Somehow we managed to sweat Thursday’s loss, which was the very first game of DeMarcus Cousins’ underwhelming new stint with the New Orleans Pelicans. The Rockets were scoring three at a time but the Pels were so dysfunctional on offense that it actually took two three’s in the last minute of garbage time to bury us. We’re back on the second-to-last night of NBA basketball this non-Leap February. The Celtics are defending the Garden against the Atlanta Hawks.
Lotta reasons to like Boston tonight and it starts with a quick look at Atlanta’s last three games. The Hawks were buried by 15 against the Clippers without CP3 right before the break. Since they came back they’ve lost by 18 at home to Miami and 19 in Orlando. So the Hawks are struggling. Their lack of shooters outside make tonight’s matchup against the Celtics rather challenging and, for good measure, Boston did win the first matchup between these two teams in Atlanta.
Avery Bradley is still out, but Jaylen Brown‘s versatility on the outside has remedied that problem for the last couple weeks. He’s not getting rookie hype, but Brown looks like he’s going to develop into an upper-echelon NBA starter. His four-point play from the corner was the shot of the night across the league last night. His ability to guard smaller players and space the floor gives Boston a different look than with Bradley. He and Crowder are bigger on the wings and the Celtics don’t lose much in any particular area. They won’t get Andrew Bogut so it looks like Amir Johnson will stay next to Horford when Al needs reinforcement. He may not tonight against Atlanta though. If not, Boston should be able to spread the Hawks out.
The Celts looks like they’ll run with Toronto and Washington all the way until one emerges as the one with the chance to take the Eastern Conference trophy from the Cavaliers. This is one they should put away.
Free Pick: C’s -4.5