The Celtics cruised to a 113-103 win over the Hawks on Sunday night at TD Garden behind 34 points from Jayson Tatum. The hosts were down a pair of starters with Jrue Holiday (ankle) and Kristaps Porzingis (calf) sidelined but managed to lock down defensively against a high-powered Hawks offense, limiting Atlanta to just 40.9 percent shooting from the field.
Tatum led the way for Boston with 34 points and 9 rebounds while Jaylen Brown 21 points and 7 rebounds to keep the Celtics undefeated at TD Garden with a 7-0 record. Derrick White also added a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists while Trae Young had a team-high 33 points for the Hawks in the setback.
The Celtics did not shoot well from the field (44 percent) and 3-point range (27 percent) in the win but won largely on the strength of their rebounding with a 58-43 edge on the glass that led to 17 second chance points. Boston improved to an NBA-best 13-4 record with the victory and will next host the Bulls on Tuesday night in their final in-season tournament game for pool play.
Here are four takeaways from the Celtics win on Sunday night.
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Dalano Banton gets a surprise start: With Boston down two starters, Joe Mazzulla got creative with his starting lineup look against the Hawks, turning to the rarely-used Banton. The move helped create some bench continuity with a second unit that has been performing well of late and also added some defensive versatility to the starting five thanks to Banton’s 6-foot-9 size. The 24-year-old didn’t make much of an impact in the first half but helped the hosts turn the game into a comfortable win with a couple of layups early in the second half and finished with eight points. More importantly, Boston’s bench rotation remained intact while allowing Brown and Tatum to carry more of the scoring load with the starters.
Neemias Queta sparks a monster night on offensive glass for Boston: The two-way center hasn’t gotten many opportunities so far this season after a strong preseason campaign due to a foot injury. That changed on Sunday night with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined and Boston struggling on the offensive glass. Joe Mazzulla turned to the athletic big man for some energy and he delivered, piling up double-digit rebounds in his first 10 minutes of action including six on the offensive glass. His extra effort on the glass translated into more opportunities for the Celtics as Boston piled up 17 second chance points to help make up for a lackluster shooting night from beyond the arc. In a season where Mazzulla has not gotten much from his deep bench contributors, Queta rose to the occasion in a shorthanded frontcourt.
The Celtics didn’t have anyone who could stick with Trae Young: This has been a problem for several years at the point but with Jrue Holiday sidelined and Boston’s bigs in drop coverage for much of the night, Young feasted from the perimeter, knocking down six 3s. Ultimately, Joe Mazzulla elected to switch later in the second half with his bigs rather than giving up uncontested looks coming around screens. Young cooled off enough for the Celtics to survive a late push from Atlanta but Boston clearly benefitted from a tough shooting night from Young’s supporting cast beyond Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Celtics All-Stars have their way with Hawks defense: With Boston’s big name additions on the bench, the Celtics All-Stars got their chance to carry Boston’s offense yet again with minimal firepower around them. The duo was up to the task against a subpar Hawks defense for much of the evening with Tatum feasting on Hawks players in isolation spots for much of the night to score a game-high 34 points. He did pile up six turnovers but made up for it with smart attacks against weaker defenders and playing a savvy two-man game with Derrick White. Brown also excelled inside the arc against the Hawks’ defense and the extra attention both All-Stars drew opened up easy looks for the rest of the Celtics’ offense for much of the night.