Undermanned Hawks fall to Celtics

After the Celtics (34-15) swung the game in the third quarter, the Hawks (13-38) were dealt a 123-115 loss Monday at State Farm Arena.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. Fortunately for the Hawks, Trae Young was available to play after leaving Saturday’s loss in Dallas with a right ankle sprain. Even with Young back, though, the Hawks were still quite shorthanded, and that led to some unique lineups (with Evan Turner playing for the first time since Dec. 28). Both of their rookie wings, De’Andre Hunter (left ankle sprain) and Cam Reddish (concussion) were out, as were two of their centers, Alex Len (right hip flexor strain) and Bruno Fernando (left calf strain). Add in that Jabari Parker is still out while rehabbing from a right shoulder impingement and DeAndre’ Bembry is still out with right hand neuritis, and the Hawks were thin pretty much everywhere but point guard, so backup point guard Jeff Teague and Young played together, with backup point guard Brandon Goodwin in the mix as well. Young had 34 points (10-20 FG, 4-1 3-point range, 10-11 FT) and seven assists, but tied his season-high in turnovers with nine, with four of those coming in the fourth quarter: “There were a lot of times where I was jumping in the air and passing, expecting someone to be in the corner, and it just wasn’t there,” Young said. “It’s just a different type of line-up… we don’t necessarily have the type of chemistry where I know some one’s going be in that corner or someone’s going to be slashing at a certain time, and that’s going to cause turnovers. I turned the ball over way too much tonight and that’s a big reason why we lost.” The Hawks had 17 turnovers overall.

2. Ten 3-pointers in the first half, including a banked-in buzzer-beater off one leg by John Collins to take a 62-60 lead at halftime, helped the Hawks stay in it, but things quickly took a turn for the worse in the third quarter. The Celtics opened the third with a 23-10 run, and a fadeaway by Jayson Tatum (who led Boston in scoring with 28 points and scored 15 in the third) gave them a 13-point lead, their largest of the night, at the 1:39 mark. The third quarter ended up being the turning point of the game, with the Celtics shooting 66.7% from the field and draining five 3’s to pull away (the Hawks went 0-for-3 from 3-point range in the third and 12-for-30, or 40%, overall). “Once they had the separation, we were basically playing catch-up from a six- to-eight-point game most of the way,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “I thought our guys did a really good job just to put themselves back into the game… We just couldn’t get over that hump in the fourth quarter.” In his 13th double-double in 25 games played, Collins finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

3. Trailing by 11 going into the fourth, the Hawks fought back, with a pullup jumper by Kevin Huerter making it a two-point game with 6:03 to go and his fifth 3-pointer of the night pulling them within three with about four minutes to play (Huerter added 23 points total). They were never able to regain the lead, though, making a few too many mistakes down the stretch -- trailing by four after a reverse layup by Collins, the Celtics turned a turnover by Young and steal by Jaylen Brown into a timely basket, and went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 30 seconds to seal the win. “We were just throwing bodies out there and I thought our guys did a really good job competing and putting themselves in a position to win while we were extremely short-handed, which is encouraging to see,” Pierce said. “Costly turnovers.”

4. Jeff Teague tallied just four points in the first half but had a strong second half, finishing with 18 points (7-14 FG) and six assists, tying his season-high with four steals. This was the most Teague has scored since he was traded to the Hawks by Minnesota Jan. 16 (at 36 minutes, it’s also the most he has played, having to pick up the slack with injured players out). “He got himself going with some steals and deflections, which got him some easy layups and from there, in the half-court, you try to carry over that same momentum and that same attack mentality. I think his speed is tremendous, I just want him to use it a little bit more.”

5. With so many frontcourt players out, it’s no surprise Boston had a size advantage, out-rebounding the Hawks 45-32 (12 offensive to the Hawks’ six). Gordon Hayward and Tatum each had seven rebounds for the Celtics, with Brown adding five.

By the Numbers 

7 (the amount of Hawks players unavailable to play due to injury)


“We had to mix in some lineups and try to make it work. That’s the NBA, we got to try and figure it out and figure out how to get some wins.” (Young on the Hawks missing so many players with injuries)

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