Boston (18-10): 129– Atlanta (6-22): 108
Kyrie Irving: 24 PTS 5 REB 5 AST 4 STL
Marcus Morris: 20 PTS 6 REB 1 AST 1 STL/BLK
Jayson Tatum: 20 PTS 6 REB 1 AST 1 STL/BLK
Kevin Huerter: 19 PTS 2 REB 3 AST 3 STL 1 BLK
Kent Bazemore: 13 PTS 3 REB 7 AST 2 STL
John Collins: 11 PTS 14 REB 1 AST 1 BLK
With Gordon Hayward returning from the sickness that’s plagued him the past couple of games the Celtics had even more firepower in the rotation. They also had one of the worst teams in the NBA at their disposal and they did not mess around with them. They dropped 42 points in the first quarter and opened up a 23-point lead at the end of one. They had their lulls, while in the second quarter the Hawks went on a 22-2 run where the Celitcs went 1-10 with 4 turnovers while they gave up 8-12 shooting to the Hawks. They let them get all the way back to 4 down at 49-45 and they had to wake up. In their defense, after that run they went on their own 18-11 run to close the half and saw themselves up comfortably at 67-56 entering halftime.
The third went the same way as the first as the Celtics hung 41 points on the Hawks and went into the fourth quarter up 26 points. They just overpowered the Hawks on the offensive end with a barrage of threes and buckets from so many different faces. The talent gap was apparent and we are finally seeing the Celtics assert their dominance on teams like this.
There were solid performances all around for this team as they had a balanced scoring attack with 5 guys over or around 20 points (Irving, Morris, Tatum, Hayward, and Theis). Kyrie just continues to have defenders in his back pocket as he consistently boggles you with his creativity. He always has the defender off balance and he’s so unorthodox with his moves that he constantly confuses and breaks down defenders. For example, he had a layup going baseline from the right corner where he went up and switched hands mid air and put it in with his left. Then for good measure, this gem on rookie Kevin Huerter.
The trio of Morris, Tatum, and Hayward patrolling the wing positions for the Green provided such a lift, both off of the bench, and in the starting lineup. A combined 59 points from those three is exactly what they are looking for. This is how their scoring is distributed when they’re at their best, multiple guys providing 15-25 points.
Gordon Hayward keeps showing us more and more every single game. He’s coming off of screens hard, looking to score, and he’s knocking his shots down. 7-10 from the floor, 3-3 from deep, and 2-2 from the line is exactly what the Celtics need out of him night in and night out. He’s found his groove off the bench and I’m curious how his presence off of it can help them in games against the league’s best. During this 8 game steak the Celtics have played some very spotty competition so it’ll be interesting when they go up against a top team (*Circles December 21st vs. Milwaukee*).
Once again, Robert Williams stole the show and the Boston fan’s hearts. He had 5 blocks in merely 16:24 of game time. He keeps showing his value on the defensive end and has vaulted his way up to 21st overall in blocks per game (1.33) in 7.4 minutes per game. While he doesn’t actually qualify yet due to his minimal play, I’m interested to see if he can keep this up and block shots at a rate similar to some of the league’s best in that category. His 6.5 blocks per 36 minutes is a staggering number and I still have no clue what he’s going to become. Look at these two blocks, my goodness VC almost retired on the spot, man.
The Celtics have never had a big like Williams in the Brad Stevens Era and I’m sure Brad is going to get creative with him.
For the Hawks, it was one of those games where Trae Young missed a LOT of shots (2-11 from the floor 0-6 from three). They’re 3-16 in games where Young hits less than 40% of his shots and in such games their average margin of defeat is 15.87 points. They get pummelled when he can’t hit shots and it was one of those nights. I was impressed with the range of Kevin Huerter as his jumpshot is really smooth. John Collins is also fun to watch as his athleticism is off the charts.
Overall, a win is a win and while it got sloppy for a stretch in the second, they took care of business and were able to get guys rest on the first night of a back to back.
Player of the Game: Marcus Morris
An easy player of the week candidate (@Noah), Mook has been on a tear recently. Look at his numbers during this winning streak.
I’m really close to begin chattering about an all-star selection for Morris if he keeps this up. His shot making ability has been incredible all season long. His 3-point stroke has been on point and he has been one of the best marksman in the league this season (12th in the NBA in 3-Point % at 44.2%). Can you look at this stepback and tell me you thought Mook had a move like this in his arsenal?
I for sure didn’t and he’s playing the best basketball of his career this season. Up to 15.1 ppg on 49/44/88 splits he might not give up his starting job anytime soon and last night was more good stuff for his case.
Wheels are UP to Motor City to visit the Pistons (13-13) tonight 12/15 at 7:00 PM ET.