Tonight is Game 1 of the first round match-up between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. Coming into the series there are two key injuries that are worth noting. Ray Allen is a game-time decision and he has acknowledged that his ankle will need surgery at the end of the season. For the Hawks, their starting center Al Horford will most likely be out for the series.
Starting Five’s: The Celtics starters will most likely be PG Rajon Rondo, SG Avery Bradley, SF Paul Pierce, PF Brandon Bass, and C Kevin Garnett. The Hawks will counter with PG Jeff Teague, SG Kirk Hinrich, SF Joe Johnson, PF Josh Smith, C Zaza Pachulia. I give the Celtics the edge with the better starting lineup. They have more size and more scoring options. If Al Horford was able to play this series, it may have been a different story.
The Bench: If Allen can’t play, the Celtics bench doesn’t look as good but I think Allen can provide just enough to make an impact. In the playoffs, most teams use an 8 man rotation which means only three bench players will most likely be used. Besides Allen, the other two bench players for the C’s will most likely be Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma. The Hawks bench players will probably be Tracy McGrady, Marvin Williams, and Jason Collins. They may use more players due to the loss of Horford. If Allen is healthy enough to play, I give the edge to Boston but if he can’t, I’d call the match-up a push.
Prediction: I have the Celtics winning the series in 6 games. I see the Hawks lack of size being the main reason them losing the series. I also don’t see the Hawks having enough consistent scoring options to stay with the Celtics. Boston is well rested and should be ready for what the Hawks throw at them.