Atlanta at Boston
When: 7:30 PM ET, Monday, February 27, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON – The host Boston Celtics will try to take advantage of a struggling Atlanta Hawks squad before beginning a critical stretch of games when the teams meet on Monday. After the Hawks leave town, the Celtics host Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland – which leads Boston by three games – before playing five straight on the road.
Behind a 33-point effort by All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics halted a two-game slide Sunday with a 104-98 win at Detroit. Thomas has scored at least 20 points in a franchise-record 43 games in a row, and he hit the decisive basket with 2.4 seconds left to lift Boston to a 103-101 win at Atlanta in their first meeting of the season. The Hawks are averaging 86.7 points during their three-game losing streak, which includes a 105-86 setback at Orlando on Saturday. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a team-high 15 points but was the only starter to hit at least half of his attempts as Atlanta shot under 40 percent for the second straight time.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), CSN New England (Boston)
ABOUT THE HAWKS (32-26): Atlanta’s three-game slide is its longest since a seven-gamer from Nov. 25-Dec. 5, but the squad will return home for six straight contests once it is through with the Celtics. Point guard Dennis Schroder returned from a team-imposed one-game suspension to face Orlando and shot 4-of-17, but blame for the offensive issues go all around. “We’re just now playing well on defense, not playing very offensively,” coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters. “Coaching, all of us collectively need to find a way to be better, and it’s important that it starts quickly.”
ABOUT THE CELTICS (38-21): Boston will need Al Horford to get going for the stretch run, as the veteran center has struggled mightily at the offensive end of late. He was 2-of-11 – missing all three of his 3-point tries – in the win over Detroit and has been held to single digits in points in three consecutive games for the first time since March 2009. Horford did contribute nine rebounds as the Celtics, one of the worst rebounding teams in the league that was taking on one of the best, owned a 52-45 advantage on the boards.
1. Hawks C Dwight Howard has registered 37 double-doubles, tying him for sixth in the NBA and putting him one shy of his total from last season.
2. Boston C Kelly Olynyk scored a season-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the earlier win over Atlanta.
3. Celtics G Avery Bradley (Achilles) has missed 18 straight games but is expected to return “any day now,” according to coach Brad Stevens.