We are in uncharted territory with the Atlanta Hawks at the moment. The team has won a franchise record nine consecutive road games, Mike Budenholzer is resting players, and the "hottest team in the league" designation is firmly assigned to Atlanta. On Wednesday, the team continues a four-game, five-night road trip in Boston, and the Celtics await.
The Celtics are in a very weird spot at the moment, and that is an interesting backdrop for this game. Boston has jettisoned its two most important players in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green via trade, and as a result, Danny Ainge has left his team with a decent nucleus of young pieces but nothing approaching overwhelming talent on a nightly basis.
Boston is just 13-23 on the season, but if you believe their advanced metrics, the Celtics should be considerably better than that. The team is just -1.3 points per 100 possessions worse than their opponents, and under Brad Stevens, they are basically in the middle of the pack in both offense and defense.
Still, this is a team that the Hawks are simply better than right now. Jared Sullinger is probably the player that would most concern Atlanta's defense, and he is coming off a 27-point, 10-rebound performance in an unexpected win over New Orleans. With that on the table, the Celtics aren't better than Atlanta at any position on the floor, and even in a road back-to-back situation, this is a game that the Hawks should win if they play B-plus basketball for 48 minutes.
It will be interesting to see if Coach Bud elects to give Kyle Korver and Al Horford any rest here, as they were the only starters to participate in Philly. Given the nature of the ugly back-to-back against the top of the East over the weekend, Wednesday would be the time to do it, but Budenholzer is likely to keep that close to the vest for as long as possible. Either way, we should be in for an entertaining match-up.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, January 14, 8 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM