The Boston Celtics were held to just 72 points, and just 7 points in the first quarter, by the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their first round series on Tuesday. The Hawks prevailed with an 89-72 victory to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Hawks ran away with a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Their veteran front court duo of Paul Millsap and Al Horford made life increasingly difficult for the likes of Kent Bazemore and Isiah Thomas to drive to the basket.
Thomas, Boston’s best player, shot 4-15 from the field while sophomore guard Marcus Smart went 1-11 from the field for his 3 points. Jae Crowder went 1-9 from the field (0-4 3pt) for his 2 points while Amir Johnson added 14 points and 8 rebounds.
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Celtics: Historically-bad offense…
ESPN shed some light on Boston’s historically-bad shooting night which saw them make just three out of their first 23 shots in the first quarter, missing all six attempts from deep.
“According to STATS, the previous record for fewest points in an opening playoff quarter during the shot-clock era was eight, initially set by Utah in a 1988 game against the Los Angeles Lakers and matched by Dallas in 2010 at San Antonio. The league went to the 24-second clock in 1954.”
“It was also Boston’s lowest-scoring playoff quarter since the NBA was founded in 1949. The team made one playoff appearance in the league’s predecessor, the Basketball Association of America (BAA), but records from that series were not available.”
Hawks’ defense simply stifled the Celtics and never allowed Brad Stevens’ team to stage a comeback. Though Boston had a better second half, scoring 18 in the third and 28 in the fourth, they couldn’t muster enough offense to overcome the first half deficit. The Celtics desperately missed their best perimeter defender, Avery Bradley, but that was no excuse for scoring just 72 points.
For the Hawks, Horford and Kyle Korver led the way with 17 points apiece while Jeff Teague and Thabo Sefolosha added 13 and 12 points respectively. Korver had a great shooting night, hitting 7 out of his 7 three-pointers, after failing to connect from deep during Game 1 on Sunday. Bazemore played lockdown perimeter defense, besides collecting 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
The Celtics and Hawks will now travel to Boston for Game 3 on Friday.