Just a day after picking up a big win against the Denver Nuggets, the Celtics couldn’t keep the momentum, and fell 122-114 to the Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young dropped 40 points while also dishing out eight assists to power the Hawks to victory. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics on the other hand with 35 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Celtics out of the loss column again, dropping the team back to .500 on the season.
The Celtics started off hot in the first quarter, as all nine of their players who got minutes managed to score atleast one basket. They held a two point lead heading into the second quarter, yet labored through a miserable second quarter, and allowed the Hawks to head into the half with the lead. The Celtics only managed to score 21 points, with 12 of them coming from Tatum. The offense really struggled to get anything going, as they just kept missing shots and turning the ball over.
The second half continued to be all Hawks. After the Hawks controlled much of the third quarter, the Celtics started off the fourth looking ready to make a comeback. The Celtics brought the game back to within 3 points early in the fourth, but then were forced to watch Trae Young completely take over the game down the stretch. Young scored 13 straight points for the Hawks late in the fourth to prevent the Celtics from making up any ground, as the Hawks closed out the game.
So with the loss, the Celtics struggles continue. Tonight, it was Jaylen Brown who was the main culprit. Brown struggled mightily for most of the contest, as he shot 6/20 from the field and just couldn’t consistently find the bottom of the bucket. Brown still managed to drop 22 on the night with 7 assists, but if he could have played up to his normal standards the Celtics probably could have pulled this game out.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Celtics were without Kemba Walker, and they certainly could have used him in this one. Walker looked to finally be finding his way in the past couple of performances, and his contributions were missed tonight. This forced Javonte Green and Jeff Teague into extra minutes, and they didn’t exactly inspire confidence with their performances again. Green did drop 9 points, but Teague failed to make a basket. While Walker hasn’t always been a huge help for the C’s this season, they really missed him tonight.
The Celtics defense continues to struggle, and this loss only amplifies the issue. Not only did Young drop 40, but Hawks bigs Clint Capela and John Collins combined to drop 44 points. The Celtics lack of interior defense continues to plague them, and it’s something that needs to be addressed. Even in yesterday’s win over the Nuggets, the C’s allowed Nikola Jokic to go for 43, and they were lucky to come away with a win. Maybe missing Daniel Theis has hurt them, but him being on the court hasn’t proved to be much of a help so far this season.
One of the bright spots in the game has to be the play of the rookies. Payton Pritchard continues to look like a seasoned veteran off the bench, as he poured in 11 points tonight. Aaron Nesmith also continued his recent streak of good play tonight. Nesmith only hit one two-point shot, but he still made his impact on the game. Nesmith secured six rebounds, including three on the offensive end. He also always makes sure to give it his all on every defensive possession, as his high energy play has helped the Celtics when he’s been on the court.
The Celtics will have a quick shot at redemption against the Hawks, as they take them on again on Friday. The Celtics will look to add Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis back into the fold for this contest, and hopefully it will make a difference. The Celtics will have to do better with guarding the Hawks big three of Young/Capela/Collins, and adding back Walker and Theis could be what they need to get them back into the win column.
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