For most of game five, it looked like the chances of Atlanta forcing a game six were slim, but after one Trae Young takeover, here we are. The teams will be back in Atlanta tonight, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-half bet in this one.
At one point in game five, the Boston Celtics had their biggest lead of 13 points, and everyone was preparing to preview their series against the Sixers, but after a four-quarter collapse, they find themselves having to play at least one more game. Boston was outscored 37-25 in the fourth quarter and lost on a last-second deep three to give him 38 points for the game.
Atlanta looked outmatched on the offensive end for the first two games in the series, but over the next three games, something clicked for them. The Hawks managed to produce on the offensive end without Dejounte Murray in game five as they scored 119 points, giving them the second-best offensive efficiency rating amongst playoff teams over the past three games.
Boston was one of the best teams at defending the three during the regular season, and through the first two games, those numbers carried over into the playoffs. During the last three games, however, the Celtics are 15th out of 16 playoff teams in opponent three-point percentage, as Atlanta shot 46% from deep in game five.
Offensively, the Celtics will be looking for a better shooting from Jayson Tatum, who went 8-21 from the field and 1-10 from deep in game five. Boston’s offense still managed to produce even with the struggles, as they had a (120.6) offensive efficiency rating, so the true emphasis tonight will need to be on the defensive end and getting back to running shooters off the three-point line.
The Celtics are currently listed as (-3.5) point favorites in the first half of this one, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Boston has been stellar in the first half this series, as their NET rating of 20 ranks first amongst the 16 playoff teams. The Celtics have gone into halftime with a lead in four out of the five games played up to this point. The fact that the game is on the road should not matter too much either since Boston is still 3rd in 1H NET rating when playing on the road this series.
Boston has the best effective field goal and true shooting percentages in the first half this series, while Atlanta is 9th and 10th in those categories, respectively. The Hawks are letting Boston shoot 46% from three in the first half of this series, and they are also allowing the most points per paint per game in the first half.
The defensive regression over the past three games for Boston has been concerning, but even in those games, they still have the better 1H NET rating. The first time Boston lost a game this series, they responded by going into halftime of the next game with a 12-point lead, and I expect a similar start to this game tonight.
Boston Celtics 1H (-3.5)