Friday, April 28, 2023

Celtics 128, Hawks 120: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum put away Atlanta in Game 6 [BOS wins series, 4-2]

The Celtics finally put away the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night, in a 128-120 Game 6 victory at State Farm Arena to clinch their first-round best-of-7 series 4-2 and advance to the semifinals.

Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 32 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including going 6-of-8 from deep. Jayson Tatum also notched 30 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks, while Marcus Smart added 22 points on 6-of-12 from the field.
"We was able to pull away at the end," Brown said in postgame presser. "You know it ain't gotta be pretty, you just have to figure out how to do it and that's what we did."
After a disappointing Game 5 loss at home, Boston got some help from Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon with 17 points off the bench and the veteran Al Horford came through with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks to eliminate the Hawks on the road. 

Trae Young; the hero from Tuesday night in Boston, started Game 6 right where he left off less than 48 hours earlier hitting 8-of-15 from the floor and scoring 25 of his 30 points by halftime. But in the final two quarters the All-Star guard was limited to just 1-of-13 from the floor for the Hawks, who were eliminated in the first-round for the second consecutive season.
"Marcus [Smart] was being way more aggressive and he wasn't leaving me as much," said Young during his postgame comments when asked about the defense played on him in the second half versus the first. "In the first half they were playing more team defense. I was able to catch the ball with a lot of dribble -- attack right away and create some space that way. But in the second half [Smart] was more connected to me and when I didn't have the ball he was still facing me and still connected to me. They just picked up the was tough."
De'Andre Hunter was 4-of-8 from 3-point range and had 20 points, while John Collins added 16 points and Dejounte Murray returned from his one-game suspension to chip in 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and 11 assists in Atlanta's loss.

Boston barely had a 68-67 lead at the break in a rather tight game that featured 22 lead changes and 15 ties, before they were able to pull away after trailing 113-110 with 6:24 left to play in the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown, a wide open Horford on a pass from Smart and Tatum's 3-ball, plus a put-back dunk capped off an 11-0 run to put the Celtics up for good -- on their way to outscore Atlanta 18-7 in the final minutes.

After giving up a 13-point advantage late in Game 5, Boston refused to squander away another double-digit lead on Thursday night and avoided a potential Game 7 back at home.
"We talked about finishing the game," Horford told reporters. "I felt the last game, for the most part, we were fine. But tonight there was that sense of urgency. We understood how important it was to not extend the series."
The Celtics will open up Game 1 of their second-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night at TD Garden and TNT has the tip-off at 7:30 ET. 

Game Notes:

Boston was 50% from the field, including 18-of-42 (42.9%) from behind the arc, while the Hawks were 46.8% from the floor and 15-of-35 (42.9%) from long distance. The Celtics out-rebounded Atlanta 47-45 and outscored them in the paint 54-50. The C's finished with 24 assists (seven turnovers) on 47 baskets and the home team had 28 dimes (10 turnovers) on 44 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy Getty Images

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