The Boston Celtics will face off in the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Celtics are likely the most balanced team in the playoffs. They are deep at all positions and have a consistent 10-man rotation. The Hawks took a step back to 48 wins this season after 60 wins the year before. The loss of Damare Carrol was felt on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. They do still have enough talent to beat nay team on any given night.
POINT GUARD- Jeff Teague vs. Isaiah Thomas
Thomas was an All-Star for the first time this season and deservedly so. He averaged over 20 points per game and was the catalyst for a team that outperformed expectations. Teague is a consistent and dependable player. The question is will he be able to make the big play or the big shot at the right moment.
SHOOTING GUARD- Kyle Korver vs. Avery Bradley
Korver has followed up a season where he made his first all-star team with a disappointing campaign this year. He hasn’t been as reliable from three and has regressed defensively. Bradley has had the best season of his career. He is a defensive specialist who has an improved offensive ability that has taken his game to the next level.
Small Forward- Kent Bazemore vs. Jae Crowder
Bazemore is a tremendous athlete who is an exceptional scorer in transition. His activity level also gets him to the foul line often. Crowder is like a lot of the players on the Celtics. He is a hard-nosed defender who contributes on the offensive end in a variety of ways.
ADVANTAGE – Even
POWER FORWARD- Paul Milsap and Amir Johnson
Milsap is one of the most underrated players in the league. He has evolved his game to include the three-point line therefore creating matchup problems for opposing defenses. He also still remains a reliable scorer out of both the high and low post. Johnson is the starter for his offensive game and ability to get the team off to good starts.
CENTER- Al Horford vs. Jared Sullinger
Horford is a true veteran who has played in many playoff games in his career. He is a rock defensively and has improved his outside shooting every year he has been in the league. His interior defense will be key to stopping the attacking Celtics offense. Sullinger is an undersized center with three-point range. He is a versatile offensive player that provides a difficult matchup for opposing centers
Marcus Smart provides the Celtics with intensity on the defensive end off the bench. He plays both guard positions and even small forward. Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller give the Celtics plenty of depth in the frontcourt. The Hawks don’t have a deep bench however Thabo Sefolosha is a veteran defender who can provide scoring and Tim Hardaway has emerged as an instant offense scorer late in the season
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