4 takeaways as Celtics stunned by Hawks after blowing 30-point lead

The Celtics have played plenty of impressive games this season, it’s why they’ve secured the No. 1 seed in the East. But they had an extremely forgettable night as they blew a 30-point lead to the Hawks in a 120-118 loss Monday in Atlanta. The C’s are now 57-15 after their nine-game win streak was snapped. The Hawks improved to 32-39.

4 takeaways as Celtics beat Hawks ahead of trade deadline - masslive.com

It was all C’s right from tipoff as they built up a 22-point lead after the first quarter. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis all scored in double-figures in the opening 12 minutes alone. But the Celtics had a poor finish to the first half, allowing their 30-point lead to be whittled down by the Hawks.

The Celtics were hit multiple times in the mouth Monday. While they responded to the Hawks’ 37-10 run with an 8-0 run to make some wiggle room, the home squad found some confidence. Atlanta was powered by multiple 3-pointers, including a dagger from De’Andre Hunter at the end of the game. On the flip side, the Celtics’ crunch-time offense felt lacking as they couldn’t find enough plays.

Tatum finished with 37 points and seven assists as he got the start at point guard. Brown had 24 points while Porzingis added 17 points and three blocks of his own. The Hawks were led by Hunter, who had 24 points, and Dejounte Murray, who had 19 points and 15 assists.

Blowing a lead: While the Celtics dominated the Hawks through the opening 20 minutes, they let the opposition right back into the game. The C’s saw their dominant 30-point lead get whittled down all the way to three until C’s coach Joe Mazzulla called timeout. The Hawks scrapped from there as they were extremely physical in the second half. They also hit some key 3-pointers down the stretch as the Celtics blew their lead.

Crunch-time offense: The Celtics have long been criticized for their late-game offense the past few seasons, and some of those bad habits crept up again. Brown’s rushed 3-pointer on one of the Celtics’ final possession sticks out, along with Tatum getting called for an eight-second violation. Tatum also had a tough turnover that ended up in three points for the Hawks the other way. There were some tough made buckets mixed in there from Brown and Tatum, but it wasn’t enough to lead the C’s to victory.
Shooting difference: The 3-pointer has been the Celtics’ weapon all season as that’s the type of ball Mazzulla wants to play. But when the C’s blew their lead Monday, the 3-point disparity was massive between the two sides. The Celtics were 11-for-38 from behind the arc, going just 1-for-15 in the second half. On the flip side, the Hawks were red-hot in the second half, which helped them come back into the game. The Hawks finished a sizzling 18-for-36 from deep, including 11-for-19 in the second half. That’s what happens at times throughout 82 games as the C’s had to slog through struggles Monday.

Coming off the bench: Jaden Springer hasn’t gotten off the Celtics bench too often for competitive minutes. He played 22 minutes against the Pistons recently in the blowout win. But Mazzulla elected to trust Springer on Monday, subbing him into the game in the fourth quarter. Springer ended up with only two points and a rebound in his eight minutes, but he was a nice defensive spark off the bench. That energy was much-needed for the Celtics as they needed the boost.

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