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Celtics-Hawks Game 3 Preview

The Hawks protected its home court. Can the Celtics turn the series around in Boston?

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The Boston Celtics head back to Massachusetts hoping a little home cooking will get them back on track. The Atlanta Hawks head to Boston looking to deliver the decisive knockout blow in Game 3 in order to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the teams’ first-round playoff series.

The Hawks took a 2-0 series lead over Boston on Tuesday night after holding the Celtics to 72 points on a woeful 32 percent shooting from the floor. Boston connected on only 5-28 (18 percent) from three-point range on a night, while Atlanta’s Kyle Korver connected on five three-point buckets of his own.

Playing in their first game without guard Avery Bradley, who will likely miss the rest of the series, the Celtics’ backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart combined to shoot a horrendous 5-26 from the field for a combined 19 points.

Heading back to Boston for Game 3, the Celtics should not be counted out just yet. However, the team has now lost five straight games to Atlanta counting the regular season, so it’s now or never for the Celtics to figure out how to counter the Hawks.

Atlanta looked like a totally different team in Game 2. The Hawks’ offense thrives on proper floor spacing for their shooters and after hitting just 5-26 three-pointers in Game 1, they rebounded to knock down 11-29 in Game 2 with All-Star center Al Horford chipping in three of his own.

With Bradley out, the Celtics need forward Jae Crowder to step up. Crowder is arguably Boston’s second-best player, but the veteran forward scored just two points in 35 minutes of action in Game 2.

Prediction: Home is usually where the heart is, but the Hawks should handle business on the road in Game 3 to take a commanding series lead. Hawks point guard Jeff Teague has outplayed Isaiah Thomas, while Horford has dominated his matchup with Jared Sullinger on the inside. Expect Boston to be much more competitive, but Atlanta will weather the storm and steal one on the road on Friday night.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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