See, silver linings can be found in losses. After losing 105-97 to the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics are now tied with the Orlando Magic for the third worst record in the NBA. At 23-55, the Celtics would have a significantly higher chance at a top draft pick with the third best odds as opposed to the fourth.
As for the game, some positives can also be found despite the "heartbreaking" loss. Avery Bradley was sensational with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and Jared Sullinger continued to knock down clutch shots on his way to 15 points and 11 rebounds. Rajon Rondo also looked like his former self offensively, picking up another double double with 19 points and 12 assists.
The Celtics and Hawks got off to a steaming start down in "Hotlanta." Atlanta's Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll both had 7 points during the first quarter, and Jared Sullinger had 6 of his own for Boston. Nobody could stop the juice, as both teams shot a combined 63.2 percent, but Atlanta's stroke was dripping, at 77.8 percent (14-of-18).
Boston continued splashing shots throughout the second quarter, shooting 10-of-28 once again. Avery Bradley led the way with 10 points, but both Chris Johnson and Rajon Rondo pitched in with 7 each. However, Atlanta's shooting dried out, though they still led at halftime, 56-51.
Defense "Ain't No Thang"
Goodness gracious! Was there any defense at all during the first half of this basketball game? Both teams were letting the other score at will, with 46 combined points in the paint. There were a handful of open shots on the perimeter as well thanks to the lazy defense.
Danny Ainge sat in as a color announcer tonight and constantly criticized the overall defense. He mentioned how both teams lack rim protectors, which shines some more light on one of Boston's offseason needs.
Boston was "So Fresh, So Clean" in the third
Brad Stevens must've ripped his team during half time, because their adjustments to start the third quarter were absolutely sensational. They held Atlanta to only 14 points on 25 percent shooting, due to some stellar defense from the entire team. The energy was high, which is the type of spirit this team needs if they want to win any of their remaining games.
Offensively, the C's stayed hot. Jeff Green hit two deep three-pointers as he helped Boston on their way to a 21-9 run to end the period. Rondo also had a terrific quarter, dishing out 5 assists with no turnovers. The Celtics led 77-70 entering the final frame, which was their largest lead of the game so far.
The fourth quarter was a "Funky Ride"
Hopefully you remembered that every game is an adventure for the Boston Celtics! Despite leading by seven at the start of the period, the final 12 minutes was a total barn burner. The C's maintained their lead until there was less than five minutes left when the Hawks exploded for a quick 5-0 run because of a three, dunk, and steal by Jeff Teague.
Atlanta then took a 90-89 lead after a Kyle Korver let his spirit fly with a huge three-pointer. But Sullinger answered, taking back the lead. But guess what? The Celtics had a lapse on defense and let Korver drill another three to take back a 93-92 lead. The Hawks continued their run to increase the lead to 99-92.
But you should know the Celtics by now. With less than 90 seconds remaining, they made their run. Avery Bradley hit two free throws and the team played hard defense in an attempt to stall Atlanta's run. But their effort came up short, as they lost, 105-97.
Are you enjoying the ride?
Boston will play their final back-to-back of the season, starting at home on Friday against Charlotte, and then on Saturday against Cleveland.