Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics (+2, 197)
Hawks lead series 3-2
The Atlanta Hawks found a formula to stop Isaiah Thomas in Game 5, and it brought them to the brink of a series win. The Hawks will try to stop a hobbled Thomas again and close out the series when they visit the Boston Celtics for Game 6 on Thursday.
The Celtics were already down 31 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 in Atlanta when Thomas went up for a layup and rolled his ankle on the way down, effectively ending his night at seven points on 3-of-12 shooting in the 110-83 setback. Thomas, who vows to play in Game 6, averaged 35 points in home wins in Games 3 and 4 and was the clear focus of the Hawks defense in Game 5, with two players trapping every time he had the ball. “If we’re able to contain him, it gives us a better chance,” Atlanta center Al Horford told reporters. “We just wanted to be aggressive. (Thomas’) a guy that’s very capable.” The Hawks trailed by 10 points midway through the second quarter before exploding for 70 points over the next 18 minutes of the game and coasting through the fourth quarter.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), CSN New England (Boston)
LINE HISTORY: The Hawks opened as 1.5-point road favorites and on Wednesday morning the books bumped the line slightly to ATL -2. The total opened at 197 and has yet to budge off the initial number. Check out the complete line history here.
Hawks – C T. Splitter (Out For Season, hip).
Celtics – PG I. Thomas (Probable Thursday, ankle), PG A. Bradley (Out Indefinitely, hamstring).
ABOUT THE HAWKS (51-36, 44-42-1 ATS, 39-48 O/U): Atlanta handed out a combined 21 assists in the second and third quarters on Tuesday and buried 11 of 14 3-pointers in the two frames while surging into the lead. “(The shooting was) definitely contagious,” Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore told reporters. “What changed is we said, ‘just let it fly.’ (We) loosened up a little bit there.” Bazemore knocked down four 3-pointers to bounce back from a 2-of-10 effort in Game 4 and Atlanta got contributions from reserve forwards Kris Humphries (eight points in nine minutes in his first appearance of the series) and Mike Scott (17 points on 7-of-9 shooting).
ABOUT THE CELTICS (50-37, 45-41-1 ATS, 40-47 O/U): Boston shot 37.7 percent from the floor in Game 5, including 7-of-29 from 3-point range, and had no answer for the defensive pressure focused on Thomas. “They put two or three guys on me every time I touched the ball,” Thomas said. “Their game plan was to let the other guys beat us. It should be a sign of disrespect to my teammates for (the Hawks) to put two on the ball every time I have it. Other guys have to step up and make plays, that’s what it comes down to.” Thomas expressed confidence that his teammates will be able to step up with the series on the line, and guard Marcus Smart will get one more chance in front of the home crowd after posting 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Game 4.
* Hawks are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
* Under is 5-0 in Hawks last 5 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Under is 12-3 in Celtics last 15 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus numbers are favoring the underdog Celtics (64 percent) and the over (59 percent).
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