many teams, if any, can match up with the starting five for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are all among the best players at their respective positions. Kendrick Perkins gives the Celtics some bulk in the middle, and Rasheed Wallace comes off the bench as a low post threat and a dangerous 3-point shooter.
The Hawks are one of the fastest, most athletic teams in the league. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford make up a fabulous foursome that can actually compete with Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett.
In the Hawks’ last game, a 114-101 win at the Knicks, the Hawks outscored them 37-23 in the third quarter and 67-47 in the second half. Bibby, Johnson, Horford and Smith each scored at least 19 points in the win. Like the Celtics have Wallace off the bench, the Hawks have Jamal Crawford, who had 11 points against the Knicks. Maurice Evans also scored in double figures off the bench with 12 points.
Also on Wednesday, the Celtics defeated the Jazz, 105-86. All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Garnett’s 18 points. Plus, Wallace and Marquis Daniels were both in double figures off the bench.
Rondo, who had 14 points and 11 assists against the Jazz, is averaging 11 points and 9.2 assists per game this season. He has become as important as any player on the Celtics. Garnett is averaging a modest 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, but the Celtics are just happy that Garnett is healthy and able to play. Allen is averaging 14.8 points per game, and Pierce is leading the team with 18.1 points per game to go along with his 5.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
As evident by the statistics listed above, the Celtics haven’t been scoring a ton of points. They’ve been winning games on defense. The Celtics have only allowed more than 90 points in a game once this season, and that was in their lone loss of the season, a 110-103 loss to the high-scoring Suns.
Johnson is leading the Hawks in scoring with 21 points per game. Crawford, who comes off the bench, is second on the team with 17.3 points per game. Smith has been the best all-around player for the Hawks. He is third in scoring with 16 points per game, second in rebounding with 7.3 per game, and tied for first with Bibby in assists with 4.4 per game. Horford is scoring 13.5 points per game leading the team in rebounds with 10.5 per game.
The Celtics have great defense, but the Hawks are a team that can score points. It usually comes down to how well the Hawks can play defense. These two teams match up pretty well. The toughest matchup for the Celtics will be whoever guards Smith. Garnett should end up defending Smith, and Garnett should be able to stick with him for the most part. Horford has an offensive advantage over Perkins, but the two big men will battle hard down low. If Pierce and Marvin Williams are guarding each other, Pierce will have a strong advantage on both ends of the floor.
The Celtics have won their last five games against the Hawks. The total has gone over in seven of the last nine games between these two teams. The Hawks are 7-1 ATS this season. The total has gone over in five of Atlanta’s last six games.
Ryno’s Pick: The Hawks played terrific in the second half against the Knicks on Wednesday, and if they carry over that momentum they have a good chance to win this game. It’s tough to beat the Celtics, especially in Boston, but the Hawks match up relatively well with them. And don’t forget the seven-game series between these teams in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. The Celtics like to keep games low-scoring, but the higher scoring the better chance the Hawks have to win this game. This game has a much better chance of coming down to the wire than the Celtics winning by double digits. Take the Hawks +8.5.