Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks (7:30ET on NBATV): Hawks lead series 1-0
- Stat: With Rajon Rondo on the bench compared to when he’s on the floor, Boston’s offensive efficiency drops from 101.5 to 94.4.
- Take: Rondo is unquestionably the straw that stirs the drink for Boston’s at-best mediocre offense, and when he’s on the bench the Celtics’ 94.4 offensive rating would rank only above the lowly Bobcats over the full regular season. Of course, there’s a major difference between Rondo taking a breather and not being available to play at all. The Celtics, no doubt, will look much different offensively tonight than they have all season long without the services of Rondo and Ray Allen. Paul Pierce will handle much of the playmaking and ballhandling duties, a task he’s been up to in the past without Boston’s mercurial leading man by his side – he averages 4.3 more assists per 36 minutes when playing as a de-facto point guard. But Pierce needs to act as a scorer for the Celtics first and foremost, which is why it will be interesting to see how Doc Rivers doles out minutes to Avery Bradley and Keyon Dooling. Each is obviously more of a combo guard, but the latter appears more comfortable than the young Bradley initiating sets and getting a team into its offense. Regardless, it will take extra big individual nights from Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and an ancillary piece or two for Boston to come away with an unlikely win and even this series at 1-1.
Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls (8:00ET on TNT): Bulls lead series 1-0
- Stat: Jrue Holiday’s scoring average per 36 minutes against Chicago with Derrick Rose on the court is 17.0. When Rose is inactive or on the bench, that number jumps to 24.0 points per 36 minutes.
- Take: Team-wise, the advanced statistics paint a much Rose-ier (pun!) picture for Chicago in this series without the reigning MVP than public perception would indicate. The Bulls actually outscored the Sixers in the regular season by 2.7 points per 48 minutes when Rose was not playing; conversely, Philly was +3.9 against Chicago with Rose on the floor. That sample size needs to be taken with a grain of salt, obviously, but in terms of getting out of the first round all is clearly not lost for the East’s top seed. But what does Rose’s absence mean for Philly? The Sixers fared far better in efficiency on both ends of the floor with Rose playing, but – offensively, at least – none of that had to do with Holiday. The young point guard becomes ultra-aggressive matched up against CJ Watson or John Lucas III, and rightfully so; he’s a got a significant size, strength, and athleticism advantage over each Chicago reserve. Holiday struggled his way to 16 points on 7-18 shooting Saturday matched up with Rose, so considering that performance and the regular season’s results look for him to have a big night. Whether he helps lead Philly to a win against the Rose-less Bulls, though, is a different story.