Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics (-4, 188)
The Boston Celtics have moved a season-high six games over .500 after winning four in a row, including a dramatic 83-81 victory at Indiana on Wednesday. Paul Pierce is dealing with a bone bruise on his left knee, but is expected to be in the lineup when the Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. Atlanta and Boston are both battling for playoff position, with the Celtics holding the seventh spot and the Hawks in fifth. The teams split two games at Philips Arena earlier this season.
The Celtics are 13-4 since starting point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a season-ending knee injury, and their improved defense has been a key part of the surge. Against Indiana, the Celtics rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win after Jeff Green scored with 0.5 seconds remaining. Atlanta, which has dropped two straight in Boston, snapped its three-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 107-96 victory over Philadelphia.
8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Comcast Sportsnet (Boston)ABOUT THE HAWKS (34-26):
Guard Jeff Teague scored a game-high 27 points and recorded his 1,000th career assist in the win over the 76ers, and he’s averaging 20 points while shooting 60 percent in two games against Boston this season. Forward Al Horford, averaging 23.7 points and 11.3 rebounds over the last 11 games, had 24 points and with 13 boards in a 123-111 double-overtime victory over the Celtics on Jan. 25. Forward Josh Smith has had recorded five straight regular season double-doubles against the Celtics while averaging 15.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists during that stretch.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (33-27):
Kevin Garnett, who had a team-high 18 points along with 10 rebounds against Indiana, led Boston with 24 points and 10 boards in the double-overtime loss at Atlanta in January. Guard Jordan Crawford, acquired from Washington at on Feb. 21, has been a valuable addition to the Celtics’ bench while allowing coach Doc Rivers to rest Avery Bradley and Pierce. Crawford is averaging five points in 13.3 minutes with Boston. Bradley, averaging 13.8 points over his last five games, scored a career-high 28 points against Atlanta last season.TRENDS:
* Celtics are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games.
* Under is 5-1 in Celtics’ last six games following a win.
* Under is 4-0 in Hawks’ last four road games.
* Hawks are 5-1 ATS in their last six vs. NBA Atlantic foes.BUZZER BEATERS:
1. The Hawks are 28-2 when leading after three quarters.
2. Boston is 18-4 when scoring at least 100 points.
3. Atlanta G Kyle Korver is shooting 46.1 percent from 3-point range to lead the NBA, and he’s made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 53 games.