(Atlanta, GA) – State Farm Arena was pretty packed last night when the Hawks hosted the Celtics and no it wasn’t just because LeBron James’ old running mate Kyrie Irving was in the building or beloved former Atlanta star Al Horford or the fact that popular actress Taraji P. Henson and uber successful producer Will Packer were courtside. No….I believe it has everything to do with how this Atlanta Hawks team is finally starting to mesh.
They shocked the league when they blew out OKC 142-126. A win that highlighted the dynamic between a rookie and a second year player. You can’t deny the magic between John Collins and Trae Young and coming into this matchup against Boston, Hawks’ fans were anxious to see more of the same. The effort and the growth is essentially what will ultimately define this young team this season. And boy did they come out swinging.
The Hawks needed to handle four core areas against the Celtics. Somehow contain Kyrie or go head to head with him, watch the turnovers, use that speed that has them pushing it faster than any other team in the NBA right now and take advantage of Trae Young around the perimeter where he’s currently shooting 42%. It’s doesn’t hurt to swing that thing around to Kevin Heurter either. The boy can shoot.
Granted Gordon Hayward was out but so was Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince still isn’t 100 percent. Speaking of Prince, I know the general rule of thumb is to shoot yourself out of a slump. But when that shot isn’t falling, pass it off. In the first half, he was 2 for 8 from the field, 0 for 5 at the 3pt line. It’s okay to find other ways to create plays and produce.
The Hawks were ahead 60-67 at the half and at times led by as much as 12. A 3rd qtr altercation, in which Marcus Smart lost his mind and charged at Deandre’ Bembry swinging at whoever is in front of him (a ref in this case) and being so out of control that it caused a senior member of the Celtics security team to fall to the ground, looked to derail Boston. But, by the 4th quarter the Celtics would find their fire and not only tie the score but pull away from the Hawks.
Kyrie Irving was stellar as usual leading all scorers with 32. But despite the 113-106 defeat, the Hawks continued to show just how diverse and promising this team is. Compromised of power, speed, accuracy and flash, swag or drip depending on how old you are….the Hawks looked liked a team that’s learning each other’s strengths and deepening its chemistry. John Collins is a beast around the rim, Jeremy Lin is like a secret assassin who can kill you at the arch or flip a behind the back pass just when you think he’s going to go for the short jumper. Trae Young is shooting 42% from the perimeter right now…that’s not just good..that’s elite. And we haven’t even gone into the skill sets that Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince and Deandre’ Bembry bring. Simply put, the ingredients are there. Thee Hawks just need to perfect the recipe.
Up next, the Hawks will host the Magic on MLK day while the Celtics welcome the Heat.