The Boston Celtics will head to Atlanta with a 2-0 advantage in their first-round playoff series.
They got off to a slow start in Tuesday's Game 2 showdown vs. the Hawks, but they quickly snapped out of their funk and put on a show for the TD Garden crowd. After trailing by 11 points early on, the C's took a 15-point lead into the half and led by as many as 22 points in the game as they cruised to a 119-106 victory.
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Dejounte Murray was one of the Hawks' only offensive bright spots as he led Atlanta with 29 points (7-13 3PT). Trae Young added 24 points.
Game 3 is set for Friday at 7 p.m. ET with coverage starting at 6 p.m. right here on NBC Sports Boston. First, here are our takeaways from Boston's Game 2 win.
Big night for C's guards
The Celtics' guard depth has been one of their biggest strengths all season. Derrick White, Marcus Smart, and Malcolm Brogdon each have game-changing potential on any given night, and they combined forces to propel Boston to a win on Tuesday.
White built off his stellar Game 1 performance with an equally impressive Game 2. In addition to dropping 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, the 28-year-old added to his All-Defensive case with another outstanding effort on the defensive end. He made several hustle plays that don't show up in the box score and notched three blocks. The TD Garden crowd showered him with MVP chants when he stepped to the free-throw line.
“I think he’s just more confident, more comfortable, has more of an identity,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said of White before Tuesday's game.
Smart made winning plays in all facets of the game. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year finished with 14 points (6-11 FG) and stepped up as a playmaker with six assists. He added five boards and two steals, providing a spark whenever the C's needed one.
Brogdon bounced back after a quiet Game 1. The Atlanta native started off strong with seven points, six assists, and five rebounds in the first half and continued to bring a boost off the bench in the final two frames.
In 28 minutes, Brogdon was a team-best +20 while tallying 13 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds. The NBA Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner added a steal and a block to his stat line.
The Celtics gave the Hawks fits at the rim all night long. While Boston dominated with a whopping 64 points in the paint, Atlanta was forced to attempt more 3-pointers (48) than it did all season because of the C's resistance inside.
Boston totaled 12 blocks in Game 2. White (five blocks in last two games) and Al Horford contributed three apiece, Brown and Robert Williams swatted away two shots each, and Tatum and Brogdon both had blocks of their own.
As our Darren Hartwell noted, the Celtics' 12 blocks tied for their fourth-most ever in a postseason game. Atlanta simply has no answer for Boston's defensive presence inside the paint.
Cleaning the glass
There weren't many negatives to take away from Tuesday night's victory. But if we're going to nitpick, the Celtics will look to improve their effort on the offensive boards Friday in Atlanta.
The Hawks, despite being the smaller team, had the 19-5 advantage on the offensive glass for 13 second-chance points. De'Andre Hunter brought down eight of Atlanta's 19 offensive rebounds. Of course, the Celtics' struggles in that area didn't end up costing them as they were superior in every other facet of the game. It'll still be something they'll look to clean up in Game 3 and the remainder of their postseason run.