Aided by their home-court advantage, the Atlanta Hawks took a commanding 2-0 lead in their series with the Boston Celtics. But after two big performances by Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have stormed back to tie the series at 2 games a piece.
One game after scoring 45 points, Thomas poured in another 28 to help Boston win Game 4 by a score of 104-95 (OT). Interestingly enough, Paul Millsap scored 45 points in the Hawks’ losing effort. Given these explosive performances, we expect more to come as the series continues tomorrow night.
So far, this has proven to be the most-entertaining and physical of this year’s first-round series. These teams match up pretty well, and they have already developed some animosity towards each other. So which club has the edge going into Game 5? See here as we analyse both teams’ chances of winning as well as who you should bet on.
GTBets.eu line for Game 5 (Apr 26 at 8:30pm EST)
Atlanta -7 (-110)
Why the Celtics will win
When Boston lost the first two games and Avery Bradley went out with a hamstring injury, many wondered if they could contend with the Hawks. Even after winning the third game, Boston was down 62-46 in Game 4 before mounting a comeback.
Bottom line, this team doesn’t quit, and the series is tied at 2-2 as a result. This should serve the Celtics well as they will continue to be in close ballgames since two out of the (possible) three remaining contests are at Atlanta.
Besides obvious heart, Boston has a clear-cut star in Thomas who will take important shots. This doesn’t seem to be the case for Atlanta, who has never figured out which of its stars will take crunch-time shots.
Yet another benefit for the Celtics is that they’re a scrappy defensive team. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Evan Turner and Amir Johnson are all strong defenders who can lock down opponents. Smart, in particular, was crucial in slowing down Millsap after he got off to a blazing start last game.
Why the Hawks will win
While the series may be tied, Atlanta still has home-court advantage and a strong chance to win this series. Philips Arena has been good to the Hawks so far since they grabbed a one-point victory in the first contest followed by a 17-point win – the only blowout of this series.
Another point worth making is that Atlanta just didn’t make the shots they’re capable of making in Game 4. Outside of Millsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore all had very poor shooting efforts. Al Horford, meanwhile, took just two shots in 38 minutes.
Part of this is the Celtics tough defense, but part of it is just that Atlanta didn’t play as well as they can offensively. Assuming they get back on track in Game 5, this could be a long night for Boston.
Finally, while the Celtics have strong defenders at every position, Atlanta also has firepower at every position. If you focus your efforts on stopping Horford, then Teague or Millsap can beat you. If you focus on stopping Millsap, then Korver or Schroder could hurt you. This team is good all over the court and should regain control of the series in the fifth game.
Prediction for Hawks vs Celtics Game 5
NBA Playoffs history tells us that the team with a 2-0 lead wins the series 94% of the time. Obviously Atlanta no longer has this lead, but they do have home-court advantage and will no doubt make some adjustments for Game 5. We think that it’ll be enough to win the fifth contest, but we don’t see them covering the -7 spread.
Final Score Prediction: Atlanta 101 – Boston 97
Betting Advice: There’s only a one-point margin separating these two teams through the first four games. Don’t expect the Hawks to win this contest by over seven points.