2/13/22 by Andrew Carter
A scorching third quarter by the Celtics proved to be enough to take down the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, as Boston won at home by a score of 105-95.
Boston got off to a lethargic start, scoring only 17 points in the first quarter. Atlanta sank five threes in the opening quarter, while the Celtics went 0-6 from range. Trae Young nearly matched Boston’s total scoring output alone, dropping 13 points in the first.
Atlanta would take a 55-45 lead into halftime. Boston made just 37.8% of their shots from the floor in the first half, while going 4-20 from three. While the Hawks shot at a similar rate, they made five more threes.
“We didn’t play our best in the first half,” coach Udoka said postgame. “We got good looks, but we settled a little bit.”
That slow start was quickly forgotten by the start of the third quarter. After conceding the first bucket of the second half to Atlanta, Boston went on a 12-0 run to tie the game at 57. Jayson Tatum would score 16 points of his own in the third en route to a 42-point third period, nearly matching their point total from the previous half.
In tandem with solid defense, the Celtics outscored the Hawks 42-23, turning what was once a double-digit deficit into an 87-78 lead after three.
It was Boston’s defense that sealed the deal, holding Atlanta to 17 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. Trae Young, despite scoring 30 points, shot only 9-26 from the field, including going 2-8 in the fourth.
Coach Udoka was encouraged by the growth the Celtics showed in finishing the game strong. “We took our lumps early, but the team has always responded well. I was always optimistic because we would build big leads. Now, we’ve gotten better at finishing… We always know we can buckle down defensively when we need to.”
Jayson Tatum finished with 38 points and ten rebounds in the victory. Jaylen Brown poured in 17 points of his own. Rob Williams recorded a double-double with ten points and 14 rebounds.
The win is Boston’s eighth straight, pushing their record to 33-25. They’ll try to make it nine when they travel to Philadelphia to take on MVP candidate Joel Embiid and the 76ers. Tip-off is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.