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Background

After a slow start, the Boston Celtics have won five of their last seven games. However, it's evident that the team is still acclimating to yet another new floor general in Dennis Schroeder. The former Hawk is averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 assists, and a career-high 4 rebounds per game.

Despite Schroder's stellar play, the Celtics are still bottom-seven in the league in offensive rating (104.6). However, it would be unfair to pin their offensive struggles on the veteran point guard. The team is run by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The 'Two J's' account for 49.1 points per game. Brown has been scorching hot, while Tatum is shooting career-low percentages - 38.6 FG%, 31.6 3P%, and 44.4 eFG%

The Celtics make up for their offensive woes by playing inspired defense. Currently, they are top-ten in defensive rating (104.1). Thanks to another former Hawk, Al Horford, and Robert Williams III, they are second in the league in blocks per game (6.3).

Meanwhile, the Hawks are trying to dig themselves out of a hole they created on a miserable west coast road trip. They have won two consecutive games where they posted 120+ points in each contest. Their offensive rating (109.9) and three-point percentage (36.1%) are the sixth-best in the league. But a 111.3 defensive rating is only better than the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans (not great company). 

Trae Young remains undaunted by the new foul rules. He's averaging 25.5 points per game which is tenth best in the league. More impressively, he leads the league in total assists (136). It's rare to see this kind of consistency from a 23-year-old point guard.

Outlook

The Celtics injury report includes Jaylen Brown (Right Hamstring Strain) as out. While Robert Williams (Left Knee Tendinopathy) is questionable. The Hawks will be playing without De'Andre Hunter (right wrist surgery) and Oneyeka Okongwu (right shoulder injury recovery). Additionally, Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle soreness) and Kevin Huerter (left hamstring tightness) are questionable.

SI Sportsbook has the Hawks as 4.5-point favorites. They recognize the void left by Jaylen Brown missing the game. The Celtics need Jayson Tatum to return to form if they're going to take this Eastern Conference matchup.

Final Thoughts

Both teams are dealing with injuries. That's par for the course in a long NBA season. The Hawks need to capitalize on Brown missing this game as they continue to try to dig their way out of the bottom of the conference. They are 5-1 at home, and I believe that trend continues tonight.

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