The Boston Celtics had a chance on Tuesday night to close out the series and move on. However, the Atlanta Hawks powered through the fourth quarter and outscored the Celtics 37-25. The series will now head back south to Atlanta for game 6. The Hawks will have Dejounte Murray back from his one-game suspension as well. With another blown fourth quarter lead, the series draws closer to 3 games to 2.
The Celtics will still have two more games to prove themselves worthy to the 76ers, their opponent if they can beat the Hawks.
Player Performances – Celtics
One big story behind the loss was the Celtics’ 3-point shooting. Boston shot 38 shots from range, including Tatum’s hopeful heave at the buzzer. Jayson Tatum himself was a big contributor to Boston’s woes, shooting 8/21 and 1/10 from 3.
Jaylen Brown had a breakout game, scoring 35 on 65% shooting, with seven rebounds and five assists. However, he only had one free throw make out of five attempted. Brown’s free throw percentage has been a struggle this season, 76.5% but 57.9% through five games this postseason.
Another player who had a great impact on Tuesday night was Derrick White. White has averaged just under 20 per game for Boston, breaking out for 24 and 26 in game one and two, respectively. It seems to be the consensus that when White plays well, the Celtics win games.
Player Performances – Hawks
The Hawks played very well on Tuesday night, even without their starting shooting guard, Dejounte Murray. He’s given the Hawks on average 25 a night, and his absence was a big hit to the Hawk’s offense and defense.
Trae Young was the lead behind the Hawks per usual, putting up a game-high 38 points and 13 assists. He also made the eventual game-winning 3 pointer from 30 feet out. Young has slowly been finding his playoff form. In game one, he had a mere 16 points with an abysmal shooting percentage. Despite taking 33 shots in game five, he made 42% and took home a must-need win.
What Needs To Be Done?
So this begs the question for Boston; what needs to be corrected in this game for the next? The first concern should be shot selection.
Boston has a tendency to shoot the 3 to excess, even in circumstances when a 2 would suffice (i.e. Tatum’s final shot in game five). This is applied to the entirety of the team. Boston averaged 2nd in the league in terms of 3PM and 3PA, but 6th in 3P% at 37.6%. In contrast, they finished in 28th for free throw attempts.
The Celtics metaphorically shoot themselves in the foot when continuing to shoot when percentages are low instead of driving and getting free throws.
Another key to winning game six lies in defending the 3-point arc. The Hawks went on a 19-2 run in the fourth quarter, eventually sealing their win over Boston. This was done with multiple 3-point shots made by Young and Bogdanovic.
The Celtics need to find a way to be aggressive at the 3-point line, without fouling (like they did with Young on Tuesday night). The Hawks shot an impressive 46.3% from 3-point range, and it’s not from mere luck. Whether it be on switches or mismatches, Boston needs to find a solution to have the right man at the right time.
Boston looks to close out the series in Atlanta on Thursday night at 8:30 PM EST.
(Featured image credited to Brian Babineau/Getty Images)