We continue our journey through the first round series with one of the most lopsided series on paper: the Boston Celtics, second in seeding and for many the best team in the NBA, will face the Atlanta Hawks, who surprisingly clinched a Playoff spot after a beautiful game against Miami.
Many, starting with the great Shaquille O’Neal, predict a comfortable sweep for Jayson Tatum and company, but coach Quinn Snyder’s team has some characteristics that could disrupt Mazzulla’s game plan.
NBA Fantasy Playoffs 2022/23. Play for free!
To begin with, compared to last season’s playoff run, the Celtics have seemed slightly more distracted in approaching seemingly easy games, so some drop in tension during the series could be repeated.
The other huge question mark concerns Robert Williams III: the center has not been physically well for over a year, limiting himself to a few minutes on the court without ever finding continuity in his performance.
Now, Atlanta against Miami (which has a physical structure in some ways similar to that of Boston, with only Adebayo as a true big man) showed embarrassing superiority on the rebounds on both halves of the court, even ending with 21 offensive boards; who knows if the Celtics, with Time Lord out of the lineup or playing at half strength and the aging Al Horford as the only other reliable center solution (Muscala and Blake Griffin are unlikely to see the court), won’t suffer excessively from the explosive Capela and Okongwu’s rebounding.
Besides physicality, however, Atlanta may not offer much else as a tactical plan: there’s no hiding it, the Celtics will advance, but Trae Young and company will have the chances to avoid another embarrassment like last year’s first round.
NBA Playoff 2023 Preview
- Milwaukee Bucks Vs Chicago Bulls/Miami Heat (TBD)
- Cleveland Cavaliers Vs New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers Vs Brooklyn Nets
- Boston Celtics Vs Atlanta Hawks
- Denver Nuggets Vs Oklahoma City Thunder/Minnesota Timberwolves (TBD)
- Phoenix Suns Vs Los Angeles Clippers (TBD)
- Sacramento Kings Vs Golden State Warriors
- Memphis Grizzlies Vs Los Angeles Lakers (TBD)