‘It could’ve been a sweep but we ain’t talking about that’
The Atlanta Hawks pulled the most out-of-the-blue night we’ve seen throughout the NBA playoffs.
Alright, maybe second to Draymond Green, right?
Nevertheless, the underdog Hawks were anything but in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, playing like a top-seeded Eastern Conference opponent and earning a much-deserved win as a result. With a 130-122 loss, the Celtics have just a one-game advantage over the Hawks and are now 0-for-1 on the road in the playoffs to begin.
“It’s just a matter of will and they wanted it more tonight,” Marcus Smart told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “They go every night, and we gotta be able to stop that. They get second-chance shots, they get to feeling good. So we do a good job of our first-shot defense, just gotta clean it up with the rebounds.”
The Hawks committed 18 turnovers and knocked down fewer outside shots; however, gave themselves a fighting chance with 23 second-chance points to Boston’s nine.
When the game came down to the wire, it was the Hawks who connected on the high-leverage shots. Trae Young (over Al Horford) and Dejounte Murray (over Derrick White) shined in the spotlight, cornering Boston to the point where a comeback became no longer within reach. When the Celtics were in dire need of a response, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were nowhere to be found.
“They made some tough shots, as we knew they would,” Smart said. “They’re back in front of their crowd, they’re back home. Get that little extra boost when you’re back home. We just gotta do a better job and continue to make things tough on them. You tip your hat off and move on to the next one.”
Playing 33 minutes, Smart, like the Hawks, registered his strongest playoff showing as well. The 29-year-old leader scored 24 points while shooting 9-for-19 and 5-for-12 from 3-point territory with three rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Still leading the series, 2-1, all that’s left for the Celtics is to regroup and prevent Atlanta’s Game 3 win from snowballing into a greater issue.
“It could’ve been a sweep but we ain’t talking about that,” Smart explained. “… We came out to play tonight and we lost. So we gotta come back and play again.”
Read More: Celtics’ Marcus Smart Felt Hawks ‘Wanted It More’ In Game 3 2023-04-22 04:38:53