Things heated up and tempers flared at State Farm Arena Saturday night in the game between the Hawks and Celtics. But the Celtics fired on all cylinders and the Hawks could not rally and eventually fell 134-125 to one of the top offenses in the NBA.

Here are five observations:

1. The heightened emotions on both ends of the floor sparked another flame late in the fourth quarter when Hawks guard Trae Young tried to bring the Hawks back from a seven-point deficit.

As Young drove to the basket, he drew contact from the Celtics’ Marcus Smart. Young wanted a continuation foul called and Smart went over to talk to the guard. As Smart put his hand on Young’s chest, the Hawks star tried to push it off. Then the two got in each other’s faces and Smart spun and pulled Young to the court as others players arrived.

Officials gave Young a technical foul “for getting up and pointing in Marcus Smart’s face” and assessed Smart a pair of technicals and he was ejected.

Following the game, Young did not share what Smart said to him and declined to comment further on the situation.

2. Young scored 17 points in the first half, knocking down six of his 11 shots from the floor, three of which were from distance. The 24-year-old navigated the Celtics defense, getting under them to get to the basket on a couple of drives, sometimes drawing the contact.

He also had 11 assists, which accounted for 24 of the Hawks’ points in the first half.

Young picked up where he left off when he returned in the second half, scoring a layup down the lane while drawing a foul. He ended up with 35 points and 13 assists by the end of the night.

3. The Hawks had little answer to the Celtics, who shot over 45% from long range for much of the game. Hawks coach Quin Snyder has spoken of the Hawks’ propensity to overhelp on defense and leave a man wide open.

It happened plenty of times against the sixth-best shooting team in the NBA. Heading into Saturday night, the Celtics shot 37.7% from distance and their efficiency showed. Six players in the Celtics’ eight-man rotation made multiple shots from 3 as the Celtics hit 20-of-42.

The Hawks gave up 21 3-pointers to the Celtics when they hosted them at State Farm Arena on Nov. 16. They’re 5-16 when they give up 14 or more 3-pointers to their opponents. They’re 5-14 when their opponents shoot 40% or higher from distance.

“A lot of times it happens, it’s the end result of not being able to stay in front of the ball,” Snyder said. “And we have to figure out how to scramble out of the situations and try to make them make a couple more passes. But as much as anything, trying to be even more solid on the ball. And then understanding situations on the court with different players, different shooters.”

4. To open the second quarter, the Hawks’ offense fell flat with the team making just two of its 11 shot attempts from the floor. The Hawks tried to work inside out but the Celtics forced them into tight spaces and off of their spots.

While the Hawks’ second unit struggled to get things going on either end of the floor, Snyder made plenty of adjustments throughout the quarter to generate some fresh legs. He subbed in Aaron Holiday, who had not played since March 3, for some defensive energy.

Snyder bought De’Andre Hunter and Young back earlier than usual with 7:50 still left in the second quarter.

The decision to bring Young back quickly opened things up, with the Hawks going 8-of-11 to cut the lead to 69-61 with 12.1 left in the half.

5. The Hawks missed the presence of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has provided them with scoring off the bench. He sat and nursed lower back tightness on the second night of back-to-back games.

So, rookie AJ Griffin earned minutes in the rotation for the first time since March 3. But with the Celtics heating up in the second quarter, his night ended before halftime. He scored two points and had three rebounds.

Stat to know

43 -- Atlanta has poured in 100 or more points in 43 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA and the third-longest in franchise history.


“It’s the back-to-back. The NBA has back-to-backs. And that’s another thing for us. I thought if anything we weren’t as mentally sharp early. -- Hawks coach Quin Snyder on the challenge of playing two straight nights.

Up next

The Hawks host the Timberwolves on Monday at State Farm Arena.