It’s official, the #2 Boston Celtics will go up against the #7 Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. And although the C’s are expected to ease by the Hawks, sports is an unpredictable rollercoaster.
But let’s be real, the Celtics will most likely win the series fairly quickly. But a sweep will be the most important thing for Boston so they can get rest before the second round of the playoffs. We saw last year what two consecutive seven-game series could do to a team in the finals.
Here’s what’s needed to execute a 4-0 sweep over the Hawks.
Play physical defense
When it comes to playoff basketball, the game slows down a lot on every possession. And for the Hawks, they have a few good guards in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray that can shoot and use their quickness to get to the basket. So for the C’s, it’s important that guards think twice before entering the paint.
We saw in the play-in tournament how the Hawks beat the Heat, they rebounded better than Miami. It’s up to Al Horford, Rob Williams and Grant Williams to make contact anytime a Hawks jersey comes inside the paint. As far as guards go, Marcus Smart will have to really guard up against Trae Young. Which brings me to my next point.
Keep Trae Young as only a scorer
Trae Young is a star, we can’t deny that. He’s going to get his buckets and the Celtics know that. Young can shoot from anywhere on the floor, drive to the basket, has a nice floater, knocks down free throws, and just overall gets buckets. But that’s just it, the C’s need to keep him to a scoring point guard only.
This regular season Young averaged 26 points and 10 assists. And although Smart can play good on-ball defense, he can’t hold Young. But the other Hawks players on the team can be locked down. The front court of the Hawks has some talent. Bogdan Bogdanović and John Collins are both good, but they aren’t physical and play better off the ball. That’s where Young typically comes in as a passer.
If the C’s can hold Young to five assists a game then the C’s can pull off a sweep. Nobody else is going to put up 30 on a healthy Celtics team.
Malcolm Brogdon needs to be a consistent offensive threat
He might only be averaging 14 points a night, but Brogdon is the key to the Celtics getting over that finals hump. He’s a guy that can come off the bench and score 20 a night. That’s something they missed last season and also something the Hawks don’t have.
We can talk about the talent of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown all day and that nobody on the Hawks can guard them, but it’s the second unit that will help them pull away in games. Brogdon is the answer offensively to winning four consecutive games.