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Halftime Hot Takes: Hawks shooting 65%, lead Celtics 74-67

Celtics hit 15 threes, but Hawks score 34 points in the paint

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

New Matchups, Same Problems

Atlanta Hawks Coach Quin Snyder indicated before the game that he would switch up the defensive matchups. The only change was placing Clint Capela on Marcus Smart. Earlier in Smart’s career, defenders would stay back in the paint and let him shoot threes, but more often than not (and especially in the playoffs), Smart made them pay (J.J. Redick had a good anecdote about this on his podcast). While Smart has improved his shooting over his career, leaving him open appears to be the only option for Atlanta, who looked helpless defensively over the first two games. He missed his first two threes, but swished his third from the corner, tying the score at 12 at the 7:20 mark of the 1st quarter. He would hit three more from deep with Onyeka Okogwu as the primary defender.

Grant Gets Minutes

While I was surprised Grant Williams got two straight DNP-CDs to open the series, upon further examination, I understand Joe Mazzulla’s reasoning. Tatum has the physical advantage guarding John Collins, and platooning Horford and Timelord as the sole bigs is a sound strategy. Grant’s not good enough as a rebounder to be the only big, and he has a matchup disadvantage guarding a wing. Tonight, he entered the game at the 6:27 mark of the 1st quarter, immediately drained a three, then hit two more by halftime. Defensively, he guarded Okongwu while Robert Williams was the roamer.

3’s Galore

The Celtics missed their first four 3’s of the game as the Hawks took an early lead. However, they responded by connecting on their next four, and they finished the 1st quarter shooting 9-of-16 from deep. Tatum had three, while Smart, Brogdon, and Grant each had two. They would end up hitting six more in the 2nd quarter, but Atlanta wasn’t bad themselves, shooting 8-of-15 in the half (with their bench shooting 100%).

Atlanta’s Bench Scores 35 Points

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Hawks have played better with Trey Young off the floor, that a first round sweep could lead him getting shipped out of town. Tonight, so far, has backed up that narrative. Atlanta’s bench made 11 of their first 12 shots, with their only miss being a Jalen Johnson contested dunk. Saddiq Bey (12 points) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (15 points) were automatic, and the Hawks took an lead early in the 2nd quarter and wouldn’t give it up. Bodganovic hit a contested 30-footer at with 5:34 left in the half, then two straight DeJounte Murray midrangers capped off a 13-3 run for Atlanta. Scoring 74 points, Atlanta set franchise playoff record for points in a half.

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