Monday was a night to forget for the Boston Celtics, as they dropped an ugly 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden.
The C’s were plagued by poor shooting and turnovers throughout the game. Boston only shot 39 percent from the field, while giving away the ball 18 times.
Isaiah Thomas’ streak of 20-point games came to an end, as he finished the night with 19, which was the high for the Celtics. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively, for Boston.
Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder provided a game-high 21 points, while Paul Millsap recorded 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
With the loss, Boston falls to 38-22, while Atlanta improves to 33-26.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Al Horford
After missing the last 18 games with an Achilles injury, Bradley returned to the Celtics’ starting lineup. Boston will ease Bradley into action, though, as he’s expected to only log 15 to 25 minutes per game for the rest of the week.
EVENLY MATCHED START
The first quarter featured a lot of back-and-forth action, as the two teams were deadlocked at 24-24 after the opening 12 minutes. Both teams did a good job of distributing the ball in the first frame, as neither squad had a scorer in double digits. Crowder led the Celtics after one quarter with five points, while Schroeder posted the high for the Hawks with eight. Turnovers plagued both teams to start the game, as they each committed five giveaways in the opening quarter.
HAWKS HOLD HALFTIME EDGE
Atlanta held a narrow edge at halftime, leading Boston 51-47. The Celtics suffered from a poor shooting performance in the second quarter, only converting on nine of 26 shot attempts. Dwight Howard powered the Hawks in the first half, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds. The Celtics, even through two quarters, failed to have a scorer in double digits. Thomas led the C’s at the break with nine points, but also registered five rebounds and five assists.
THIRD QUARTER FIREWORKS
After the first half had a rather uneventful tone, the game received some excitement thanks to Howard. Early in the third quarter, Thomas attempted to drive to the basket, but was restricted by Howard in a pretty overt fashion.
But Howard was just getting started. Just minutes later, the Atlanta center was fouled hard by Horford on his way up to the basket. Howard clearly took exception, and shoved Horford in the chest.
Howard was issued a technical foul for his extracurricular activity.
Howard’s closing act came with just over four minutes remaining in the quarter. After throwing down an emphatic slam, the center hung on the rim and let out a scream, which officials deemed worthy of a technical foul.
It was Howard’s second technical foul in a matter of five minutes, forcing him to hit the showers early. He finished the night with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Atlanta clearly was not fazed by Howard’s theatrics, though, as it held an 84-71 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
CELTICS’ STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Boston’s offense just could not get it going, and that trend continued into the fourth quarter. The Celtics’ efforts to get back in the game were made even more difficult by the Hawks’ hot shooting, as they finished the night shooting 49 percent from the field.
PLAY OF THE GAME
There weren’t many highlights for the C’s, but this was a pretty sweet alley-oop from Horford to Brown.
Fans are in for a good one on Wednesday night when the Celtics host the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images