It’s an Eastern Conference battle tonight as the fourteenth-ranked Hawks attempt to get a rare win against a Boston team that is finally finding its stride.
The Celtics, who had been struggling to figure out their own chemistry amid injury recovery and palpable frustration until recently, and looking for their eighth win in a row tonight–by far their longest streak of the season thus far. They have only 17 wins this season, so having won 8 of the last 9 is a huge step in the right direction–the direction they’d hoped to have reached a long time ago, but better late than never.
The Atlanta Hawks are 6-21 at the moment and are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference. They’ve had flashes of greatness–especially with rookie standout Trae Young at the head of things–and are decidedly stronger than the bottom-ranked Chicago Bulls in spite of their similar records.
As the Hawks head to Boston to face the rolling Celtics, here’s what their starting lineup will look like:
Hawks Starting Lineup Against the Boston Celtics
PG: Trae Young
SG: Kent Bazemore
SF: Kevin Huerter
PF: John Collins
C: Dewayne Dedmon
The last win that this Hawks team got was an impressive one over the #1-ranked Nuggets team. Though the Nuggets were without Paul Millsap, it was still a statement 106-98 win for the up-and-coming Atlanta team. Twenty-one-year-old John Collins led the team with an impressive 30-point performance, and DeAndre Bembry contributed 18. Though he averages 15.7 points per game, Trae Young only added 9 in his 32 minutes on the floor.
He stepped up in the team’s last game against the Mavericks though–a heartbreaking 7-point loss–and poured in a team-high 24 points. Collins again had a strong showing with 20 points and 17 rebounds, and Bazemore and Huerter added 22 and 19, respectively.
Celtics Have the Momentum
In spite of whatever promise this young Hawks team holds, they’re up against a juggernaut that is finally hitting its stride in the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were expected to be one of the top teams in the league, let along the Eastern Conference, and they’re well on their way to finally fulfilling that expectation. Marcus Morris and Kyrie Irving went off in the team’s win over the Wizards on Wednesday–Kyrie had 38 points and Morris had 27–and they were far from the only players on the team in double figures. Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum all did their thing, and the Celtics won by 5 points in Washington D.C.
The Celtics getting a win tonight will be just another step toward moving to that top spot in the East–a spot that’s currently occupied by Kawhi Leonard and the indomitable Toronto Raptors. They’re not looking back now, and they’re unlikely to take this game against the Hawks for granted. They’ll come out swinging, and it’ll be a battle for both teams as we approach the season’s pivotal midpoint.