Celtics vs. Hawks, 2016 NBA playoffs: Game time, TV schedule and how to watch online

The most anticipated series of the first round of the NBA playoffs.

While most first-round matchups have a clear-cut favorite, a couple in the East are hard to predict because both teams are similarly talented. That’s the case with the Hawks and Celtics, two teams that won 48 games thanks largely to their team play instead of relying on a star to carry them. They will now face each other in what promises to be a close series.

Atlanta didn’t repeat with the same magic of last year, when they earned the No. 1 seed in the East with a 60-win showing. However, they were reliably solid, coming alive late in the season with fantastic play. Al Horford and Paul Millsap once again lead this team with All-NBA level skills. You know them as reliable, consistent scorers out of the post and with mid-range jumpers, but both are also fantastic defenders. They’re a huge reason why the Hawks had the best defensive rating in the NBA after the All-Star break — in fact, it was nearly three points better than the No. 2 Spurs.

But Boston won’t go quietly, with a deadly scorer in Isaiah Thomas that Atlanta (like many other teams) doesn’t have a clear answer for. Brad Stevens is so smart at putting Thomas is situations where he’s devastating, with a variety of swinging picks designed to let Thomas float around them and find himself in space. In many ways, the Celtics take after their coach: smart, under control and just all-around solid.

This series projects to be the most entertaining one in the NBA’s first round. Here’s how to watch.

How to watch Hawks vs. Celtics Game 1

Place: Philips Arena

Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Streaming: WatchESPN

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