Sunday, April 16, 2023

Celtics 112, Hawks 99: Jaylen Brown scores 29, Boston rolls past Atlanta in Game 1 [BOS leads series 1-0]

The Celtics picked up a 112-99 victory over the Atlanta Hawks Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-7 opening series Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, the first win in what they hope to be a deep playoff run.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the way with a combined 54 points for Boston. Tatum had it going early on, as he dropped 13 in the first quarter alone, and had 21 points by halftime, before ending the game with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists on 10-of-23 from the field, including 3of-7 from long distance and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. 

Brown, who was playing through a laceration on his right finger that he had taped up, dropped 29 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists, on 12-of-23 shooting including 3-of-6 from deep and 3-of-3 from the stripe. Brown, who also had six turnovers, said he was having a hard time gripping the ball and the cut "split open" at one point in the first half. It will be examined Sunday and is a situation to monitor.
"I thought he was just trying to figure out how to play with it at first," C's head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Brown dealing with the finger laceration. "I thought his shot selection was good, he was intentional on the defensive end, and I thought he did a great job being locked in on both ends of the floor," Mazzulla added.
Boston's All-Stars were not the only big contributors, however, as Derrick White also poured in 24 points, seven assists, and five rebounds while going 7-of-13 from the field, 4-of-7 from three, and 6-of-7 from the line. White also played excellent defense, fighting through numerous screens and serving as the primary defender on Hawks superstar point guard Trae Young.

One of the bigger storylines of the game were the struggles of Young, who was largely held in check and had just 16 points on a rough shooting performance of 5-of-18 from the field, 1-of-5 from three, and 5-of-7 from the line. 

Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 24 points on 10-of-25 from the floor, including missing all six of his 3-point attempts. He also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists, while Clint Capela and John Collins each netted 12 points respectively. Atlanta shot just 5-of-29 as a team from beyond the arc for the game.

The Celtics led 32-24 early in the second quarter before blowing it open by going on a 27-8 extended run and led by as much as 32 at one point.
"We were just locked in from the beginning," Tatum said in his postgame presser.
Later in the second half, the Hawks were able to cut their deficit down to 12 after Boston took their foot off the gas for a bit, but the home team was able to hold off a late game rally -- essentially leading in a wire-to-wire.
"We gotta be a little bit better in those situations," Tatum said. "Human nature plays a part, but we don't want things like that to haunt us coming up."
Although Atlanta cut the largest lead by 20, the Celtics never let it get back down to single digits. The C's also out-rebounded the Hawks by a wide margin of 58-45, something that was a point of emphasis going into the series for Boston.

The Celtics will look to extend its series lead to 2-0 against Atlanta, with Game 2 set for Tuesday night at 7:00 ET on NBA TV.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 47.7% from the field, including 13-of-33 from 3-point territory, while the Hawks were 38.8% from the floor and 17.2% from long distance. The Celtics dished out 25 assists (17 turnovers) on 42 baskets to Atlanta's 23 dimes (11 turnovers) on 38 made shots. Both teams finished with 54 points apiece in the paint.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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