Boston Celtics backup point guard Terry Rozier and fellow reserves Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele are questionable for today’s game against the Hawks because they’re battling an unspecified illness.
The Celtics were able to overcome a 17-point first-half deficit to beat the Kings 126-120 last Thursday without Rozier, Theis and Yabusele but being so shorthanded again will certainly put an added strain on their top players.
Boston is in the middle game of a three-in-five days stretch and with Denver on deck for Monday night and from a workload standpoint, finding rest for players like Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Al Horford is very important.
The C’s have won four of their last five games and they’re just two games behind the Sixers for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Celtics Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Clippers
*Notates expected starter
C: Al Horford*, Aron Baynes
PF: Marcus Morris*, Robert Williams III
SF: Jayson Tatum*, Semi Ojeleye
SG: Marcus Smart*, Gordon Hayward
PG: Kyrie Irving*, Jaylen Brown
The Hawks have had a hard time stopping Kyrie Irving. He scored 32 points in the most recent meeting, a 113-105 win in Atlanta on January 19 and he’s averaging 25.6 points and 5.9 assists in 23 career games against the Hawks.
Irving had 31 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds against the Kings, becoming the first Celtics player to record 30+ points and a triple-double in the same game since Rajon Rondo on February 12, 2012 against the Bulls.
It was Irving’s second career triple-double and his first since February 28, 2014 against the Jazz (when he was with the Cavaliers).
Jaylen Brown stepped up when the Celtics needed him last Thursday, helping spark their comeback. He finished with 22 points off the bench in 32 minutes, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range and now he has 44 points in his last two games while making 6 of 9 3-pointers.
Marcus Morris is another player to watch against the Hawks, finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds in 36 minutes against the Kings, reaching the 20-point mark for the 10th time this season (first since January 9 against the Pacers).
The Hawks come to Boston with a poor 11-24 road record this season and the Celtics won the three meetings with them but this is a surging team that has two straight wins, including Wednesday’s 132-111 home victory against the Grizzlies.
Atlanta is averaging 123.6 points in 11 games since the All-Star break to lead the NBA over that stretch and they’ve scored 120 points or more in seven of those contests, so Boston needs to make a solid effort on the defensive end of the floor.
Second-year forward John Collins and rookie point guard Trae Young have exceeded expectations this season, Collins is averaging 19.9 points and 9.8 rebounds and he has 28 double-doubles while Young averages 18.3 points and 7.8 assists while making 33.3 percent of this 3-pointers.
The Celtics also have to keep an eye on rookie guard Kevin Huerter, who has given the Hawks their best 3-point scoring threat since Kyle Korver, shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 9.6 points per game.