The Atlanta Hawks likely feel fortunate to have escaped Game 1 with a victory over the Boston Celtics. That is a wild thing to say given where Mike Budenholzer and his team were at halftime of the opener, as the Hawks held a 17-point advantage in their own building. However, Boston came alive after the break, and a few troubling themes appeared before Atlanta held on for a crucial victory.
In Game 2 on Tuesday night, the Hawks do have the benefit of Boston being shorthanded, with lock-down defensive guard Avery Bradley set to miss the game, and potentially the remainder of the series, with a hamstring ailment. The Celtics were just -1 in the 15 minutes that Bradley did not play in the first match-up, but the trouble for Boston arises with a lack of depth in the backcourt, leaving Atlanta to contend with some combination of Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart (who was red-hot in Game 1) and Evan Turner as the only primary contributors.
Can the Hawks take advantage of this issue? Time will tell. Atlanta received huge contributions from Al Horford, Kent Bazemore and Jeff Teague on Saturday, but the remainder of the roster lagged considerably behind. The Celtics may be forced to play bigger lineups without Bradley available, potentially opening the door for Paul Millsap or even Kyle Korver to receive additional space, but until we see what Brad Stevens will do, it will simply be intriguing to consider the potential match-ups.
Atlanta must "hold serve" in Game 2, if only to avoid giving the Celtics increased hope. Boston must be feeling a bit stricken by the loss of Bradley and the defeat in the opening game, but if the visitors are able to escape Philips Arena with a split, it could be disastrous for the favored Hawks. It would certainly be nice if Atlanta was able to connect on more than 5 of its 27 three-point attempts (the Game 1 ratio) in the second game, but on the flip side, the defensive intensity needs to closely mirror the first half instead of the second half when compared to Saturday.
We will be here throughout the day for all the latest and firmly entrenched in the arena for Game 2 as tip-off approaches. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: TNT, Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM