After an explosive first half from guard Trae Young, the Hawks’ offense fell flat when it was needed the most Thursday night.

The Celtics ended Game 6 of the first-round playoff series on a 18-7 run and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals by beating the Hawks 128-120 at State Farm Arena.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks led 100-98 heading into the fourth quarter and they matched the Celtics’ energy to open the frame. But the Hawks’ offensive output faded after the first seven minutes of the quarter. The Hawks missed seven straight shots, while Jaylen Brown (30 points, five rebounds), Al Horford (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Jayson Tatum knocked down shots from 3 for Boston.

Then Tatum, who scored 30 points, had 14 rebounds and seven assists, slammed down a dunk in transition with 2:07 left in the game to pretty much ice the game for the Celtics.

“Obviously, Tatum and Brown were a handful, which we expect and (we) blitzed the pick and roll, we hit them from a quadrant and hit them on the dribble, hit him on the pass,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “And, when we didn’t, he made a plays, and when we did, you’re susceptible to the 3. We had some success, all those situations when they missed, but they had guys that hit some big shots as well. But we were right there. So it’s a tough game.”

Despite a pair of 3s from Hawks Dejounte Murray and De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks just couldn’t make enough offensive plays down the stretch like in Game 5. The Celtics outscored the Hawks 30-20 in the fourth quarter.

2. The Hawks got a big lift in the fourth quarter from Young in Game 5 but the Celtics were ready for him after an explosive first half. Young scored 18 points in the first quarter as he helped the Hawks remain within one point following the opening frame.

He picked up right where he left off in the previous game, making five of his 10 overall shot attempts, three of which came from 3. Young’s scorching continued in the second quarter and he had 25 by the end of the first half as he continued to shred the Celtics’ defense.

But the Celtics’ defense ratcheted up their physicality in the second half and showed no fear in getting into the Hawks’ bodies. Celtics guard Marcus Smart in particular made things tough on Young as he stuck much closer to him, learning not to give the Hawks guard space.

Young scored just five points in the second half, going 1-of-13 from the floor.

“Earlier in the first half, they were playing more team defense and he was helping and I was able to catch the ball with a live dribble and attack right away and create some space that way,” Young said. “But in the second half, he was more just connected to me. When I didn’t have the ball. He was still facing me and still connected to me.”



3. Even with Young’s struggles in the second half, Hunter gave the Hawks a boost to help them build a lead heading into the final quarter. Hunter scored 13 of his 20 points in the third quarter, while trying to limit Tatum throughout the game.

Hunter played solidly on the defensive end, with the Hawks matching up his minutes with Tatum’s. He held Tatum to six field goals through the first half but he exploited moments when Hunter switched onto Brown or someone else to get his shots.

Ahead of the game, Snyder said that the rest of the Hawks’ defense needed to step up to give Hunter some help. But Tatum needed just a little bit of space and the right matchup to knock a shot down from distance or drive into the paint.

4. Hunter did get some help from Dejounte Murray, who returned to the lineup after missing Game 5 while serving a one-game suspension. In his return, he struggled offensively with creating his own shot after falling out of rhythm from his previous four outings.

Heading into Game 6, Murray averaged 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists and was the team’s most productive player offensively.

He went scoreless in the first half Thursday but generated opportunities for his teammates while he found his groove. He had seven assists by the end of the first half, ending the night with 11 to go with his 14 points. It’s his second career postseason double-double and first point/assist double-double.



5. Despite Thursday’s loss, the Hawks come away feeling optimistic. All eyes turn to the future as they continue the Snyder era in Atlanta.

“I think I feel good about how we competed and how we played, going up and winning that game the other night in Boston showed a lot about our team character,” Snyder said.

Celtics 128, Hawks 120

Stat to know

5 - The Celtics had five blocks in the fourth quarter that snuffed out the Hawks’ looks at the rim.


“Quin is the future. I believe with him here, this city is going to win a championship.” -- Young on the Hawks’ outlook.