The Hawks have had their moments in these first two games, but they simply haven’t had enough fortitude or firepower to withstand the relentless avalanche that is the Boston Celtics.
Boston earned a hard-fought, 119-106 Game 2 win Tuesday at TD Garden to take a 2-0 series lead. This one was generally more competitive than the last, yet the final margin was the same.
Jayson Tatum led the way with 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Derrick White poured in 26 on 11-of-16 shooting, Jaylen Brown added 18 and Malcolm Brogdon and Al Horford each finished plus-20. White, in particular, was a catalyst in critical moments.
The final score doesn’t tell the whole story, but it does show how dangerous the Celtics can be even after aa sluggish start.
The Hawks jumped out to a 22-11 edge, as Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter got in a rhythm early and hit shots that Atlanta missed the bulk of Game 1.
Robert Williams responded with three straight layups, spearheading an 11-0 run to tie it. Brogdon nonchalantly banked in a half-court heave as time expired, helping the Celtics take a 28-25 lead through one.
It felt like the Celtics got the Hawks’ best shot, but they flicked it aside as if it were nothing and seized command.
Sam Hauser canned a corner 3 and played admirable defense early in the second. Brogdon stayed aggressive and attacked the basket. Tatum missed a bunny and immediately answered with a string of buckets. Boston capitalized in transition and built a 61-49 halftime edge.
The Celtics shot 54.3 percent from the field and had five blocks. Tatum led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds in the half, White added 12 and Brogdon finished plus-21 with six assists in 16 minutes. Sometimes plus-minus can be misleading, but in this case, it was anything but.
Horford swatted a shot on one end and drained a 3 on the other to push the margin to 79-59 midway through the third, but Dejounte Murray caught fire late to cut the Celtics’ lead to 90-81 through three.
Marcus Smart also had a strong quarter for the Celtics, and Jaylen Brown found a rhythm, but Atlanta didn’t go away quietly.
Bogdan Bogdanovic caught fire early in the fourth, as the margin fluctuated between single and double digits, but White continued to steady the Celtics. Celtics fans serenaded him with “M-V-P” chants, as he helped steer Boston to victory.
Every time the Celtics needed to make a play, they did – the sign of a team more than capable of winning it all.
Game 3 is Friday night at 7 p.m. in Atlanta.