There is only one NBA playoff game scheduled for Thursday, April 27, as the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns both closed out their series on Tuesday night. Denver edged out a Game 5 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to advance to the second round, while the Suns used a 50-point third quarter to put away Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Clippers. Three teams had the potential to close out their opponents on Tuesday night though, and the only team that failed to get it done was the Boston Celtics.
Boston took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks, but we saw Trae Young go off in the final frame to lead the Hawks to a 119-117 win. Young led all scorers with 38 points, and he put away the game by draining a three-pointer from just past the half-court logo with less than three seconds left. Now, the Celtics will have to travel to Atlanta for Game 6, and this will be the only game on Thursday.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
Boston Celtics (-6) at Atlanta Hawks
I laid the points with the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, but they lost outright and gave Atlanta backers a big win by the NBA moneyline odds. However, the Hawks are not nearly as talented as the Celtics, and Atlanta will not be able to thrive against this defense once again.
Atlanta will have one of its best players back in the lineup though after Dejounte Murray was suspended for Game 5 due to an altercation with an official. Immediately after the game, Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Young FaceTimed Murray and told him to get ready for Game 6 because the series was returning to Atlanta for Game 6. Murray has been the most consistent performer for Atlanta in this first-round series, averaging 25.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 5.8 APG, while making 45.6% of his field goals and 39.4% of his threes.
Still, I expect Boston’s big men to take over in Game 6 and ensure this series doesn’t return to Beantown for Game 7. Atlanta just doesn’t have the bodies in the front court to deal with a concerted effort to dominate the paint from Boston. De’Andre Hunter hasn’t had a good series to this point, and both John Collins and Clint Capela have disappeared for long stretches.
Jayson Tatum has not been at his best in this series. Boston’s best player hasn’t had a strong performance since Game 2, and he had his worst performance of the series on Tuesday night. Tatum finished with just 19 points while shooting 38.1% from the floor and 10% from beyond the arc. He averaged 30.1 PPG while making 46.6% of his shots in the regular season, and that’s the type of outing I expect in a bounce-back effort on Thursday night in Atlanta.
We should see more from Al Horford too. The long-time Atlanta forward is averaging just 5.0 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 33.2 MPG this series. Horford has done a good job with his passing, but he has just three points in the last two games. He is more of a scoring threat than what he has shown, so look for him to perform better in a bigger game.
Finally, Boston’s guards are much more well-rounded than those of Atlanta. However, Marcus Smart is not the defensive force he was the past few years, and it’s clear that either Derrick White or Malcolm Brogdon need to spend the majority of the time on Young. That is an adjustment the Celtics should make in Game 6.
Under 232.5 Points in Game 6
The ‘Over’ has cashed in each of the last three games between these teams after the ‘Under’ hit in each of the first two meetings. That has led to the total creeping up, and it is currently the highest it has been in any of the six games in this series. Boston will be better able to stop Young, so the ‘Under’ is the better play by the basketball betting odds.