Trae Young had his greatest game of the playoffs, scoring 32 points, and the Atlanta Hawks gave themselves a ray of hope by defeating the Boston Celtics 130-122 on Friday night to cut the deficit in the opening-round series to 2-1. Young’s performance was his best of the playoffs.
After Jaylen Brown missed a 3-pointer that would have knotted the game for the Celtics, Trae Young scored big for the Thunder by sinking a floater in the lane with 45 seconds left. This came after Young had just nailed a step-back 3-pointer from the corner with 2:21 left on the clock.
In Game 4, which will occur on Sunday night at State Farm Arena, the seventh-seeded Hawks will compete against the second-seeded Celtics to tie the series.
Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 29 points as the Celtics cruised through the opening two series games without resistance.
After hitting only 14 of his 40 shots in Boston, Young was scrutinized for his performance. In Game 3, he performed much higher, converting on 12 of his 22 tries and dishing up nine assists.
Dejounte Murray had another strong game for the Hawks, scoring 25 points and hitting a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to play that helped Atlanta maintain a slender lead. Murray’s shot was the difference in the game.
In contrast to the previous two games played in Boston, in which the Celtics raced out to large leads and coasted to a pair of victories by 13 points each, the Hawks finally put up a fight in the third and final game.
The Hawks were able to capitalize on a gap in the Boston Celtics’ defense when Derrick White was sent to the bench early in the game due to two quick fouls. This allowed the Hawks to start things moving. During the first half, Atlanta had a shooting percentage of 65.2%, making 30 of their 46 field goal attempts.
The Hawks were able to build their largest lead of the series late in the first half, which was 14. They were energized by the standing-room-only crowd that was there.
The Celtics were able to rally with eight unanswered points, but they still headed into the locker room behind 74-67.
That was the first win for Atlanta against Boston thus far in this season. The Hawks were victorious in just one of their three regular-season matchups.
White, who plays for the Celtics, was called for two fouls in the opening five minutes, which limited his playing time in the first half to 9 minutes and 58 seconds. Marcus Smart took a hard fall on his lower back with approximately two and a half minutes remaining in the game, but he continued to play and scored 24 points.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter for the Hawks, Bogdan Bogdanovic was struck in the face by a shot that was created by Malcolm Brogdan’s layup. Bogdanovic grimaced in discomfort and was eventually replaced by another player during a break. As a result of feeling unwell before the game, Dominique Wilkins, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, did not provide analysis for the Hawk’s regional coverage. Beside the play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun, Brian Oliver sat in the regular place occupied by Wilkins.