Apr 14, 2023 - Sports

Hawks prepare to face Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs

An NBA players stands next to a man during a game

Quinn Snyder and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks look on against the Miami Heat. Photo by Eric Espada/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks are returning to the playoffs for the third season in a row.

What's happening: The Hawks beat the Miami Heat Tuesday night in their play-in game to secure the No. 7 seed in the East. Next up, the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics — defending Eastern Conference champions.

  • Game 1 is Saturday at 3:30pm and game 2 is set for Tuesday at 7pm.

By the numbers: Atlanta was the picture of mediocrity this year, finishing with 41 wins and 41 losses.

  • They went 24-17 at home and 17-24 on the road. And it gets even better: They averaged 118 points per game while giving up… 118 points per game.

What we're watching: Whether the Hawks can beat the Celtics even once. The two teams played three times this year and Boston won all three — including two in Atlanta.

  • In order to win the Hawks have to make three-point shots. In their three games this season Boston made 66 threes to the Hawks' 28.

Ross' thought bubble: The Celtics have owned this matchup dating back to the 80s with 'Nique vs. Bird, then Joe Johnson and Co. vs. Paul Pierce, KG and Ray Allen. But now it's Trae Young vs. Jayson Tatum.

  • I am a delusional enough Atlanta fan to think the Hawks can upset the Celtics. Their best chance will be stealing Game 1, and defending home court from there.
  • My prediction: Hawks win in 7.

Reality check: Atlanta probably doesn't have a real chance. Boston is as complete of a team as they come and their strengths are the Hawks' weaknesses.

  • The outsiders say: Boston wins in 5…maybe 4.

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