After an impressive performance in the first half of their back-to-back against the Nuggets, the Celtics seemed to hit a wall Wednesday night as they fell to the Atlanta Hawks 122-114.
The game was close up until the end, with neither team gaining a double-digit advantage until well into the fourth quarter. Despite that manageable deficit, the C’s were never able to put a complete run together and catch the Hawks, who led for most of the night.
Similar to the Celtics’ win over the Raptors last week, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown started the game as facilitators. Playing without Kemba Walker, the duo seemed to take the lead on ball movement, with Brown posting four assists in the first quarter.
Their primary beneficiaries early were Tristan Thompson and Semi Ojeleye, with each putting up six first-quarter points. They had five and four shot attempts each before either Brown or Tatum got their second. Tatum’s offense opened up at the end of the quarter, scoring the C’s final five points of the frame. Boston led 35-33 after the first.
Tatum stayed hot into the second, scoring six of the C’s first nine points. However, the Haws responded to Tatum’s run with an 8-0 run of their own. Despite Tatum scoring 19 first half points, the Hawks took a 62-56 lead into the break.
The third quarter was mostly a stalemate, with the Hawks lead hovering around five points for the majority of the frame. Atlanta’s lead sat at 90-81 entering the fourth.
It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter that the Celtics fell down by double digits for the first time all night. Atlanta continued to surge ahead, and closed the game out without much of a sweat.
Tatum finished with a team-high 35 points on 11-of-22 shooting, to go along with six rebounds and six assists. Brown added 22 points, as well as nine assists. Thompson turned in a complete effort in the loss, with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Payton Pritchard (11 points) was the only other Celtic in double figures.
For Atlanta, Trae Young scored a game-high 40 points. He was supported by a 24-point, 13-rebound double-double from Clint Capela.
The loss drops the Celtics back to .500 on the season at 14-14. They’ll get another chance at Atlanta on Friday, with the Hawks staying in town for a two-game set. That one tips off at 7:30, with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth.