Following Wednesday night’s fall-apart loss and Danny Ainge’s explosive comments on Thursday, the Celtics needed to make a statement. They did just that on Friday, topping the Hawks 121-109 at TD Garden.
Not only was it a bounce back win for the Celtics, but a dominant performance as well. They led nearly wire-to-wire, and by as many as 27 points late in the third quarter.
The Celtics came out of the gate with a statement quarter. They shot 62 percent from the field, with Kemba Walker (eight points) leading the way. Defensively, allowed just 22 points, after failing to hold the Hawks to fewer than 28 in any of the four quarters on Wednesday. After one frame, Boston was up 33-22.
In the second quarter, the C’s kept the pedal to the metal. Walker added another 12 points, and had 20 at the half. On the defensive end, Robert Williams grabbed two steals and had two blocks (plus some smooth alley-oop finishes on the other end). The Celtics went into the break with a monumental 66-41 lead.
Boston started spreading the scoring around more in the third quarter, namely to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tristan Thompson was also in the middle of the offense – he had 17 points through three quarters, tying his season high. Entering the fourth, the Celtics were up 98-73.
Atlanta was able to make things interesting in the fourth, using a 28-10 run to get within nine points with five minutes to play. It was Daniel Theis who carried the Celtics to the finish, scoring 10 of the C’s last 12 points, including six straight.
Walker, who didn’t play in Wednesday’s loss, finished with a team-high and season-high 28 points on 10-16 shooting. He also added six assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
In a well-rounded scoring effort, Walker was just one of six Celtics to score in double figures. Tatum posted 25 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, and three blocks. Brown and Thompson each scored 17. Theis flirted with a double-double, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds, as well as three blocks. Robert Williams was the bench’s leading scorer, contributing 12 points and four blocks in just 16 minutes.
For Atlanta, Trae Young was much more subdued than he was in the game on Wednesday. The Hawks’ point guard did post a game-high 31 points with 11 assists, but was not as much of a factor in the overall flow of the game. Clint Capela showed up big against the C’s yet again, he scored 24.
With the win, the Celtics move back above .500 to 15-14. They return to action on Sunday, when they travel to New Orleans to face Zion Williamson and the Pelicans. That game is scheduled to tip off at 3:30 p.m., with pregame coverage starting at 3:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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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 or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.