Defense wins championships? If you like offense, Tuesday night was not the night for you.
Hawks 89, Celtics 72
The Hawks defense is pretty good and kind of is underappreciated. They ranked first in the NBA after the break for defensive rating with their 96.8 — the Spurs were second at 99.3. They clamped down on the Celtics to take a 2-0 lead. Although, the Celtics missed a ton of shots at the rim in this game, but the Hawks were just awesome at the rim on D. It all started out terribly for the Celtics for the worst scoring playoff quarter in franchise history. In over 600 games in their storied franchise, their seven points is the worst and they never got it going after that.
Here’s how it broke down in Game 2 with stats:
Coach Brad Stevens had to get creative at shooting guard. Marcus Smart essentially slotted into Bradley’s minutes with even some SF run. Bradley is a much better shooter than Smart, so that was a problem. Smart made 1-of-11 from the field while Isaiah Thomas was just 4-of-15. Both should be better in Game 3.
Terry Rozier moved into the backup point guard spot with some two-guard run. He was pretty good on offense and I’d expect him to play more in Game 3.
Evan Turner and Jae Crowder basically picked up identical roles while both had decent usage. Crowder was just 1-of-9 from the field as he continues to play both forward spots. His defense was also terrific yet again.
As for the bigs, it was a similar rotation with Olynyk out and Zeller in his spot. Jerebko got a couple extra minutes because the Celtics needing spacing.
Moving forward, I’d expect Stevens to run a similar rotation. He probably thinks his boys won’t shoot 31.8 percent from the field again.
Injuries: Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) and Avery Bradley (hamstring) didn’t play. Olynyk will likely be back, which would push Tyler Zeller out of the rotation. Smart had a bruised rib, but it sounds like he's OK. If not, Rozier time.
The Hawks didn’t really light it up either in the 89-72 win. Here’s what their minutes and stats looked like:
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||12||3||1||2||11||1|
Paul Millsap was just 1-of-12 from the field and missed a number of bunnies. He’s a decent bet for a bounce-back game on Friday. Al Horford was great on both ends to help the Hawks get a playoff franchise-record 15 blocks. He’s getting a max deal even at age 29. Kent Bazemore also struggled, making 2-of-14 from the field. He’s fine and looks to be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Kyle Korver was en fuego in this game, making 6-of-9 from the field. If he’s going to stay hot, the Hawks might sweep this thing. Jeff Teague cooled off a tad, but he might play more on Friday because…
Injuries: Dennis Schroder hurt his ankle in the last two minutes. He had to limp to the locker room and was limping exiting the arena. That would put Kirk Hinrich in the rotation on top of maybe some extra Teague minutes. The Hawks have also used Bazemore at the point this year on occasion.
Is there anything to even talk about with the Spurs? They have the best defense on the year and they're going up against arguably the worst offense among the playoff teams. The only takeaway is to only play the punts most nights. LaMarcus Aldridge put up a decent game with 10 ponts, eight rebounds and four blocks. Kawhi Leonard was below expectations at 13 points, three rebounds, two steals, one block and one turnover. Patty Mills was solid with some added run late on top of a nice start, finishing with 16 points, two assists and four 3-pointers.
Can we at least get some more Boban Marjanovic?
The Grizzlies seem like they have no chance of scoring 80 points in game, so really the only guys you can consider playing are Xavier Munford and Jarell Martin at their near-min prices. Plus, they play on a three-game night on Friday, so you can pretty much avoid this game.
Tuesday News and Notes
The big news of the day is an MRI on Stephen Curry (ankle) didn’t show anything concerning. According to the Warriors, Curry “is expected to continue treatment in preparation for Thursday’s Game 3” against the Rockets. He’s questionable and we probably won’t have a concrete update until pre-game warmups on Thursday. As Monday indicated, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will step up.
The Suns signed Earl Watson to a three-year deal. After a slow start, Watson seemed to figure out his rotation and made the Suns competitive at times. The Suns have the No. 4 spot in the lottery, the No. 13 spot in the lottery (Washington, top-10 protected) and the 28th pick in the first round (Cavs). They also could get Bogdan Bogdanovic, so they will likely be looking to make a trade.
David Lee (foot) is improving from his plantar fasciitis issue. Still, don’t expect him to play in this series because he has a partial tear. Salah Mejri was awesome on Monday and he has actually been solid against OKC this year — not counting Game 1. He’s still a risky player to use, of course.
J.J. Barea (groin) is also improving. He probably has a decent chance to play, but he’s still likely out. Plus, Deron Williams (hernia) is likely out. It might be Raymond Felton time again. What a time to be alive.
Dirk Nowitzki has a right knee bone bruise. It doesn’t sound serious, but this is the “bad” knee that needed surgery. If he can’t go, we’ll probably see more Dwight Powell and Charlie Villanueva. We might see some small lineups with Justin Anderson as a stretch four, too.
Perhaps the quote of the day was Charlie Villanueva talking about interrupting Russell Westbrook’s dance with Cameron Payne. “If you want to go dancing and stuff like that, go to a night club,” he said. Yes, we would like CV to start in Game 3 now.
Here's today's DFS podcast for the Wednesday games. Tough slate with no really new injuries: