Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Celtics set to begin playoff campaign against Hawks Saturday

Emily Devlin

The Boston Celtics are set to begin their 2023 playoff campaign with a home matchup against the Atlanta Hawks March 15. The two-seeded Celtics will look to return to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row, after losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games last year.

The Hawks defeated the Miami Heat in the play-in game on Tuesday night by a score of 116-105, landing them the number #7 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks, who were 5-point underdogs, led the entire game with the exception of a 4-4 tie three minutes into the game.

The Hawks dominated the offensive phase of the game, shooting 59.2% from the field to Miami’s 48.3%. Atlanta’s 48.1% from beyond the arc helped them maintain their lead throughout the night. Dejounte Murray led the scoring for the Hawks with 28, followed closely by young superstar Trae Young with 24. 

The Hawks and Celtics have met three times this year, all resulting in Celtics wins. One of those came on Easter Sunday, a 120-114 Boston win in which the Celtics and Hawks rested their starters.

The Celtics hold the second-best record in the east with 57 wins, only one behind the Milwaukee Bucks, putting them above any team in the Western Conference. The Celtics defeated the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in seven games last year. 

Leading the Celtics into their ninth consecutive playoff appearance are the “Jays”:  Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum is the first Boston Celtic to average over 30 points per game in the history of the franchise, averaging 30.1 points per game this season. The Jays had five games this season in which they both scored 30 points or more, breaking the single-season franchise record previously held by Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, which was set in the 1986-1987 season. 

The Celtics roster, led by potential Coach of the Year candidate Joe Muzzula, who is entering his first playoffs as a head coach, has lots of players to keep an eye on. The campaign’s success may hinge on the health of Robert Williams, who missed the start of the season with a knee injury. Sixth Man of the Year candidate Malcolm Brogdon, along with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, will also be looking for their first ring in their NBA careers. 

Also looking for his first ring in his long NBA career will be veteran center Al Horford. Horford has turned himself into an elite three-point shooter this year, currently second in the league (44.6%) behind Luke Kennard of Memphis. 

Members of the Celtics bench have also been making waves recently, with Payton Pritchard scoring a triple-double in the last game of the regular season, a non-consequential Easter matchup against the Hawks. Sam Hauser scored a career-high 26 points against the Raptors on April 7. Derek White has established himself as a key scorer, averaging 18 points per game in his last four games, excluding Sunday’s matchup in which he played a mere five minutes. 

The Celtics and Hawks will square off at TD Garden at 3:30 p.m. on March 15 for the first game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. 

Follow JD on Twitter @jdconte617

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About the Contributors
JD Conte, Sports Editor | he/him
JD is a senior from Wallingford, Conn. double majoring in political science and broadcast journalism. Aside from writing for the journal, JD can often be found in Studio 73 working on his broadcast skills. Off-campus JD can be found watching all the Boston and UCONN sports teams. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends in various spots around the city, especially in East Boston and the North End. After graduation JD hopes to work in a newsroom full-time or pursue a career in the sports industry. Follow JD on Twitter @jdconte617 Email him at [email protected]
Emily Devlin, Managing Editor | she/her
Emily is a senior print/web journalism major and art history minor at Suffolk University. She loves traveling around Boston from museums to sports games. History is a significant interest of hers and she spends her free time wandering around the MFA, reading, writing, and listening to music. After college Emily hopes to work in a museum. Follow Emily on Twitter @emrodev Email her at [email protected]

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Celtics set to begin playoff campaign against Hawks Saturday