Atlanta (2-1) at Boston (1-2)
When: Sunday, April 24th 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Time: 6:05 ET | TV: TNT
The Boston Celtics got themselves back into their first round series with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night with a 111-103 win with Game 4 on tap for Sunday night at TD Garden. All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas poured in a career-high 42 points for the Celtics and managed to avoid a suspension after appearing to hit Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder in the face. Schroder and Thomas battled back and forth in Game 3 and Thomas sent a hand toward Schroder’s face in the first quarter after the two were assessed technical fouls for jawing at each other. The refs missed the hit to the face but did catch Schroder knocking Thomas down seconds later. Boston is still without starting shooting guard Avery Bradley (hamstring) and switched up the lineup in Game 3 inserting Jonas Jerebko and Evan Turner into the starting lineup. Those two combined for 28 points and spaced the floor for Thomas, who joined Hall of Famers like Larry Bird and John Havlicek as Celtics who have gone for 40 or more points in the playoffs. Center Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) sat out the last two games and is “highly questionable” for Game 4.
Atlanta was down 17 at the end of the first quarter on Friday and trailed by as much as 19 early in the third before battling back and taking the game down to the wire. Kent Bazemore scored 20 points for the Hawks after shooting just 2-of-14 in Game 2. Schroder, who was involved in the altercation with Thomas, scored 20 points off the bench after averaging just 11.0 a game during the regular season. The Hawks continued to struggle from three-point land but Kyle Korver is 10-of-16 from 3-point range in the last two games after going 0-of-7 in Game 1. Point guard Jeff Teague managed 23 points to match his Game 1 total, but failed on all four of his three-point attempts and is now 1-for-8 from long range in the series. The Hawks held Boston to 31.8% shooting in Game 2, but allowed them to shoot 46.3% in the last game in Boston.
In a series as close as this one seems to be, you have to give the advantage to the home team. Thomas being able to play in this game is enormous for Boston. I think the Celtics even up the series tonight.
Pick: Celtics -2