The Boston Celtics saw their fair share of double-digit leads disappear during the regular season. Those late-game issues carried into Saturday afternoon's Game 1 showdown with the Atlanta Hawks.
After a dominant first half, the C's watched their 32-point lead shrink to only 12 points early in the fourth quarter. They kept Atlanta from cutting it to single digits, but they took the foot off the gas pedal enough to make the fans at TD Garden sweat out the final minutes of the 112-99 win.
Celtics Talk: Celtics cruise to the Game 1 win vs. Hawks after dominant first half | Listen & Subscribe
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Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla addressed the Hawks' run during his postgame press conference.
"Obviously, they didn't have a great first half so they're going to make a run. It's just part of it," he said. "I just thought we lost our offensive purpose. Playing passive offense instead of just keeping it moving, being aggressive, and maintaining that level of pace that we had in the first half."
Did the team's second-half woes concern him?
"Yeah, I'm very concerned," Mazzulla answered sarcastically. "No, I'm not concerned at all. This team has played great for the entire season. That's going to happen.
"It's actually good that we went through it. We had to feel that. And it's important that we learn from it. So for us to be able to get a win, and at the same time know that we can play better, is good."
Despite the less-than-stellar second half, the win never appeared to be in jeopardy for the Celtics. Whenever the Hawks pulled within 12, Boston responded with clutch shots to keep the game out of reach. Still, their habit of letting opponents back into the game is one they'll look to break sooner rather than later. As Mazzulla states, Game 1 may have been the learning experience they needed.
Celtics-Hawks Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. ET Tuesday at TD Garden. You can catch the action right here on NBC Sports Boston, starting with Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m.