The Hawks just could not keep up with the Celtics upon their return to State Farm Arena. The Celtics downed the Hawks 126-101 Wednesday night.

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage on the Hawks

Here are five observations.

1. The Hawks’ offense just could not heat up and knock down any shots against the team with the NBA’s best record (12-3).

The Hawks went 29-of-58 inside the paint as they tried to attack the rim and potentially draw some contact and get to the line. When the Hawks tried to get their outside game going, they hesitated and lost their window for an uncontested shot. If they did attempt a 3-pointer, the ball rimmed out, fell short or didn’t touch the rim at all.

The Hawks did not hit their first shot from 3-point distance until 15 minutes into the game. Prior to that, they went 0-for-6 from deep in the first quarter and made just two of their seven attempts in the second.

Through 15 games, the Hawks have shot better than only the Lakers. They’ve knocked down just 32.2% of their shots from long range, while this time last season they shot 36.5%.

Of course, the Hawks had Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari in the mix. Without at least three of their sharpshooters, the Hawks have looked out of sorts from 3-point distance.

2. When the Hawks were able to get some scoring, the Celtics quickly answered and shut it down. The Hawks opened the second half with five straight points, then managed to pull within four with 11:17 remaining in the third quarter.

The Celtics answered every single push from the Hawks, who went 42-of-101 from the floor and 7-of-32 from three.

“You got to shoot the ball with confidence,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “And when you’re open, you got to shoot the ball. And if your shot is not there, your rhythm is not there, you got to get into the gym and work on it. You know, put in some time and work on yourself. But you got to shoot the open shot, when you have it and shoot it with confidence.”

3. On Wednesday, the Hawks ranked 10th in the league in defensive efficiency. But the Celtics ranked first in offensive efficiency and exposed the Hawks’ defensive weakness. The Celtics got everywhere they wanted, making 64.1% of their shots in the paint.

Plus, the Celtics made 45.7% of their shots from 3-point range, with three different players scoring four or more of their attempts. Celtics forward Sam Hauser went 5-of-6 from deep, with Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard each knocking down four of their attempts.

“I mean, it’s tough. I mean, when you only hit seven and they hit 21 of them, that’s a lot of points, you got to make up for it,” Hawks guard Trae Young said. “So I mean, yeah, give them credit. They were knocking down a lot of threes, but that’s what they do.”

4. With Hauser and Pritchard firing on all cylinders, the Celtics’ second unit pummeled the Hawks. The Boston bench outscored the Hawks 44-23, which allowed the Celtics to create plenty of separation throughout the game.

The Hawks’ second unit has lacked an offensive punch so far this season. It ranks 27th in the league in points per game and it has hurt the Hawks in some of their matchups this season.

Bogdanovic will address some of those offensive needs when he is cleared to return to action. But until then, the Hawks’ second unit needs to find a way to get the offense going.

5. The Hawks got a big boost from Young, who scored 27 on 10 of 23 shooting. He is still finding his groove from 3-point range, but helped to give the Hawks some energy to close out the third.

But with cold shooting from long distance plaguing the Hawks, the team just could not climb back into the game.

“For me, personally, I think maybe for a lot of guys, it’s just overthinking it,” Young said. “I mean, we got a lot of guys who are new. Guys, in different roles, different positions, trying to, you’re out there, you want to make the right play, but I feel like guys are just thinking too much.”

He added that he thought this team is capable of getting back to playing freely and not overthinking during games. He said that the team would be able to get its confidence back with time.

Celtics 126, Hawks 101

Stat to know

The Hawks had just nine turnovers on Wednesday, the fifth game of the season they have recorded less than 10.

Quotable

“This is a jump-shooting team. You have to take their airspace away and make them put the ball on the floor. And they were able to race up and see the rim. And they knocked down those shots.” -- Hawks coach Nate McMillan on the Celtics.

Up next

The Hawks host the Raptors, who handed them a 30-point loss on Oct. 31, on Saturday.