Monday, December 30, 2013
W2W4: Celtics vs. Hawks (Game 31 of 82)
By Chris Forsberg
The Boston Celtics (13-17, 8-8 home) host the Atlanta Hawks (17-14, 5-10 away) in a New Year's Eve matinee on Tuesday at TD Garden (1 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
- NEW-LOOK HAWKS: The Hawks lost center Al Horford recently to a torn pectoral muscle and Brad Stevens noted that's caused them to be even more 3-pointer happy than they typically are. For the season, 3-pointers account for 29.8 percent of Atlanta's field goal attempts (fifth highest in the league). Over the last two games, that number is a staggering 45.3 percent of their total attempts. "Shooting a ton of 3s," Stevens said of the Horford-less Hawks. Later he added, "And they shoot them well. In the last five games, [Paul] Millsap has averaged five shots per game from beyond the arc, [Mike] Scott’s shot 30 times beyond the arc. I mean, they are all shooting, and they are all shooting well and they are all shooting with confidence. I think Coach [Mike] Budenholzer has done a great job with that group all the way through, instilling confidence and instilling idea of ball-movers. They don’t hang onto the ball very long. They keep that ball moving and the best example of that is [Kyle] Korver, because he either catches and shoots, or catches and delivers. But I tell you what, they’ve got a very unselfish, very well put-together team."
- SPEAKING OF STREAKING KORVER: Korver's NBA record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer reached the century mark the other night. Gushed Stevens: "Kudos to him, what an unbelievable streak. That thing gets tested each time he misses one. It gets tested on the road because no one wants him to hit one, and it gets tested at home because everybody goes, ‘[Gasp], what’s going to happen if he misses another one?’ It’s unbelievable mental toughness to achieve what he’s done." Asked if he'd like to break Korver's streak, Stevens said, "Don’t care where the streak happens, I just want to play well enough to end up on the right side of the [win] column." The Celtics have slipped to fifth in the league in 3-point defense (opponents shooting 33.8 percent beyond the arc).
- COACH'S SCOUTING REPORT: Here's more Stevens on the Hawks: "First of all, they have multiple elite scoring guards -- Lou Williams is averaging 17 per game in his last five games and is back from the ACL and playing more, because [DeMarre] Carroll is not on the trip. Korver is a really really difficult assignment for anybody in the league, because if you take a breath, you’re dead. And then [Jeff] Teague is playing at such a high level. Then their bench is playing -- obviously I’m biased towards one of those guys [Shelvin Mack] because he played for me in college [at Butler] -- but they are all making shots and they are all shooting it well and they are all playing well."
- WHAT ELSE?: If the Celtics need extra motivation there's this: The Celtics are set to get the better of the draft picks between the Nets and Hawks this season. Every Atlanta loss might aid one of Boston's picks in June. ... Stevens compared Williams to Rondo, particularly with both working their ways back from ACL injuries. "I’ve known him for a long time and watched him play and always thought extremely high of his ability. And just his mental grit. And I think he’s got a lot of that. A lot like Rondo. I think they are competitive guys, they are tough-minded guys. I think it’s a positive to see him continuing to play as well as he is, the more comfortable he gets. But he’s been great the last five games." ... Jared Sullinger's take on Atlanta without Horford: "I think it's going to affect them big time. That was an 18 and 9 guy, so now they're making it up collectively between Mike Scott, Paul Millsap and Elton Brand, and they’re playing really well. And Teague is playing out of his mind right now for the past couple of games. We've just got to break their rhythm."
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