ATLANTA – Instead of bouncing back, the Boston Celtics find themselves getting beat down for the second time in as many nights with the Atlanta Hawks dominating the first half which ended with the Hawks ahead 71-55.
Following Wednesday’s 114-91 home loss to Cleveland, players talked about the need to get back on the floor and get back on a winning track.
Instead, they were simply steamrolled by an Atlanta team that played with a greater sense of urgency.
Nowhere was this more noticeable than how the Hawks controlled the boards, offensively and defensively, which more than anything else put the Celtics in a hole they just could not bounce back from.
In the first, a Kelly Olynyk lay-up cut Atlanta’s lead to 20-18 in the first.
From there, it was all Atlanta as the Hawks rolled on with a 12-0 spurt and seemed on the verge of pulling away before Marcus Smart drained back-to-back 3’s that brought the Celtics within 32-24 after the first quarter.
Boston slowly cut into Atlanta’s lead, leading to a Hawks time-out with 9: 37 to play in the half after a Jae Crowder lay-up cut Atlanta’s lead down to 36-32.
The Celtics’ continued on the comeback trail, tying the game up at 38-all following a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder and later, a 3-point play by Avery Bradley (44-44).
But as the Celtics drew near, the Hawks did just enough to maintain a lead. And similar to the first half, they went on a strong surge about midway through the quarter which gave them a 54-44 lead following a 3-pointer by Kent Bazemore.
Boston head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out with 4:11 to play in the half.
But it did little to slow down the steadily increasing momentum of the Hawks who took a commanding lead into the half as they looked to move one step closer towards securing a playoff berth.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Thursday’s game between Boston and Atlanta.
One of the big surprises in the first half was Prince who scored the Hawks’ first seven points. He would finish the half with 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
Thomas was doing what he tends to do all the time – get buckets. He led the Celtics with 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
He has averaged 17-plus points as a starter, and he’s well on his way to surpassing that total. At the half, Hardaway has 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
His left elbow may still have some soreness in it, but it certainly didn’t affect his shooting in the first half Crowder had 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field.
For the second time in as many games, Bradley had a horrible first half shooting the ball. He has eight points on 3-for-10 shooting.
Horford has been as big a non-factor in the first half as we’ve seen him all season. He is scoreless after taking just one shot from the field, with one rebound and three assists.