Mar 31, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) passe the ball past Philadelphia 76ers guard Elliot Williams (25) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 103-95. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Rich's Scouting Report: Atlanta Hawks

Tonight’s Opponent: The Atlanta Hawks

Record: 34-43

Playoff Status: Eighth in the Eastern Conference

Current Streak: L1

If the playoffs were to start tonight, the Atlanta Hawks would be playing the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat.   Now, that just doesn’t seem fair, the 34-43 Hawks playing a team that has over 20 more wins on the season than they do.   Atlanta: are you sure you want to do this to yourselves?!?

Of course, two months ago the Hawks looked like a team that actually deserved to make the playoffs . . . and then they embarked on a stretch of games in which they went 6-20, allowing over 105 points per game to their opponents.   Of course, people will tell you that Atlanta has been hit by the injury bug (most notably losing center Al Horford for the season) – but almost every team could make that claim at some point this year.  Only a select few can successfully go 6-20, so hats off to the Hawks!

Give Atlanta credit, however; just when it seemed like the team was determined to play itself into the lottery, the team decided to get back to playing defense and won three out of four games in which it allowed only 96.5 PPG.  If the Hawks can replicate that kind of defensive intensity, the Celtics could be in for a long night, as Boston’s offense ranks among the league’s worst (95.7, 26th in the NBA).

Atlanta is led by forward Paul Millsap‘s 18 points and 8.4 boards per night (he also averages nearly two blocks and one steal per game), and will throw point guard Jeff Teague (16.4 PPG, 6.9 APG) out on the floor to square off against Boston’s Rajon Rondo.  The Hawks can score, putting up 101.1 PPG, the league’s 13th best offense, so don’t be surprised if they put up 115 or more against a Boston defense that gives up just over 100 on average, and has given up over 110 points in each of its last three games.

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