Kyrie, Smart helps Celtics avert disaster: The Celtics appeared to be cruising to their first blowout win at home in weeks, but the upstart Hawks managed to make things interesting down the stretch, erasing a 25-point lead in under 10 minutes with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving managed to help Boston avert disaster though, nearly posting a triple-double in his second straight game (30 points, career-high 11 rebounds, nine assists) to help the hosts recover for a 129-120 victory. Jaylen Brown had another big game off the Celtics bench with 23 points while Marcus Smart (16 points, nine assists, five steals) made huge defensive plays down the stretch to ensure the Celtics did not collapse at home for the second time in two straight months. Marcus Morris chipped in with his second straight double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) while Trae Young led Atlanta with 26 points. The Celtics have now won two straight and five of their last six overall.
Defense remains a lingering issue: The Celtics allowed 120 or more points for the third consecutive game as the Hawks wreaked havoc on the offensive glass (19 offensive rebounds) and the 3-point line (15 made 3s) against a Celtics defense that has been a step slow for a few games now.