Hawks stumble on second night of back-to-back games to Celtics

BOSTON -- The Hawks stumbled on the second night of back-to-back games to one of the league’s best defenses. They fell 113-103 on Sunday at TD Garden.

Here are five observations.

1. The Hawks just could not get over the proverbial hump as they hovered anywhere between a deficit of nine points and 11 points in the last five minutes of the game. They trailed the Celtics 110-101 with 3:50 in the game.

Both teams traded misses and turnovers for nearly three minutes before Dejounte Murray finally made a layup, only his second of the game, to pull the Hawks within 111-103 with 1:03 left. Murray had gone without a field goal for the first three quarters and did not make his first until 4:48 remained in the game.

But the Hawks had self-inflicted wounds on Sunday, making it difficult for them to climb out of the hole.

They gave up 26 points off of 16 turnovers to a Celtics team that averaged 15.6 points off of takeaways coming into game. Some of the Hawks miscues and struggles could be attributed to heavy legs but Hawks coach Quin Snyder cautioned against looking for reasons.

“My feeling on that is, if you begin to look for those things during the course of the game, they can grow their potential impact whatever the case may be at any given time, whether we’re tired or in foul trouble we’re or missing shots,” Snyder said. “Like those are all the things hopefully as we continue to evolve as a team, we can pull together in those moments.”

2. With the Hawks a man down and fighting through tired legs, they had a huge first half from Trae Young that helped keep them in the game early. Young scored 20 of the Hawks’ 53 first-half points as the rest of his teammates outside of Bogdan Bogdanovic tried to get their shots to fall.

Young moved efficiently in the first knocking down 50% of his shots from the floor and from 3.

He looked comfortable navigating through the Celtics defense early and got to his spots, hitting his floater, as well as knocking down four 3s.

The Hawks guard ended the game with a team-high 33 points, had four rebounds and seven assists.

“I had my shot going early in the game and so I just I’m gonna just stay aggressive regardless of what I ended up shooting,” Young said. “It is what it is and I’m gonna stay aggressive for my team.”

3. Young had help from Bogdanovic, who put up 11 points in the first half and remained hot for much of the night. Bogdanovic made all of his first eight shots, including seven 3-pointers. He did not miss his first shot until 1:14 remained in the third and ended the night with 23 points.

Bogdanovic has been one of the most valuable players off the bench for the Hawks. He sits at 12th overall in the league in bench scoring, averaging 15.2 points per game.

After the game, Bogdanovic said he should have done more, despite going 7-of-10 from 3.

“It was a good performance, but I think I could play better,” Bogdanovic said. “Maybe shoot a little bit more when I’m hot like this, demand the ball. It’s okay, one game. It was a back-to-back, tough.”

4. While the Hawks had strong offensive nights from Young, Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter, the absence of Jalen Johnson could be felt. With the Celtics outrebounding the Hawks 58-43, the Hawks missed Johnson’s athleticism as Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu worked amongst the Celtics giants on the boards.

Johnson has averaged 7.3 boards per game this season and has often been in the paint to help box out defenders that clear the path for teammates to grab long rebounds. If he is not sealing things off, he’s using length and hops to get over opponents.

The Hawks have a tough battle against the Cavaliers on Tuesday, who have two 7-foot players down low in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

5. With fatigue setting in, the Hawks scored a season-low 103 points after combining for 435 points over their previous three games.

Stat to know

58 -- Trae Young is tied with Damian Lillard for the fourth-most 20-point first halves in the NBA in the play-by-play era with 58.

Quotable

“It’s my sixth year but I’ve have had a lot of experience and so for me it’s just trying to give as much input and more than I’m used to and then also showing like I’ve always been a person to lead by actions more than my word.” -- Trae Young on leading more vocally.

Up Next

The Hawks head to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Tuesday in their final game of group play in the In-Season Tournament.

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