Without star big man Kristaps Porzingis, who will be sidelined for at least a week due to a calf injury, the Boston Celtics prevailed with a 113-103 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday thanks to bench players stepping up in a big way. With the 7-foot-3 center unavailable to play, the Celtics leaned on veteran Al Horford and two-way big Neemias Queta.
Horford shifted his efforts to focus on the rebounding game, logging a team-high 15 -- his most since 2022. Along with his efforts on the glass, Horford also tallied three assists, two blocks, and a steal.
The big man struggled to find his shot, scoring only six points on 3-of-8 shooting and going 0-of-5 from deep, but it fortunately did not affect the overall outcome of the game.
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In only his second game with Boston's NBA squad, two-way player Neemias Queta received a season-high 15 minutes of playing time, taking full advantage to showcase what he can do. Coming up in a huge way on the boards, Queta logged the second-most rebounds on the team with 10, helping the Celtics achieve a season-high of 58 total rebounds and 18 offensive boards.
Outside of rebounding, Queta was also responsible for seven points on 3-of-8 shooting and a steal. What won't show on the stat sheet, however, was his ability to play drop-back defense, showcasing his potential to become a quality rim-protector in this league.
Surprisingly, Queta logged more minutes than Luke Kornet, who had seemingly already secured a spot within Boston's nightly rotation. In only nine minutes of play, Kornet secured four points on 2-of-2 shooting, two rebounds, a steal, and a block.
Following Sunday night's win, star player Jayson Tatum spoke with NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin on the impressive contributions from players who don't normally get many minutes.
"It's a big team win," Tatum said. "Guys that maybe don't play as much, or play at all, getting a chance to come out here and help us get a win -- and that's a true test of a good team, when guys are out, and you can find a way to win. It was a big game, and everybody played well, everybody contributed."
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With Jrue Holiday also out of the lineup, guard Dalano Banton entered the starting five. In 19 minutes of play, the 23-year-old secured eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, five rebounds, and an assist.
The Celtics will look to carry their momentum into their next matchup Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls at 7:30 p.m. ET in a must-win In-Season Tournament game.