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The Hawks won Game Three 130-122
The Celtics are shooting 43% from the three in the series
Trae Young’s future in Atlanta is hanging in the balance
The Atlanta Hawks look to even the series up against the Boston Celtics at home Sunday when the two Eastern Conference foes meet for Game Four.
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The Hawks showed sustained signs of life for the first time in the series. They got out to a hot start and entered halftime leading 74-67 and slammed the door on a would-be comeback in the fourth quarter. Trae Young had his first great game in the series and brought them home in the dire moments like a true superstar should.
The Hawks’ impressive performance was mostly due to their offensive improvement. They shot series bests from the field and from three and finally did not look timid whenever they had the ball. Part of that could be playing at home, and part of it could be desperation facing a potential 3-0 hole, but there was no denying what played out.
Despite that, the Celtics were also very effective on offense and continue to look like the scariest team in the conference. The Hawks still don’t have the defensive matchups to counter Boston's high-octane offense and will need to keep winning shootouts to stay alive.
Young roared back to life after struggling in the first two games (plus five games in a gentleman’s sweep in the first round of the 2022 playoffs) with 30 points, nine assists and six rebounds. His backcourt mate, Dejounte Murray, continued his steady play with 25 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, and Jalen Johnson combined for 40 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists off the bench.
On the other side, Jayson Tatum once again led the way with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, while his co-star, Jaylen Brown, was limited to 15 points. Brown has struggled to get his offense going in this series despite nearly all of his teammates finding theirs.
The Celtics made an interesting decision to reinstate Grant Williams into the rotation off the bench and lengthen the rotation from eight to nine players. He rewarded coach Joe Mazzulla’s trust and provided 14 points on 4-4 shooting from downtown.
Atlanta was much better at home than on the road during the regular season and has continued that trend in the playoffs. Normally it’s just the role players that step it up in their home arena, but Young looked like a totally different player back in familiar territory.
While a Game Three win saves the Hawks the embarrassment of a potential sweep, there still seems to be very little hope of them winning the series. They cannot stop the Celtics on defense and tied their mark for third-most threes made in a game in the recent win, which is an unsustainable formula moving forward.
Whichever team wins the series will go on to play the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semifinals. Philly already swept the Brooklyn Nets out of the playoffs and is now resting, which means that the winner of this series is already behind. Assuming Boston wins, they will want to get it done as quickly as possible so they aren’t too disadvantaged in the next round.
The Celtics will win if they continue to do what they have done on offense and can hold the Hawks under 40% from three, which is not that great of an ask. The pressure they put on the basket while simultaneously demanding attention on the perimeter is just too much for the Hawks, and only miracle shooting nights (or terrible shooting nights for Boston) will slow them down.
As harsh as it sounds, the Hawks don’t have a schematic way to victory. There are simply too many mismatches, and they also don’t have much familiarity with Quin Snyder’s system since he was only appointed a couple of months ago. Atlanta has to go full-on bombs away from three and hope they make at least 15, if not more, to steal another victory.
Celtics spread, plain and simple. Their offense is flat-out cooking and they are the better team in every way. Young has to be Superman on offense just to cancel out the negative effects of his defensive woes, and the Celtics’ supporting cast is much more reliable than the Hawks’.
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
When: 7:00 p.m. ET. Sunday, April 23
Streaming: YouTube TV, Hulu, Sling, etc.
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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