IN A NUTSHELL
Last time the Boston Celtics took on the Atlanta Hawks, the blowout result was predictable, though it didn’t come quite as easily as such lopsided wins can. Atlanta, still unmistakably bad and rebuilding, came to the Garden more prepared and looked it once they made it past the first quarter. The second frame…was a lot less fun as a result.
Then it went all Boston for a third quarter in which our heroes obliterated the visiting bird flock in a manner less numerically superior but far more humiliating, including a truly thrilling defensive performance by Rob Williams. The Hawks just kept losing sight of the ball as if it were some rare bug specimen flitting in and out of visibility but then announcing its presence with a vicious sting, in the form of a fastbreak dunk, triple or smooth run to the rim. (We will discuss the nickname issue later on.) After the third, it was basically a done deal, and the Celtics rode it out to earn their eighth straight win, 129-108.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Let’s start with the first quarter:
- Kyrie Irving began it in beast mode and didn’t slow down at any point, nor did Marcus Morris, and those players’ counterparts on the floor had little answer for them. (They would finish with 24 and 20 points, respectively; Kyrie going 4-5 on three-pointers and Mook nailing 6 of 8.)
- All the things that have gone well for the team were on display: stout defense, forcing and scoring off of turnovers, three-point shooting, crisp motion offense from the starters (and the reserves on a limited basis, but they’d show their stuff later).
- Jayson Tatum continues his run of casual excellence. The long twos won’t ever leave his repertoire entirely, but he’s using them more judiciously.
- Nice to see Baynes playing again, even though he’s still got some recovering to do.
- Gordon Hayward with another strong 6th man performance (19 points, 5 dimes).
- TIMELORD WENT ON A TEAR, with 5 blocks (!!) alongside 5 rebounds and another massive dunk.
WHAT WENT WRONG
That 19-0 run by the Hawks in the second quarter was absolutely brutal, reminiscent of this season’s lowest points, but the entire frame until its final few minutes was disastrous. It was the sort of thing that shouldn’t happen to a squad if their ultimate stated goal is a championship, and represented the sort of process breakdown Brad Stevens goes quietly apoplectic when he sees.
Not that good and great teams don’t get beat by bad ones every once in a while—the issue is how those superior teams end up with the loss. Extended breakdowns are the last thing you want to see when the Cs have spent the previous seven contests bounding ecstatically out of a rut, regardless of the game’s final result. Other assorted minor points:
- After the first quarter, Hawks sophomore power forward John Collins bounced back and played a notable role in his team’s inspired run during the following frame.
- I don’t like Kevin Huerter and I want Marcus Smart to stuff him in a goddamn locker, and not just because he nailed five threes against the Celtics defense. He just looks like a goddamn worthless nerd.
- All things being equal I’m not against Vince Carter scoring 12 points at age 41, but Boston probably shouldn’t be allowing that many points from a guy above 40. (That said, I have no complaint about his garbage-time dunk.)
WHAT THE F…WHAT?
TIMELORD IS THE ONE ANY ONLY ROB WILLIAMS NICKNAME, GODDAMNIT. WEIRD CELTICS TWITTER WORKED HARD FOR THIS SHIT AND BY GOD WE’RE GONNA HAVE IT HONORED. DON’T MESS THIS UP DANNY.
(As for what I’d call Williams in a hypothetical conversation, it’d probably be the preferred version of his first name—he is not a guy I want mad at me.)
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
ALL TIMELORD EDITION:
Answer to tweeted question below: Prob not.