So it turns out maybe NBA players love day games?
On the even of St. Patrick’s day, the Celtics and Hawks gave the fans a bit of a show with a pace that at time reached all-star levels. When the smoke cleared it was the Celtics who were able to last longer than their opponent.
The tone was set early from the first quarter with the Celtics and Hawks combining for 79(!!!) first quarter points. Neither team seemed particularity interested in playing defense but there was also some fantastic shotmaking on both sides led by Kyrie Irving and Trae Young. The two were hellbent on controlling the game with Irving edging Young out early as the team squeaked out to a 43-36 first quarter lead.
Boston eventually pushed the lead to double-digits at about the mid-way point of the second quarter on a pretty post move score by Marcus Smart.
Smart's out here making all of the plays pic.twitter.com/IBrl6IxExk— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 16, 2019
The themes that emerged from the second quarter were Smart’s defensive energy and the teams unselfishness. Smart pestered Young relentlessly at the point of attack, slowing down the Hawks red-hot offense and allowing the Celtics to start to find themselves on the defensive end a bit more. The combination of Smart’s pressure with the Celtics opting to match the Hawks two-big lineups with their own really helped the Celtics initially take control of the game. On the flip side, the Celtics ball movement was fantastic with the team corralling 20 first half assists. Jaylen Brown also had a huge first half of his own providing 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists and continuing his hot post all-star break.
First Half Stats
Halftime: Boston 74, Atlanta 62 pic.twitter.com/cUNE6yMCJf— Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) March 16, 2019
The Celtics came out with same energy they finished the first half with and got off to a quick 19-point lead after back-to-back three’s from Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving.
At one point Boston was able to push the lead up to as high as (25) due to a 14-3 run at the end of the frame but the Hawks countered with a 14-2 run of their own and were able to escape the frame down only 13.
Morris Sr. from downtown... Bottoms. pic.twitter.com/SMKXXkfTbV— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 16, 2019
With Hayward out due to a 1st quarter back injury and Horford heading to the locker room in the third, things became dicey entering the 4th for the Celtics. They had a lineup featuring Rozier as the lone ball-handler which has spelled trouble for most of the season. By the 7:25 mark of the 4th a Young 3pt bucket pulled the Hawks within three at 109-106.
With the game tied at 112 apiece, a Smart transition steal after a Morris turnover lead to a Brown three, then on the ensuing possession Brown drew a charge and then scored again to push the Celtics lead back to up 5.
Beautiful ball movement and Brown drains it from the corner! pic.twitter.com/K6sbOa9J66— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 16, 2019
With 48.5 seconds left in the game the Celtics found themselves up 125-120 trying to hold off one last Hawks push. After a Dedmon miss, Horford was fouled where he was able to split the FT’s and give the C’s a 6-point lead. On the next possession, the Hawks were able to get Collins a look in the paint but known defensive stopper Kyrie Irving came from the weak side and blocked his first attempt, allowing Horford the time to recover and get a piece of the next attempt before Celtics were able to regain possession and get Brown to the line where hit both his FT’s and put the Celtics up 8 with about 16.5 seconds left to ice the game.