Friday, November 23 – Celtics at Hawks

Pregame – Atlanta 76ers? Stevens Says Hawks Play Like Philly

ATLANTA – Although the Celtics are set to take on the Hawks tonight in Atlanta, in many ways, it will feel like they’re taking on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Slow down. Let us explain.

Lloyd Pierce is in his first season as head coach of the Hawks, who enter tonight’s game with a 3-15 record. He took the job with Atlanta after serving as an assistant for the 76ers for the previous five seasons.

While the Hawks aren’t winning at the same level that Philly has of late, their style of play is very similar to that of the Sixers.

“I think they do a lot of what Philly did when he was there, on both side of the ball,” Brad Stevens said ahead of tonight’s tip-off. “They’re doing a lot of the secondary actions that Philly ran, and they do a good job of keeping you off-balance defensively out of timeouts.”

Pierce hangs his hat as a coach on the defensive end, and at that end, Stevens has seen some interesting wrinkles that have been worked into Atlanta’s system.

“They do some unique things on sideline out-of-bounds defense that obviously they did in Philly,” said Stevens. “You can see a lot of that.”

The problem for Pierce and the Hawks is that they just don’t have the talent needed to consistently execute that system at a high enough level to win games. Atlanta enters tonight’s game ranked 24th in the league in defensive rating (110.6), and last in the league in offensive rating (100.8).

So the Celts certainly aren’t taking on the 76ers tonight, and that should help in their pursuit of a much-needed victory. As they take on the Hawks, however, and as fans watch from home, the expectation is that everyone will see plenty of plays from Atlanta that closely resemble what would be seen against Philly.

– Marc D’Amico

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