C's-Hawks takeaways: White, Grant Williams step up in Jaylen's absence


The Boston Celtics showed their resiliency Tuesday night with a hard-fought win over the Atlanta Hawks.

After trailing by 14 at the half, the C's outscored Atlanta by 18 in the third quarter and held on for the 107-98 victory. They overcame an early injury to Jaylen Brown with stellar second-half defense and standout performances from Jayson Tatum (33 points), Derrick White and Grant Williams (18 points apiece). Boston entered Tuesday 0-9 this season when trailing by 11 or more at halftime.

Trae Young dropped 22 points in the first half for Atlanta, but he finished with 31 as Boston's defense buckled down. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 25 points off the bench.

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Here are our takeaways from the Celtics' win, which brings them to 37-27 on the season. Next up is an anticipated Thursday night matchup vs. MVP candidate Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.

Jaylen Brown's injury raises concerns

We'll start with the bad news. Brown exited Tuesday night's game due to a right ankle sprain and did not return. The 25-year-old suffered the injury while driving to the basket in the first quarter.

You can watch the play below:

The Celtics responded with a gritty comeback victory, but the focus will quickly shift back to Brown's ankle once the celebration is over. Boston has a tough game ahead vs. Memphis, followed by matchups with the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets.

Head coach Ime Udoka said after the game that Brown wanted to continue to play, but was kept out as a precaution.

No timetable has been set for Brown's return, but those are games in which his absence undoubtedly would be felt if he were to miss time. They'll need him healthy to continue their ascent in the Eastern Conference standings.

 Derrick White, Grant Williams step up

Tatum's 33 points speak for themselves, but the Celtics needed the supporting cast to step up in Brown's absence. Derrick White and Grant Williams delivered with stellar performances off the bench.

White made his presence felt in the third quarter with seven straight points in only 66 seconds. He finished with 18 points (7-13 FG), the most he's scored since joining the Celtics at the trade deadline. He also notched five assists while playing the stellar defense that brought him to Boston.

Williams also was outstanding on both ends of the floor. Boston's third-year forward tallied 18 points (6-11 FG, 2-4 3-PT), seven boards, and a block in 28 minutes. Eight of his points came in the fourth quarter.

If Brown misses time, these are the guys the Celtics will lean on. They provided plenty of reason for optimism on Tuesday night.

Celtics' elite defense returns

As we noted after Boston's loss to the Indiana Pacers after Boston's loss to the Indiana Pacers, it was an off weekend for the Celtics' usually-stout defense. Those uncharacteristic struggles carried into the first half of Tuesday night's game.

The C's were outscored 28-19 in the first quarter, then they allowed 37 points in the second. They had no answer for Trae Young, who went off for 22 points in the first half despite briefly leaving the game with a left ankle sprain.

But Boston's elite defense, which ranks second in the NBA with a 105.0 rating, showed its true colors after halftime. The Celtics stormed back from their 14-point deficit while allowing only 33 total points in the second half. Making the effort even more impressive is it came against the second-best offense in the league (114.0 rating).

Marcus Smart put the exclamation point on the defensive clinic with a key block in the fourth quarter, followed by a Grant Williams 3-ball.

The Celtics will look to carry that momentum into Thursday night's showdown vs. Morant and the Grizzlies at TD Garden.

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