Boston -8 at Atlanta O/U 204.5
The Celtics lost Gordon Hayward five minutes into the season. Boston lost on opening night, then lost the following night at home to Milwaukee. The betting markets immediately devalued Boston; a team with a whole host of new faces just learning to play with one another. That was a mistake!
Head coach Brad Stevens has worked his magic. The Celtics haven’t lost since that defeat to the Bucks on the second night of the season. That includes road wins, by margin, at Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Miami, Orlando and OKC; all of whom are better than the bottom feeder Hawks team they’ll face today.
The Celtics enter Sunday with the #1defense in the NBA, allowing fewer than 96 points per 100 possessions. That’s bad news for a Hawks team that ranks #26 in offensive efficiency this season. Other than veteran point guard Dennis Schroder, this is not a team loaded with playmakers. When the Hawks aren’t draining three’s, they’re a rough team to watch (or bet on). And, frankly, not many teams are draining three’s against this stout Boston defense these days.
The Celtics are set up extremely well for the second night of back-to-backs. No starter reached 30 minutes against the Magic yesterday, and 13 different players saw the floor, leaving them relatively fresh here. That stands in sharp contrast to the Hawks level of freshness this evening.
Atlanta is coming off an outright upset at Cleveland yesterday, a big win for a VERY young basketball team. They barely hung on to their double digit lead during crunch time – intense minutes. Head coach Mike Budenholzer went with an eight man rotation in that upset, with four starters on the wrong side of 30+ minutes. They’re both fat and happy off a signature win and relatively tired; unable to get the job done in either previous back-to-back spot this season. Road chalk worth laying!