OK, so the Boston Celtics will actually have to suit up and play 192 minutes of basketball before allowing the Atlanta Hawks to take a summer vacation.
Let's break down the differences between the two teams.
The Boston Celtics are averaging 100.5 PPG and holding their opponents to a mere 90.3.
The Celtics’ defense - best in the league by almost every measured statistic - holds teams to 41.9 percent shooting and 31.6 percent from behind the arc.
Meanwhile, Boston shot 47.5 percent and managed to hit 38.1 percent of its 3-pointers. The difference in free-throw shooting is about +3 percent in favor of the Celtics.
I could highlight the Hawks' statistics, but a quick glance at their season's numbers find them trailing the opposing teams' stats in every category but rebounds (+1.3/game) and blocks (+0.4/game).
It's safe to say that Atlanta is in "we're just happy to be here" mode.
Nobody predicts an upset in this series. The Boston Celtics will sweep the Atlanta Hawks in four games with little difficulty.
Since articles like this aren't nearly as fun without throwing out some risky predictions, here it goes.
1) Doc Rivers will try to keep the “Big 3” under 30 min/game.
2) The Celtics' margin of victory will be larger than their season average (10.2) in each of the four wins.
3) Leon Powe will have at least one 20-10 game and will be the focus of no less than two separate Charles Barkley rants.
4) Rajon Rondo begins a playoff career in style that will end with fellow young PGs Chris Paul and Deron Williams watching his Finals performance in amazement as they sit at home. (That's right, it's the playoffs and it's about time somebody pointed out that fact that Rondo is the most solid all-around point guard in the NBA, and it’s only his second year.)
Overall Playoff Prediction:
Kobe or Paul can have the MVP trophy, but Kevin Garnett and his teammates will be hoisting the only trophy that matters in a few short weeks.
Nobody takes the Celtics to a Game 7 before the NBA Finals.
Bold statements, I know. Feel free to agree, disagree, or point out what I've missed.
I'm going to be writing throughout the playoffs and I'm looking to start a dialogue about the Celtics and the run for their 17th banner.