Keys to the Game: Celtics 107, Hawks 98

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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50's Night Presented by Wellesly Mazda

Key Moment

Something changed during halftime of Tuesday night’s matchup between the Celtics and the Hawks. Whatever it was, it was a good thing for Boston.

The Celtics trailed by 14 points at the break after Atlanta picked apart Boston’s defense to the tune of 65 points on 52.3 percent shooting during the first two quarters. That 14-point deficit was erased in short order, however, once the third period opened up.

Boston required only three-plus minutes to score the first 14 points of the half and knot the score up at 65-65. Jayson Tatum scored half of them, including the final four of the run. Al Horford (three), Robert Williams (two) and Marcus Smart (two) combined to score the other seven points.

While the offense certainly was clicking, it was the defense that flipped the script and became nothing short of dominant. Boston held Atlanta without a point for the first 4:33 of the second half, all while forcing the Hawks into seven straight misses.

One of the key defensive moments of the stretch was when Marcus Smart did a Marcus Smart thing by drawing an offensive foul on All-Star point guard Trae Young. Young had attempted to draw a foul on Smart by leaning in and taking a 3-pointer. Smart, however, defended the play perfectly and avoided landing in Young’s airspace while contesting the shot. The nearby referee determined that the contact was initiated by Young, and in turn, Young had committed an offensive foul.

Plays like that got the Celtics started, and they never slowed down from that moment on. Boston went on to outscore the Hawks 56-33 during the second half and comfortably logged a 107-98 victory.

Key Player

Grant Threelliams – Sorry, Grant Williams, put together another stellar effort Tuesday night, adding to a long list of such efforts this season.

Williams boosted his chances of logging a rare 50-40-90 season by canning six of his 11 shots, two of his four 3-pointers, and all four of his free throws en route to an 18-point performance against the Hawks. He is now shooting 49.2 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from long range and 92.1 percent from the free-throw line this season. On this night, Williams’ 18 points tied teammate Derrick White for the highest mark among reserves on the team.

The versatile forward also hauled in seven rebounds on the night to lead all bench players. In fact, his seven rebounds fell just one shy of the eight total rebounds Atlanta’s bench players combined to grab.

Williams also contributed one assist and one blocked shot during his 27-plus minutes of action.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Grant Williams and Derrick White each scored 18 points off the bench for Boston.
  • Boston scored 63 points over the middle two quarters of the game.
  • The Celtics dished out 27 assists, compared to only 15 by Atlanta.
  • Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 33 points and also dished out a game-high seven assists.
  • Trae Young led the Hawks with 31 points.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic led all reserves with 25 points.
  • Robert Williams led the game in rebounds with 13.
  • Robert Williams (two) and Al Horford (four) combined to block six shots, which is two more than Atlanta's entire team logged.
  • Boston outscored Atlanta 20-3 in second-chance points.
  • Aaron Nesmith did not score a point, but he finished as a plus-10 in the plus/minus category during nearly 17 minutes of action.

Quote of the Night

Ime Udoka on Aaron Nesmith