Game: Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Odds: Celtics -6.5, Hawks +6.5
The Atlanta Hawks return home with renewed vigor and the addition of a key player, confident that victory in Game 6 tonight will even their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
Dejounte Murray, the Hawks starting guard and the team’s second-leading scorer, was suspended for one game after bumping a referee at the conclusion of Game 4 and did not play in Atlanta’s 119-117 victory in Boston on Tuesday. The win trimmed Boston’s series advantage to 3-2 and kept the Hawks alive. Atlanta would need to win to force a decisive Game 7 at Boston on Saturday.
The Celtics are making an effort to not dwell on the setback too much. Jaylen Brown scored 35 points in the loss. He has averaged 35.6 points per game in the series thus far. His teammate, Jayson Tatum, only scored 19. Tatum has a career playoff scoring average of 28.5 points per game. He’ll need to step up his game if Boston is going to end the series tonight.
Atlanta guard Trae Young hit the game-winning three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in Game 5. Young received the inbound pass with 7.3 seconds left, faked a drive, and then stepped well behind the 3-point line for a 30-footer over Brown. Young is the type of player who thrives in those situations.
Young scored 38 points in Game 5, making it three games in a row where he scored at least 32 points and 11 playoff games overall where he scored at least 30 points. He participated in the entire second half (24 minutes) and played 44 of a possible 48 minutes. Head coach Quin Snyder knows how valuable Young is and wanted him on the floor at key times in the game.
With Murray back, Snyder should have more flexibility with substitutions. So far in the postseason, Murray averages 25.3 points and 5.8 assists per game. At Atlanta, the teams split the first two games of the series. Game 3 was won by the Hawks 130–122, but Game 4 went to Boston 129–121.
Boston defeated the Hawks twice in Atlanta and won all three games of their regular-season matchup. That gives Boston an 8-2 SU record against the Hawks in the last 10 meetings. The Celtics are also 8-2 ATS in those 10 games. Atlanta has only beaten Boston at home in four of the last 12 tries.
The last three straight games have gone Over the total. The Celtics and Hawks played on the last day of the regular season, making it six games in a row. Four of those six have gone Over the total. Both teams are top-5 scoring teams in the NBA. The Hawks (118.2) are third and Boston (118.1) are fourth.
The total has gone Over in eight of Atlanta’s last 11 games. The total has also gone Over in each of the Hawks last five home games and in five of the last seven games against Boston. Over the last ten games between the two teams, Boston and Atlanta have averaged a combined 229.9 points per game. Over the last three, that number balloons to 246.
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