After a robust exhibiting in Miami within the Play-In, the Hawks entered Saturday’s Recreation 1 in Boston hoping to hold momentum ahead and begin recent after a fairly disappointing common season. Sadly for Atlanta, they had been rapidly reminded why the Celtics had been the 2-seed and the reigning East champs, as Boston jumped everywhere in the Hawks, setting a franchise playoff file with 74 first-half factors to take a 30-point lead into the break.
Unsurprisingly, it was Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown main the way in which for Boston, as they sliced up the Hawks protection with an all-out assault on the rim, headlined by a 45-point second quarter outburst through which they had been merely unstoppable.
On the opposite finish, the Celtics protection suffocated the Hawks, with Robert Williams and firm chopping off the rim and forcing Atlanta into a gradual weight-reduction plan of contested jumpers, which they struggled to hit — Atlanta was 0-of-9 from three within the first quarter. Once they did dare assault the rim, they had been met with hefty resistance, headlined by this sensational block from Williams.
Issues did get fascinating within the early fourth quarter, because the Hawks rattled off an prolonged 32-12 run to chop a 32-point deficit all the way in which all the way down to 12 with simply over 9 minutes to play. Whereas they had been nonetheless chilly from three, they picked up their defensive depth and began attending to the rim to steadily chip away because the Celtics appeared to go to sleep after taking such a giant lead.
Boston would re-establish order and push the lead again out, and the Hawks wouldn’t get any nearer than that 12-point deficit once more. Nonetheless, the fourth quarter was actually extra aggressive and the Hawks had been capable of no less than see Dejounte Murray (24 factors on 10-of-25 capturing, eight rebounds, and 6 assists) get going some alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic, with all 9 of his factors within the closing body. Whereas Boston was by no means capable of totally re-establish their offensive dominance, the protection picked again up and carried them to the end line.
Whereas it wasn’t a full-on meltdown by the Celtics, their sloppiness within the second half was a bit regarding, because the offense floor to a halt and turnovers turned a problem. For a workforce that had its points giving again giant leads within the common season, seeing those self same issues pop up within the playoff opener wasn’t precisely preferrred. Nonetheless, they had been by no means in actual hazard of shedding the sport, and whereas they might’ve most popular to cruise to a 20-plus level win whereas resting their stars, they nonetheless put forth a principally spectacular show in what turned a 112-99 win.
Joe Mazzulla will nonetheless have some issues to wash up together with his squad, which is perhaps most popular for a coach as they all the time need issues to construct on and preserve gamers engaged, and so they confirmed on each ends how dominant they are often on this collection after they play with tempo and keep engaged. Brown (29 factors, 12 rebounds) and Tatum (25 factors, 11 rebounds) had been terrific after they weren’t attempting to expire the clock too early, and Derrick White continues to impress with 24 factors and 7 assists, whereas offering terrific protection on Younger and the Hawks guards.
For Atlanta, they’ll possible burn the primary half tape and attempt to deal with the positives of the ultimate 20 minutes of motion, the place they regarded like a aggressive basketball workforce once more. Trae Younger should be significantly better going ahead, as he struggled mightily with the scale and size of the Celtics, scoring simply 16 factors on 5-of-18 capturing, with eight assists and 5 turnovers. Murray discovering a bit of rhythm and Bogdanovic giving them one thing from past the arc was no less than a begin, however they will have to enhance dramatically on the offensive finish by way of effectivity to show issues round on this collection. As a workforce, they shot 5-of-29 from three on the afternoon, with Murray and Younger going a mixed 1-for-11. That’s not a recipe for fulfillment and so they’ll hope the capturing variance shifts extra of their favor going ahead.