By The Capital Sports Report Staff
The Boston Celtics look to take a 2-0 series lead in their first-round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, heading down south with a firm grip on the series.
Playing in Game 1, the Celtics built a massive halftime lead, outscoring the Hawks 74-44 in the first 24 minutes of the game. They put cruise control on in the second half, allowing the Hawks to close the game to a respectable margin despite still winning comfortably 112-99.
Even though they coasted to finish the game, star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown didn’t see a dip in their workload: the Jays, as the duo is known, played 40 and 37 minutes in Saturday’s win, a decent amount more than their respective averages of 36.9 and 35.9 minutes per game this season. It seems that head coach Joe Mazzulla isn’t messing around during his first postseason as the head man, and that’s something to keep in mind for prospective bettors: with a heavy workload, Tatum and Brown are all the more likely to hit the over on prop bets for stats like points, rebounds and assists.
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It’s no surprise that the Celtics are the overwhelming favorites to do it again in Game 2, listed as -600 moneyline favorites at Massachusetts BetMGM Sportsbook: they’re also the current favorites to win it all this season, listed at +300 to tie the Los Angeles Lakers with a league-record 17th championship. With the point spread hovering at -10.5 ahead of the start of play Tuesday, the bookies don’t expect a particularly close matchup. Make sure to use BetMGM Massachusetts bonus code if you want to bet on the Celtics, the Hawks, or any other sport or team this spring to ensure you’re getting the best possible odds (and promotions) on the bets you place.
Here’s a look at what went right for the Celtics and wrong for the Hawks in Game 1 of the series, and some trends for the savvy bettor to keep an eye on as the first round continues to play out.
The Hawks made just 17.2 percent (5-of-29) of their three-point attempts in Game 1, including a 2-for-24 margin in the first 36 minutes of the game. The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams in the entire NBA, and with the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year on the court in 29-year-old guard Marcus Smart, it’s going to be tough for the Hawks to get a spark from beyond the arc.
That said, a 17.2 three-point percentage is abnormally low, and it won’t stay like that forever, even in a hostile environment like the Celtics’ TD Garden: the Hawks made 35.2 percent of their three-point attempts during the regular season, so you can expect their shooting percentage to tick up a bit in Game 2.
Atlanta point guard Trae Young is +135 to hit the over (1.5 three-pointers made), and that’s a decent bet to take if you’re looking to spice up the odds on a parlay. Young scored just 16 points on Saturday, going 5-of-18 (1-for-5 from 3). He’s faced a lot of scrutiny for failing to live up to the lofty expectations Hawks’ fans had when they acquired him in a draft day trade.
Young has shown that he can step up his game in the clutch (he helped carry the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, with the team coming undone against the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks after Young missed a pair of games with an ankle injury), so it’s not like he’s a player who can’t step it up under the bright lights.
The Celtics looked unstoppable at times in the first game of the series, but that doesn’t mean they played a flawless game. The fact that they let the Hawks back into the game even with Tatum and Brown on the court doesn’t inspire confidence: it’s not as if Atlanta keyed a big comeback against Boston’s bench.
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Brown missed the final two games of the regular season with a hand laceration. It obviously wasn’t bad enough to keep him out of a playoff game (and he even led the team with 29 points), but he aggravated the injury during Game 1, saying after the game that the cut “split open” while he was on the court, making it difficult to grip the ball.
He’s been cleared to play in Game 2, but as he’s still a bit banged up, his point total (-27.5) might be a good pick for the under, especially if the Celtics can build up another big lead and give him some time off.
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