Celtics-Hawks takeaways: Jays make a statement in crucial Game 4 win


The Hawks made them work for it, but the Boston Celtics will leave Atlanta with a 3-1 series lead.

The Celtics regained control of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Hawks on Sunday night, fending off Atlanta down the stretch to earn a 129-121 victory in Game 4.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the C's with 31 points apiece, while Marcus Smart (19 points) and Derrick White (18 points) stepped up offensively as well. Big man Robert Williams stuff the stat sheet with 13 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

Celtics Talk POSTGAME POD: MASK OFF... Celtics bounce back to take commanding 3-1 series lead | Listen & Subscribe

Trae Young paced the Hawks with 35 points, while DeAndre Hunter added 27 and Dejounte Murray chipped in 23. But Tatum and Brown both hit key shots down the stretch to seal the victory.

Boston now has the chance to end the series Tuesday night at TD Garden in Game 5. But first, here are our takeaways from Sunday's victory.

Jayson Tatum delivers on both ends

Superstars find a way to impact winning when their shots aren't falling. Exhibit A: Jayson Tatum early in Game 4.

Tatum was rusty in the first half with just 14 points on 4 of 12 shooting (1 for 7 from 3-point range) through two quarters. But the All-Star forward made his presence felt defensively by blocking three shots -- tied for his second-most swats this season.

Tatum wouldn't be denied the whole game, however. As the Hawks made their run in the fourth quarter, the All-Star forward finally came to life offensively, pouring in 16 points over the final 12 minutes to keep Atlanta at bay.

Tatum's offensive awakening played a key role in Boston's victory, but his defensive impact shouldn't go overlooked. When your best player is giving that much effort on the defensive end, that's a recipe for success.

Jaylen Brown swaps his mask for buckets

Brown also struggled out of the gate in Game 4, missing six of his first seven shots. Apparently his mask was to blame.

With 9:01 remaining in the second quarter, Brown ditched the mask he'd worn since the All-Star break to protect a facial fracture he suffered on Feb. 8.

The move clearly worked, as mask-less Brown went 11-of-15 over the rest of the game to surge past the 30-point mark.

Brown had relatively quiet nights offensively in Games 2 and 3 and didn't look like himself early in Game 4. But the aggressive version of the All-Star wing returned as soon as he ditched the mask.

Don't expect to see that mask in Game 5.

Celtics clean up on the glass

The Celtics grabbed just 29 rebounds in Game 3. They had 32 by halftime of Game 4.

Boston made a concerted effort to control the boards Sunday night, and it paid off, as the C's won the rebounding battle 49-42.

Robert Williams in particular was a menace at the rim, finishing with a game-high 15 rebounds -- including 12 in the first half, the most in a playoff game since Kendrick Perkins in 2008.

The Hawks actually out-rebounded the Celtics in the second half, which helped fuel their late comeback. That's a reflection of how much the boards battle matters in this series, and C's did just enough on the glass in Game 4 to stay ahead of Atlanta.

C's guard trio steps up

The Celtics have one of the deepest backcourts in the league, and that was evident Sunday night.

Boston's three primary guards -- Smart, White and Malcolm Brogdon -- all hit double figures to combine for 51 points.

Smart followed up his 24-point effort in Game 3 with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting while hitting three 3-pointers, giving him eight in the last two games.

Meanwhile, White continues to be one of Boston's best offensive players and is now averaging 19.8 points over four games vs. Atlanta.

Oh, and then there's the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Brogdon, who chipped in a solid 14 points off the bench.

It's an incredible luxury for the Celtics to have three players who can all create their own offense when either Tatum or Brown aren't on their A-game. This trio's play is a big reason why Boston is up 3-1 in the series.

Contact Us