Celtics' upset loss to Hawks in Recreation 3 comes with an vital reminder - thqaftqlm

Celtics’ upset loss to Hawks in Recreation 3 comes with an vital reminder

Celtics’ Recreation 3 loss to Hawks comes with an vital reminder initially appeared on NBC Sports activities Boston

The Boston Celtics are higher than the Atlanta Hawks. There is no purpose to panic after a Recreation 3 loss to Atlanta at State Farm Area, and the C’s nonetheless ought to advance to the second spherical in 5 or 6 video games.

However Friday evening bolstered what is likely to be this crew’s Achilles’ heel: They don’t seem to be nice front-runners.

Coming into Atlanta with a 2-0 lead and the prospect to primarily put the sequence away, the Celtics took their foot off the fuel ever so barely — and the Hawks pounced. Spurred on by an brisk crowd, the Hawks shot 65 % from the ground within the first half and ripped off a 20-3 second-quarter run to open up a double-digit lead.

Boston clawed again to make it a sport down the stretch, however Atlanta’s stars shined in crunch time, with Trae Younger and Dejounte Murray each hitting clutch buckets to seal a 130-22 Hawks victory.

 Celtics Speak: Celtics haven’t any solutions for Trae Younger, Hawks offense in Recreation 3 loss | Pay attention & Subscribe

“You give guys confidence — they’re within the NBA,” Celtics guard Marcus Good mentioned after the sport. “You’ve got acquired a whole lot of guys which might be right here for a purpose. You give guys confidence at residence, you get moments like that, they usually got here again to chew us within the butt.”

The Celtics elevated their play in opposition to elite competitors this season, successful almost 70 % of their video games in opposition to the highest 10 groups within the league (ranked by scoring differential). However they usually stumbled when the stakes had been lowered, with a worse successful proportion in opposition to the NBA’s bottom-10 groups than its prime 10.

As a playoff crew, the Hawks clearly do not fall in that bottom-10 class. However they’re nonetheless heavy underdogs on this sequence with Boston, and the Celtics performed like that they had a number of instances this season in opposition to heavy underdogs — particularly on the defensive finish.

After placing the clamps on Atlanta in Video games 1 and a pair of, Boston allowed the Hawks to attain at will in Recreation 3. Atlanta made a series-high 15 3-pointers, outscored the Celtics 54-40 within the paint and snatched 48 rebounds (together with 11 offensive) to Boston’s 29.

“There’s nothing tactical about it: It’s only a matter of will. They usually needed it extra tonight,” Good mentioned when requested in regards to the Hawks’ rebounding benefit. “They go each evening. We’ve gotta have the ability to cease that. Like I mentioned, they’re getting second-chance photographs, they get to feeling good.”

Not like a few of their regular-season duds, the Celtics held their very own offensively, scoring 29 factors within the closing quarter to chop Atlanta’s result in one earlier than the Hawks pulled away. From Good’s season-high 24 factors to Grant Williams’ 14 factors off the bench in his sequence debut, there have been loads of encouraging indicators offensively.

If the Celtics need to get again to the NBA Finals, nevertheless, they should play championship-level protection — the type they performed through the 2022 postseason, after they allowed simply 102 factors per sport and stormed by the Jap Convention with a chip on their shoulder.

The Celtics appeared to hold that very same chip into the 2023 postseason, with final 12 months’s Finals loss serving as motivation to take care of their edge. But Boston briefly misplaced that edge Friday evening as a transparent front-runner to let the Hawks into the sequence.

If we all know something about this group, nevertheless, anticipate that chip to re-emerge in Recreation 4 on Sunday evening.

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