ATLANTA, GEORGIA — It wasn’t easy, but the Celtics extended their win streak to 9 games with a tight 3-point win. Atlanta, fresh off of yesterday’s big win against the floundering Cavaliers, scrapped their way to an even contest and took advantage of a Celtic team that wasn’t as sharp as they had been in previous games.
The Celtics didn’t play the brand of defensive basketball that fans have become accustomed to during this winning streak. They looked less cohesive and communicative overall. Boston entered the night with the league’s top ranked defensive rating, and had previously held every opponent during the winning streak to under 95 points.
On the second night of a back-to-back, Brad Stevens called on his bench for some early minutes. With Marcus Morris sitting out and still working up to full speed, Abdel Nader, Shane Larkin, and Daniel Theis were each given decent sized shifts in the first half.
The Hawks shot 55 percent in the first half, doing the majority of their damage in the high pick-and-roll. In particular, Boston had no answer for Dwayne Dedmon, who torched them for 13 points and 6 boards through two quarters.
After Atlanta jumped out to a seven point lead to begin the third, Boston answered with a 16-to-3 run, which gave the Celtics a seven point lead heading into the fourth.
The Hawks continued to claw away, eventually grabbing the lead with four minutes to go in regulation. Boston and Atlanta traded baskets down the stretch, but big 3-pointers from Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum with less than two minutes to go put the game out of reach. The young rebuilding Hawks played admirably, but Boston’s offensive execution proved to be a little too much.
The Hawks shot 48.1% on the night. Perpetual irritant Dennis Schroder led the home team with 23 points and 6 assists. Dedmon finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Veteran sharpshooter Marco Belinelli added 17 points off of the bench.
Al Horford returned to the place he called home for nine seasons, and was one helper shy of a triple-double. He finished with 15 points, 9 assists, and 10 boards, which included a skying hammer dunk.
Al Horford fakes, drives inside for the dunk pic.twitter.com/lbs0xCRDSp— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 7, 2017
With Jaylen Brown hampered by foul trouble early on, Jayson Tatum was the primary offensive option on the wing. The rookie posted 21 points and 8 boards on 6-of-12 shooting, including a few clutch catch-and-shoot jumpers from the corner.
Kyrie Irving added a game-high 32 points and chipped in 7 dimes. Irving’s playmaking has been superb during this winning streak, and he delivered a few beautiful cross court jump passes tonight. Per usual, he did some typical Kyrie things as well.
Kyrie Irving is Basketball Houdini pic.twitter.com/JPWXIk2Ii6— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 7, 2017
With the win, the Celtics sweep their brief 3-game road trip. Next up, they will host the Lakers on Wednesday night for the first of two opportunities that Boston will have to help their 2018 draft lottery odds.