Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta
Vince Carter (15)
ATLANTA – This is not how the Boston Celtics figured their season would unfold, not after tons of preseason hype and certainly not after starting the season with six wins in their first eight games. The Celtics visit the Atlanta Hawks on Friday looking to snap out of a 3-7 stretch that has been marked with inconsistent play, and needed a 40-point fourth quarter Wednesday to make a 117-109 loss to the New York Knicks appear more respectable – after trailing by 26 points in the first half.
“We’ve got to try and turn this ship around and get it going in the right direction,” Boston forward Gordon Hayward told reporters afterward. “I don’t think it’s smart to get too down on ourselves, but we’ve got to improve.” The Celtics missed their first 10 3-point attempts against New York in losing for the third consecutive contest, and open a three-game road trip that also includes visits to Dallas and New Orleans. The swing begins in Atlanta, where the Hawks have dropped nine games in a row and 15-of-18 so far this season after Wednesday’s 124-108 home defeat to Toronto. “We just struggled,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce told the media after his bench outscored the starting five 16-8 in the first quarter. “We just needed to get some new life, new energy.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, FS Southeast (Atlanta)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (9-9): Kyrie Irving finished with 13 assists to go along with his team-high 22 points Wednesday, and is averaging 22.4 points and 6.4 assists on the season. Center Al Horford scored 19 points in 35 minutes despite a sore left knee. The Celtics are scoring 106 points per game, ranking 25th in the NBA, and are third in points allowed per contest (103.4) despite surrendering 117 points in back-to-back losses to the Knicks and Charlotte.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (3-15): There was very little for Atlanta to feel good about Wednesday, other than veteran guard Vince Carter scoring his 25,000th career point just before the final buzzer. Forward Taurean Prince was the only starter to reach double figures in scoring (12 points) as Atlanta’s starting five combined to shoot 13-for-40 from the field. Guard Jeremy Lin came off the bench to score a team-best 26 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range, and is 12-for-23 from long range in his past five games.
1. Atlanta rookie G Trae Young ranks third in the NBA in assists at 8.1 per contest.
2. Boston is shooting 24-for-98 from 3-point range during the three-game skid.
3. The Hawks played Wednesday without C Alex Len (sore back) and F Omari Spellman (right hip adductor).