In the NBA Playoffs, every game is a new story. Though the end result of game 2 was comparable to Saturday, that saying certainly held true on Tuesday night.
The Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 119-106, going ahead in the series 2-0 in their best of 7 first round matchup. Though a Dejounte Murray-led attack had the Celtics on their heels a bit in the third and early fourth quarter, Boston regained composure and unleashed a 15-2 run to close out the game with ease.
Coach Mazzulla on the mindset heading to Atlanta with a 2-0 lead: “It’s a balanced feeling of you understand that you’re up 2-0, and at the same time, we have to play better and we know that we can play better.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 19, 2023
This game was a masterclass from the Celtics in terms of their ability to weather the storm and punish opposing teams with an offensive barrage. Boston got up big once they turned up the pace, playing in transition and flustering Atlanta. This led to a number of terrible possessions from the Hawks, and got the lead up to 20. Then, when Atlanta pushed back, cutting the lead to 9, the Celtics refocused on the defensive end while Jayson Tatum and Derrick White feasted on offense.
Following the game, Joe Mazzulla still said there was room for improvement, but he was overall pleased with the effort from the C’s. “We have to do a better job on the glass, but we’re making up for it in some other areas with our active hands, our blocks, and what we do on offense.”
Tatum and White finished with 29 and 26 points respectively. White also was massive in guarding Trae Young, and racked up 3 blocks, tying Al Horford for the game high.
“I thought he just made the right play,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said of White. “He does a great job of just making the right play.”
For Atlanta, they once again showed an unwillingness to roll over and die, and this time, they nearly caught the Celtics. After a first half where they turned the ball over 10 times and were mostly sealed off the offensive glass, Dejounte Murray started to take over, dragging the Hawks within single-digits and sparking some inspired play from his teammates.
Dejounte Murray on how to beat the #Celtics' switching: "Staying aggressive, but not for yourself."
— Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning) April 19, 2023
Murray — a few days after setting a playoff career-high — set a new one today (29 points), while Trae Young ended with 24 and 6 assists in a mostly improved performance tonight.
The Hawks should feel better about this game than the first one, but it has to be demoralizing to know that the Celtics can seemingly always hit that extra gear and pull away whenever things get close.
The series will continue Friday night in Atlanta at 7:00 P.M.