The Boston Celtics are a perfect 4-0 against the Atlanta Hawks this season, winning by an average of 13.3 points. In their latest victory -- 112-99 a triumph in Game 1 of the teams' first-round playoff series Saturday at TD Garden -- the Celtics' lead ballooned to 30 by halftime.
How has Boston been able to dominate the Hawks this season? Simple: By gaining an edge where the shots count the most.
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After making 13 3-pointers (on 33 attempts) to Atlanta's five (on 29 attempts) in Game 1, the Celtics have now outscored the Hawks 237-99 on 3-point shots this season -- a 138-point advantage. Boston has shot 45.1 percent from 3-point range in its four matchups with Atlanta, compared to the Hawks' dismal 24.6 percent clip.
As illustrated in the graphic above, Atlanta has struggled on any shot outside the paint against Boston this season, shooting just 27.7 percent (53 for 191) on non-paint shots in four games vs. the Celtics.
The result: Boston has made its hay beyond the arc against the Hawks, while Atlanta has done most of its work inside. In fact, the Celtics scored a higher percentage of their points via the three ball against the Hawks than any other opponent this season, while Atlanta was the exact opposite, scoring a higher percentage of points in the paint against Boston than any other opponent.
- Celtics' highest percentage of points via 3-pointers, 2022-23 season: vs. Atlanta, 52.1 percent
- Hawks' highest percentage of points in the paint, 2022-23 season: vs. Boston, 55.3 percent
Since three points are worth more than two, you can see which team has the advantage here.
The Hawks have several capable 3-point shooters -- most notably All-Star guard Trae Young -- but Boston's defense kept them in check Saturday, limiting Young to just one 3-pointer on five attempts. Atlanta made five 3-pointers total, while the Celtics had five players make multiple 3-pointers in Game 1.
The C's won't shoot the lights out every night, but the 3-point line is where they win games: They ranked second in the NBA in 3-pointers made this season (16 per game) and held opponents to just 11.6 made threes per game, tied for fifth in the NBA.
If that trend continues Tuesday night in Game 2, expect a similar result.
Tip-off for Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston, with our coverage beginning at 6 p.m. with "Celtics Pregame Live."