The final game of the year 2013 for the Celtics with be at the TD Garden in another matinee showdown when the Atlanta Hawks come to town. The last time the two teams have met was back on November 23 down in Atlanta where the Hawks watched their 76-64 lead disappear in the 4th quarter on a Celtics 30-11 run to finish the game. The Celtics would go on to win the game 94-87. This will be the second of four meetings between the Hawks and the Celtics and here’s what to look out for on the New Year’s Eve matinee matchup.
The Atlanta Hawks have just lost center Al Horford for the season after having surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Without Horford, the Hawks have been more dependent on their 3-point shooting than usual. They have been successful with their 3-point shooting as of late as well at 45.3 percent over their last two games. I don’t look at injuries to opposing players as a positive thing, but the Hawks without Horford aren’t going to be pounding the ball inside as much because they only have Paul Millsap and Elton Brand to do the dirty work in the paint. This will be a big opportunity for Jared Sullinger to redeem himself after having a tough game against the Cavaliers last Saturday.
To be more specific on their 3-point shooting, Kyle Korver is currently on a 100+ game streak when it comes to hitting at least one 3-pointer per game. He had broken the NBA record that was previously held by former Celtics great Dana Barros. But other than Korver, Jeff Teague has been on a hot streak himself averaging 25.5 points and 9.3 assists in his last four games. The Celtics have been defending the 3-point line very well all season so far and they are going to have to keep it up in this game because it will certainly play a key role in grabbing the win.
The Atlanta Hawks have lost six of their last seven road games and will be shorthanded coming to face the Celtics in Boston. The Celtics will have to find a way to keep the tempo up throughout the whole game and not let leads slip away. The Hawks are only one of three teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning record and if the Celtics can come up with another win against them, it will give them confidence to hopefully become the fourth Eastern Conference team with a winning record and reclaim the top spot in the Atlantic Division.