Brown scores 29 points, Celtics hold off Hawks late rally 112-99
BOSTON (AP) — Jaylen Brown had 29 points and 12 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics capitalized on a poor shooting performance from the Atlanta Hawks to hold the 112-99 win in Game 1 of Saturday’s Eastern Conference first-round tie.
Jayson Tatum scored 25 points, 21 of them in the first half. Derrick White finished the game with 25 points and 11 rebounds for Boston hosting Game 2 on Tuesday.
The 2nd-seeded Celtics led by as much as 32 points, pouncing on an Atlanta team that missed their first 10 3-point attempts and shot 5 of 29 from beyond the arc for the game.
Atlanta used a 32-12 run to reduce the deficit to 96-84 after Bogdan Bogdanovic scored three points early in game four.
The Celtics took the lead again to 107-87. It was 110-97 with less than two minutes to play when Atlanta’s De’Andre Hunter broke free on the fast break. But his layup attempt was blocked from behind by Marcus Smart.
Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Trae Young added 16 points.
Despite Atlanta’s late push, the Celtics sizzled from all points on the floor and connected on 13-3 pointers.
After dropping his third 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half, Tatum spread his arms wide as he walked down the court to great applause from the TD Garden crowd.
A big part of Boston’s game plan was to neutralize Young and Murray, Atlanta’s top two scorers. The Celtics did all that and more in the first three quarters.
Young, who was 10th in NBA scoring, missed his first six shots past the arc and was 5 of 18 from the field. Murray was 10 of 25 off the floor.
To keep up with Atlanta’s pace, Boston went small from the start, with White replacing big man Robert Williams in a lineup alongside Al Horford, Tatum, Brown and Smart.
It seemed to neutralize the Hawks’ attack.
Young had a particularly difficult start. He had a pass, the game’s first possession, stolen by Brown, and his first field goal attempt was blocked by White en route to his first six shots.
Atlanta coach Quin Snyder said before the game that one focus would be not turning down open 3s or being put off by missed shots.
That desire was tested when Hawks shot 9-of-25 from the field and 0-9 from beyond the arc in the opening period as the Celtics took a 29-19 lead.
With Young struggling, Boston found a rhythm early in the second and started the quarter on a 25-10 run to extend their lead to 25.
Hawks: Beat the Celtics 31-20 in the third quarter. … Young’s 28-foot shot early in the second quarter was Atlanta’s first made 3 of the game. Atlanta shot 1 of 16 of 3 in the first half.
Celtics: It was Brown’s first game since missing the last two of the regular season with a cut to a finger on his shooting hand. He played with tape and foil, but it didn’t seem to affect him. … Outperformed Hawks 45-25 in the second quarter. …Tatum had 13 points in the first quarter. … The seats in the TD Garden were covered in T-shirts that read “Unfinished Business,” a nod to Boston’s run last season, which fell short in the NBA Finals loss to Golden State. The “I” and “S” in unfinished have both been highlighted, with the “S” designed to look like an “8”, a nod to the 18th championship the franchise is aiming for. … A host of Boston sports stars sat courtside, including New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft, Bruins players David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm and Jake DeBrusk, and former Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia.
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