2/7 Recap: Celtics squeak by Hawks for sixth straight victory winning 112-107
Marcus Smart returned from injury against the Hawks tonight scoring 9 points in the Celtics' sixth straight win. Photo via the Boston Celtics on Twitter @celtics.
After a back and forth game that never should have been as close as it was, the Boston Celtics barely beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-107 to secure their sixth straight win. While the Celtics were missing key players such as Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Daniel Theis, they still had no excuse for this even being as competitive as it was. The Hawks were missing their all-star point guard Trae Young, their newest acquisition in Clint Capela, and big role players such as Dewayne Dedmon, DeAndre' Bembry, and Cam Reddish. Nonetheless, a win is a win and hopefully, the Celtics will learn not to play down to their competition sooner rather than later.
Headband Jayson Tatum continues to thrive as he heads towards his first career all-star appearance. He played a big role in the Celtics' early offensive burst as well as keeping them in the game throughout their inconsistent play throughout the game. After 37 minutes, he finished with 32 points on 52% shooting and 6 assists, not to mention he hit a career-high7 threes which equated to nearly half of the teams' total of 16.
In his return from his relatively short absence, Kemba Walker looked slightly rusty early on in a night where he was on a 30-minute restriction. He did manage to find an extra boost of energy in the second half though and ended up totaling 15 points with 6 assists and 6 rebounds on the night. Thankfully, he stepped up when it mattered most and helped the C's win a game that shouldn't have even been close in the first place.
Also returning from injury was Celtics' guard Marcus Smart, who shot a less than desirable field goal percentage (37%) but otherwise had a so-so game, scoring 9 points with 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
Starting once again in the absence of Daniel Theis was Enes Kanter, who had a more than solid night himself. He tallied another double-double with 16 points and an impressive 15 rebounds. His biggest problem came on the defensive end, however, where he, rookie Grant Williams, and the frontcourt bench players had some trouble containing Hawks' big man John Collins, but there will be more on him later.
Speaking of Grant Williams, the rookie started tonight in place of Gordon Hayward but had a pretty slow-paced game overall. He scored just 7 points with no rebounds, which is very uncharacteristic based on the strong play on the boards he has showcased as of late.
In addition to this, I think it is worth mentioning that most of the Celtics' issues tonight came when Brad was forced to look towards the bench, especially in the first half. Of course, this comes as a result of normal bench players like Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, and Enes Kanter being inserted in the starting five thanks to all of our injuries. However, rookie Romeo Langford was the only one who had a significant contribution from the bench, scoring a career-high 16 points and playing some key minutes down the stretch. Hopefully, this lack of depth on nights like this gets dealt with either through the buyout market or by the deep bench stepping their game at some point once and for all. Otherwise, the pressure to win these shorthanded games will continue to be unfairly placed on the shoulders of one or two players every night out.
For the Hawks, it was truly troubling to see what they were able to do tonight. As mentioned before, they were literally missing about half of their normal rotation and all of their best players. However, that did not stop them from coming out and taking advantage of some lazy play early on from the Celtics. Tonight, it was John Collins who lead the way for the opposition scoring 30 points with 10 rebounds at the power forward position. Shooting guard Kevin Huerter also chipped in with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists of his own.
The Celtics' next game will be the first of a western conference road trip against the Oklahoma City Thunder this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. eastern time.