The Hawks are one of the season’s biggest surprises at 10-6, but they’ve had a knack for letting opponents hang around rather than closing out strong.
“I don't like games to get that close,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson told reporters after Saturday’s 102-98 narrow win over the Washington Wizards. “We make it close coming down the stretch.”
Clubs like the Hawks, who rely heavily on the long ball, have a tendency to lose their legs down the stretch. The Hawks are ranked first in three-point field goal percentage (41.9 percent), but shoot just 44 percent from the field.
Atlanta’s last three contests have been decided by five points or less and the squad has covered the spread just three times in its last 10 overall.
The Pacers got the best of the Celtics when the two clubs met at the start of November. Indiana had five players score in double digits and shot 40 percent from the field en route to 16-point win over the defending champs.
Lightning shouldn’t strike again.
The Celtics turned the ball over 24 times against an Indiana team that ranks near the bottom of the league in steals. Boston hit just 34.6 percent from the field against the Pacers, including 3-for-15 shooting from leading scorer Paul Pierce (18.4 PPG).
Since losing to the Pacers, Boston has won 14 of its last 15 overall. The Pacers, on the other hand, are a dismal 5-9 since toppling the Celtics last month.