Poor Shooting Dooms Celtics in Atlanta

Hawks 93, Celtics 85. Well, that wasn’t a very good showing. The Hawks are slowly becoming a thorn in the Celtics side. They’re a decent team, to be sure, but they raise their game so much every time they play Boston that they usually wind up winning. The C’s should be able to handle teams like this, and they usually do, except when they’re playing Atlanta. It’s frustrating to watch your team play down to their opponents, and that’s what we saw last night. The Hawks are to the Celtics what the Kansas City Royals are to the Red Sox: the bad team that always manages to beat us, despite losing to everybody else.

Statistically, it’s hard to look at this game and point out the main reason why Boston lost Friday night. They were about even with the Hawks for rebounds, assists, turnover, points in the paint, fast break points, points off of turnovers, and three-point success. The only statistic where there is much separation is shooting percentage, where the Hawks shot nearly 10% better than the Celtics did. All of this points to the Celtics just getting flat out beat. They shot the ball poorly and they lost because of it.

We can’t look at the starters and say they did not hold up their end of the bargain. Once again, all of them scored in the double digits. They actually outscored Atlanta’s starters by a couple of points. Where there was a big difference in scoring was in the benches of both teams. The Celtics bench only managed to put up 12 points. The Hawks nearly doubled that, scoring 22 points. Jamal Crawford scored 18 off the bench, making him the highest scorer on Atlanta and second only to Paul Pierce’s 21 overall. This meant that tonight the Hawks were the lengthier team by far. Their starters held their own against ours, then when we had to go to the bench they were able to build up leads.

The Celtics are a team clearly trying to hang on as they try to weather the storm of injuries and illnesses that have been plaguing them for the last week or so. As they get healthier, they will start returning to form. Until then, however, you’re going to see the occasional game like this. The Celtics didn’t really do any one thing so badly that it cost them the game. The starters played well, they defended the three-ball decently (or at least gave up fewer treys than they scored), and they paced the Hawks in most statistically important categories. But they shot a bit worse than Atlanta did, and their bench struggled a bit, and that’s the ballgame. It’s disappointing, but in every season you’ll have games like this once in awhile. The best thing to do is remember that it’s just one loss, and that they Celtics are capable of playing much better than they did Friday night. 93 is usually a beatable score for them, so any night when you can hold a team to that low a score is a game you know the C’s will have at least a chance of winning. Last night, they didn’t. Next Monday, when they see Atlanta again (after a Sunday game against Toronto), perhaps they will.

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