The Boston Celtics failed to apply a hefty load of pressure on the Atlanta Hawks, falling in Game 3, 130-122, Friday night at State Farm Arena.
The Celtics still lead the series, 2-1, over the Hawks.
Check out the full box score here.
ONE BIG TAKEAWAY
After Game 2, the Celtics acknowledged that their ultimate challenge was yet to come: Winning playoff games on the road. But Atlanta pulled the carpet from underneath Boston, and the C’s weren’t ready.
This time, the Hawks were far from the pushover they previously were in Game 1, looking like a completely different team. In the first half, Atlanta picked apart Boston’s defense, which was horrific to get started. Whether it was exploiting the switch of Al Horford on Trae Young or surprisingly netting baskets from the outside on a shot-for-shot exchange, the Hawks were noticeably energized by their home crowd, unlike anything we’ve seen from them this series.
The C’s allowed 74 points to the Hawks by halftime, the most scored by any opponent all season long and the most scored by anyone thus far in the playoffs. Atlanta’s bench was stellar, totaling 44 points of contribution while shooting a combined 16-of-22 shooting. That helped apply the pressure, giving the Hawks their first fourth-quarter lead of the series.
Despite a final resilient push to the finish line, Boston failed to put Atlanta in an improbable 0-3 deficit, given plenty of opportunities to out the Hawks.
STARS OF THE GAME
— Jayson Tatum, while strong, couldn’t find the big moment baskets to propel Boston ahead. Tatum recorded a double-double, scoring a team-leading 29 points with 10 rebounds and five assists.
— Young assured he’d be better in Game 3 and that he was. The All-Star guard was key in relieving the pressure from Atlanta’s frontcourt, finishing with 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting, along with six rebounds and nine assists.
— Marcus Smart was inspiring, delivering a strong outside shooting performance (5-of-12) coupled with some timely clutch baskets in the fourth quarter. He supplied the Celtics with 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Smart hadn’t shot particularly well from 3-point range in the first two games of the series, but the hot hand from the outside was contagious for Boston. FanDuel Sportsbook the over/under on Smart’s total 3-pointers at 1.5 with -158 odds on the Over. He cleared those odds easily, connecting on 4-of-6 attempts in the first half alone. A $100 wager placed on the 29-year-old would’ve netted a $163.29 total payout.
The Celtics will seek a bounce-back victory in Game 4 on Sunday. Tipoff from State Farm Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.