Celtics-Hawks tale of the tape: Key stats to know for Round 1 series


You didn't think you'd be looking up Trae Young's stats today, did you?

Many Boston Celtics fans expected the Miami Heat to dispatch the Atlanta Hawks in Tuesday night's NBA play-in tournament matchup, setting up a 2022 Eastern Conference finals rematch in the first round of the 2023 playoffs.

Instead, Atlanta dominated the boards en route to a 116-105 upset of the Heat in Miami, setting the stage for a first-round series with the Celtics that begins with Game 1 at TD Garden on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. (NBC Sports Boston's coverage begins at 2:30 p.m.)

Celtics Talk: Celtics set to face the Hawks after upset win over Heat, plus Derrick White 1-on-1 | Listen & Subscribe

So, what should C's fans expect from this Hawks team? Should Boston cruise to a series sweep, or does Atlanta present a tougher test than first meets the eye?

We've got your full series breakdown right here, featuring the teams' head-to-head matchups this season as well as key stats on both offense and defense.

Celtics vs. Hawks head-to-head in 2022-23

Nov. 16, 2022: Celtics 126, Hawks 101

With Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon out due to injury and Jayson Tatum (19 points) and Jaylen Brown (22 points) struggling offensively, the Celtics still routed the Hawks in Atlanta, getting double-digit scoring efforts from Grant Williams (18 points), Derrick White (16), Sam Hauser (15), Luke Kornet (15) and Payton Pritchard (14) en route to a 25-point win.

March 11, 2023: Celtics 134, Hawks 125

Tatum and Brown combined for 68 points as Boston shot 20-for-42 (47.6 percent) from 3-point range to overcome a strong Atlanta effort in which seven Hawks reached double figures. Smart also was ejected and later fined after getting into a scuffle with Young late in the fourth quarter.

April 9, 2023: Celtics 120, Hawks 114

It's hard to put much stock in this one, as both teams rested their starters in a regular-season finale with zero stakes.

Celtics vs. Hawks offensive stats

This could be a high-scoring series, as Atlanta (118.7 points per game) and Boston (117.9 points per game) boast two of the NBA's four best offenses.

If you look past total points, however, the Celtics have the clear edge, especially beyond the arc: Boston ranks sixth in 3-point percentage and second in 3-pointers made per game, while the Hawks rank 21st and 26th in those categories, respectively.

Perhaps Atlanta's best asset is its scoring depth, as seven Hawks players averaged more than 11 points per game this season. Young (26.2 points) and Dejounte Murray (20.5) are the stars, but Clint Capela and John Collins comprise a talented frontcourt while wings De'Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bodganovic, Saddiq Bey and Onkeya Okongwu (9.9 points per game) are all capable scorers.

That said, Boston boasts one of the NBA's deepest rotations and finished second in the league in offensive rating, so they should have no trouble keeping pace with Atlanta on offense.

Celtics vs. Hawks defensive stats

This is where the Celtics really separate themselves. Boston ranked in the top 10 in every major defensive metric this season, while the Hawks ranked in the bottom 10 in every key stat outside rebounding.

Atlanta allowed 120 points or more in half of its games (41 of 82) this season, including all three of its matchups with the Celtics. Opponents shot 48.6 percent against the Hawks this season and faced little resistance in the backcourt from Young, who is a liability on defense despite his offensive brilliance.

Big men Robert Williams and Al Horford will have to work hard to keep Capela off the glass -- the Hawks big man snagged 21 rebounds against the Heat on Tuesday, eight offensive -- but if they can win the rebounding battle or keep it at a stalemate, this will be a very short series.

Series prediction

Celtics in five. The Celtics get into trouble when they don't take their opponents seriously, and they can't walk into TD Garden expecting the Hawks to roll over. Atlanta has plenty of bulletin board material and has the offensive potential to make things interesting if Young and Co. steal a game in Boston.

The C's are the far superior team on paper, though, and if they show up with the right mindset, they should waltz into the second round.

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