The Hawks overcame a 30-point deficit to down the Celtics 120-118 Monday night at State Farm Arena in the first of two games between the teams in the next four days.

Here are five observations:

1. Despite looking at a huge deficit, the Hawks leaned on each other to pull out of it. Throughout the second half, the Hawks played connected basketball, with everyone stepping up at different moments.

The Hawks came into the night with just 10 active players but each of them played their role, contributing key moments in the game.

“I think that whole first half, we weren’t controlling the things we can control,” said Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, who had 19 points and tied his career-high in assists with 15. “And we came in at halftime and from my message we all were active talking but just my message to the team was just play the right way and continue to try to compete and play physical. If they’re gonna call stuff or they’re gonna let us play and I think that second half, they let us play and that changed the whole game.”

2. Murray has been the Hawks’ sole quarterback in the absence of Trae Young (left fifth finger torn ligament) but he did not have to shoulder the scoring load Monday.

In the second half, Hawks wing Vit Krejci confidently hit a 3-pointer from the wing. He then poked the ball away from Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis before slamming down a two-handed running dunk. He followed it up with a pull-up 3 to cap off a personal 8-0 run that brought the Hawks within a possession for the first time since 9:16 remained in the first quarter.

Krejci tied his career-high of 16 points but also set up plenty of plays that would not end up on the stat sheet. The 23-year-old wing has started for the Hawks over the last eight games but has found his stroke over the previous three. He averaged 9.7 points and three assists in the few games leading into Monday to pair with a strong defensive presence that has earned him more time.

Krejci had the assignment of picking up Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and he embraced it.

“So, just kind of pick him up and make his life as hard as possible,” Krejci said. “And, again, I just know that I’m going to earn minutes by playing defense.”

Atlanta Hawks guard Vit Krejci (27) reacts after making a three-point basket during the second half of their win against the Boston Celtics at State Farm Arena, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Atlanta. The Hawks won 120-118. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz

icon to expand image

Credit: Jason Getz

3. Krejci had plenty of help from the rest of the team as the Hawks held the Celtics to 1-of -15 shooting from deep in the second half. The Celtics knocked down 10-of-23 from 3 in the first half but the Hawks made it a mission to keep them off the 3-point line when they returned from the break.

Some of that came from veteran guard Wesley Matthews taking over the assignment of guarding Tatum more. Matthews made life tough for the leading candidate for this season’s MVP award. But while Tatum made all but five of his field goal attempts in the first half, he missed eight of his 14 tries in the second.

“I mean, you got to assert yourself too,” Matthews said. “I mean you gotta let the game know, not the officials or anything like that, but let the game know your presence is here.”

4. With the Hawks’ defense clicking, it carried over to the offense as they hit several key shots down the stretch to put the Celtics out of reach. The Hawks ended the night going 18-of-36 from deep, the fourth time in the last six games that they have shot 50% or better from 3.

But they had several key 3s in a 105-second span that put them out in front for the first time all game. With 9:58 to play in the game, Trent Forrest grabbed an offensive board from his own miss and kicked it out to a wide-open Matthews in the corner. It gave the Hawks a 97-96 lead before Garrison Mathews and Bogdan Bogdanovic hit consecutive jumpers that gave them a 105-101 lead.

The Hawks made five threes in the fourth quarter, with De’Andre Hunter hitting the dagger off an offensive rebound from Clint Capela with 10 seconds left.

“Once CC got that rebound I said, ‘If he passed it to me, I would shoot it,’” Hunter said. “So he got the rebound. He passed it to me so I shot it.”

5. In honor of Women’s Empowerment Night, the Hawks had CJ Simpson on the mic as their PA announcer instead of regular Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan.

Stat to know

30 -- The 30-point comeback is the Hawks’ largest since at least the 1997-98 season, when the NBA began keeping detailed play-by-play.


“You said Vit went off? I bet you haven’t said that before?” -- Quin Snyder on Vit Krejci’s big night.

Up next

The Hawks face the Trail Blazers on Wednesday before they host the Celtics for another matchup on Thursday.