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Hawks vs Celtics: Atlanta wings will be tested against Boston

The first round series between the Hawks and Celtics will include a number of interesting matchups on the wing.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

While the point guard battle will be intriguing, a lot of the battle between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics will be fought on the wing.

Injuries slowed the start of the season for Atlanta's Kyle Korver and he appears to have lost a step along the way as well. Korver's shooting percentages rebounded in the second half of the season, but teams have been successful in taking him away and limiting his opportunities on many nights.

Korver figures to see a lot of defensive attention in this series and the Hawks will need to find a way to use that to their advantage. Korver averaged 10.5 points in the four games against the Celtics but knocked down 8 of 15 three-point attempts.

Boston can throw a number of looks at him and have three more than capable wing defenders in Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and even Jae Crowder.

Korver is a good enough defender to stay on the floor even if he isn't getting looks offensively, but if Atlanta's offense sputters, then Budenholzer may be left searching for answers.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is the only question mark facing the Hawks as they enter the postseason. Hardaway suffered what was called a strained hamstring in the season finale in Washington. The Hawks didn't practice on Thursday and Hardaway's status for Game 1 is unknown.

After being a non-factor for the first half of the season, Hardaway settled into the rotation and watched his role expand with the Hawks. Since the All-Star break, he is shooting 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from the three-point line. If he is unable to play then the Hawks will be missing one of their biggest offensive threats off the bench.

The biggest question mark entering the season for the Atlanta Hawks was who would replace the departed DeMarre Carroll at the small forward position. Kent Bazemore became the emphatic answer and figures to play a pivotal role for the team in the post season.

Bazemore improved across the board this season and adds to Atlanta's defensive versatility. Expect to see him teamed with Thabo Sefolosha in certain alignments and to draw the defensive assignment against Thomas in key stretches of the series.

While Thomas might be the most recognizable Celtics name, Jae Crowder might be the most important player on their roster. Hawks fans looking for a comparison for Crowder should look no further than that of Carroll. Crowder can knock down shots from the perimeter, mix it up inside and guard multiple positions. His versatility affords Brad Stevens the opportunity to play big or small. If the Celtics pull off an upset in this series, you can bet that Crowder is going to be a major reason why.

The Hawks have some good options on the wing in Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr. (if healthy), but the Celtics appear to have even more. It is going to be really interesting to watch the chess match between Mike Budenholzer and Brad Stevens play out among the wing match-ups.