NBA: It’s Fantastic... No Matter Who’s Playing
Even though this game has no bearing on playoff seedings and both teams decided to rest its starters, I enjoy games like these. Guys like JD Davison and Justin Champagnie have gotten extended minutes. It’s a huge deal for them, and scouts around the league will be watching to see how they perform in this game with no stakes. Excuse my righteous moralism, but it’s a privilege to play NBA basketball, and with this sort of game, I’m interested to see whether the end-of-bench players on both the Hawks and Celtics recognize this privilege.
Hawks at Celtics – TD Garden – April 9, 2023 – Starters— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 9, 2023
Boston –White, Pritchard, Hauser, Muscala, Griffin
Atlanta – Holiday, Griffin, Bey, Hunter, Okongwu
OUT: Bos: Tatum, R. Williams, Horford, Brown, Smart, Brogdon, Gallinari Atl: Young, Murray, Collins, Capela, Bogdanovic pic.twitter.com/FPlWsYwzTy
Boston Three Party
Sam Hauser, continuing his hot shooting from Friday night, drilled a three with 6:54 remaining in the 1st quarter to give the Celtics a 19-14 lead. It was the team’s 6th deep ball barely five minutes into the game. Though Boston set a record for two-point shooting in their last game against Toronto, their first 11 shots of the night came from beyond the arc. They’d end up shooting 8-of-18 from three, two shy of their season high for a quarter.
Problems in the Paint
The Celtics hit their threes, but Atlanta dominated the paint. De’Andre Hunter, AJ Griffin, and Jalen Johnson were getting to the rim at will, and the Hawks scored 16 of their first 24 points in the paint. Boston had only two. While Atlanta has had a disappointing season, they still have talent, especially towards the end of their rotation, and this was an opportunity for these guys to get more offensive reps before their play-in matchup against the Heat. Saddiq Bey’s tip layup with 30 seconds left in the 1st gave Atlanta their 22nd paint point of the quarter, and they led 31-29.
I loved JD Davison’s energy. From when he entered the game, he hounded the opposing ball handler on defense and pushed the ball as the point guard on offense. Justin Champagnie showed some promise, hitting a step back three and grabbing two quick offensive rebounds. He made a few absent-minded plays, but I do wonder if he could become a 9th or 10th man with the right development and coaching. Grant Williams didn’t look too happy that (1) he was dressed for the game and (2) that he wasn’t starting. Fittingly, he wasn’t playing with great energy. But it also seemed like he, Derrick White, and Blake Griffin wouldn’t be playing more than six minutes, but we’ll see in the second half.