Celtics

Final: Celtics 121, Hawks 109- Kemba Walker leads C’s to bounce-back win

The Boston Celtics bounced back from their rough loss to the Hawks behind a monster night from Kemba Walker and timely contributions from Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum did their part as the starters plus Robert Williams carried Boston to a 121-109 win

Walker finished with 28 points on 10-16 shooting (5-8 3pt) 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Tatum had 25 points 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Brown and Thompson each had 17 points and Theis added 14. Robert Williams had 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.

WHO: Celtics (14-14) vs. Hawks (12-16)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: TD Garden.
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston

LIVE COVERAGE

Fourth quarter

  • 17-5 Hawks run to start the 4th cut Boston's lead to 14. The Celtics started the quarter with Tatum, Aaron Nesmith, Robert Williams, Payton Pritchard, and Semi Ojeleye. Javonte Green checked in after Nesmith left the game with an injury.
  • The Celtics seemed to stabilize themselves behind a Kemba Walker 3-point play, but Trae Young assisted on (another) Clint Capela dunk and then drilled a 3. The overall run is 26-10 with 4:50 left.
  • The Celtics answered after the Hawks cut the lead to 9 by going to their bigs. Daniel Theis was at the center of the answer, but Thompson assists on two alley oops that helped hold off the Hawks.

Third quarter

  • The Celtics came out sloppy and Atlanta went on a 10-4 run. This was the Celtics team of Wednesday night... turning it over, getting lost on defense, giving up alley oops and second-chances.
  • Boston settled itself after a timeout thanks to Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and some rim defense by Daniel Theis.
  • Jaylen Brown took his turn getting hot, hitting three 3-pointers to push the lead back up to 27
  • Boston shot 4-9 from 3-point land in the quarter. After giving up that early run, the Celtics came back to play the quarter even, 32-32

Second quarter

  • Jayson Tatum scored Boston's first basket of the second quarter at the 8:30 mark. Luckily, Atlanta only had one basket in that stretch as well.
  • That triggered a quick 7-3 spurt that forced an Atlanta timeout.
  • Robert Williams has 10 points, 2 blocks, and 2 steals, and he hasn't missed a shot (5-5)
  • Kemba Walker is doing a bit of everything. His back to back 3-pointers and a 3-point play gave him 9 points in 40 seconds and 20 points in the first half
  • The Celtics shot 59.1% overall in the first half, including 8-18 from 3. They kept Atlanta to 32.6% shooting

First quarter

  • The return of Kemba Walker certainly makes a difference. He came out with 5 points and 2 rebounds in the first 4:30
  • Tristan Thompson is getting destroyed by Clint Capela. This does not bode well for Boston.
  • Jaylen Brown has 7 points on 3-3 shooting in in the first 4 minutes.
  • The Celtics have 9 assists on 12 makes and are shooting 68.8% at the 3:51 mark.
  • After giving up a couple of early offensive rebounds, the Celtics did a fine job of finishing defensive stops. They held Atlanta to 31.8% shooting

STARTING LINEUPS

Celtics
G: Kemba Walker
G: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson

Hawks

G: Trae Young
G: Kevin Huerter

F: Cam Reddish
PF: John Collins
C: Clint Capela

The Boston Celtics (14-14, 14-14 ATS) end their two-game series at TD Garden against the Atlanta Hawks (12-16, 14-14 ATS) after Atlanta took the first half, 122-114.

Jaylen Brown is questionable as he continues to battle knee tendinitis. Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis will return after the C's ran a starting lineup of four wings and a center, before stretching to Jeff Teague minutes as the entire team plummeted into foul trouble on Wednesday. Marcus Smart (calf) and Romeo Langford (wrist) remain out.

The Hawks are without Rajon Rondo (back), Kris Dunn (knee), De’Andre Hunter (knee) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) again.

According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 4.0 point favorites

  • Celtics vs. Hawks spread: Celtics -4
  • Celtics vs. Hawks over-under: 226 points
  • Celtics vs. Hawks money line: Celtics -177, Hawks +157

The Skinny 

Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela carved up the Celtics interior in what amounted to one of the worst defensive performances Boston submitted all season during Wednesday's loss, allowing Atlanta to convert 25-of-33 at the rim. The rock bottom point for Boston's interior defense plunged them to 29th in opponent shooting efficiency within five feet at 64.7%.

Capela started the game 9-of-11 from the field and Collins hit 4-of-5 in the first quarter on dives and back-line cuts. The Hawks' shooting, pick-and-rolls and movement decimated Boston, along with eight offensive rebounds.

The Hawks struggled to slow Jayson Tatum in their own right as he led the Celtics from down 13 points to within four in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Brown struggled at 6-of-20 from the field, but Atlanta sent the Jays to the line 19 times. Elsewhere, Boston's offense stalled once Semi Ojeleye, Aaron Nesmith, Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard provided inconsistent returns on catch-and-shoot looks.

Boston went zone, tried Teague twice on Young in the second half, they hacked Capela and tried nearly every wing they had in rotation. None of it worked.

Prediction 

Walker and Theis project to help the Celtics chase the Hawks into the 120s again. Neither solves the Young-Capela concerns and fouling problems that plagued the Celtics on Wednesday.

The Celtics haven't fallen below .500 yet during their inconsistent start to the season and their shooting returns swaying have played a big role in that. If Boston drilled as few more open threes and didn't get blasted during the Teague stretch in the fourth quarter, they would've been in position into the final frames of the quarter.

It wouldn't be stunning to see Brad Stevens turn back to double-big to bolster their offensive rebounding advantage and clog the paint up on defense. Walker is a solid positional defender who won't slow Young, but foul less and not allow the C's to get burned on the roll as badly.

Theis is an adept pick-and-roll defender too. Tristan Thompson pointed to positioning by guards and forwards as the biggest issue on Wednesday.

This will be another possession-for-possession game. The Celtics are in a much better position to win that kind of game with two starters back.

Boston 123, Atlanta 120 (13-10, 10-11 ATS)