1. The Boston Celtics 2023 NBA Playoffs run is off to a great begin. Certain, the Atlanta Hawks made it semi-interesting within the second half, however Boston was by no means not in management after the halfway level of the primary quarter.
This was sort of a throwback again to the 2022 Celtics model of play. Boston’s protection was elite, as they held Atlanta underneath 39%. The Celtics guarded the arc extraordinarily properly, by staying connected to Trae Younger and leaving lesser shooters open. When the Hawks acquired inside, the Celtics had been there to problem pictures over and over.
On offense, the easiest way to explain Boston’s strategy is overpowering. The Hawks projected to have a bonus within the paint, however in Recreation 1, the Celtics matched them with 54 factors within the paint. At no level was Boston settling for three-pointers. They took 33 triples, however most of them had been off drive-and-kick performs the place the protection was in rotation. General, a whopping 30 of Boston’s 33 three-point makes an attempt had been categorised as open or wide-open.
That every one got here as a result of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum set a tone early that they had been going to get to the rim each time they wished. As Atlanta adjusted, a few of these drives became kickouts to shooters.
In some ways, Recreation 1 performed out as anticipated. The Hawks merely don’t have the defensive expertise to gradual the Celtics down. And if Boston goes to defend like this, Atlanta gained’t have the ability to rating effectively sufficient to make it a lot of a sequence.
2. Jaylen Brown had some points with the reduce on his proper hand, and he stated it opened again up throughout the sport. That precipitated some ballhandling and passing miscues at occasions. However principally, Brown performed by means of it fairly properly. He acquired to his pictures with little hassle.
This was a lightning-quick Eurostep right here:
Atlanta acquired cross-matched in transition quite a bit on this sport. On this one, Brown drew Onyeka Okongwu. As a substitute of forcing the drive, Brown used a dribble sequence to get to the great step-back:
The persistence from Marcus Sensible right here was terrific. He holds up the break to let Brown circle round him. And, as they’ve repeatedly accomplished within the second half of the season, Sensible discovered Brown reducing by means of the backdoor:
That is pure scoring craft. John Collins comes up with the great strip, however Brown recovers the ball. He doesn’t rush right into a second shot. As a substitute, he will get to his spot and works Collins for an up-and-under end that might make Kevin McHale proud:
As soon as once more, Brown drew an enormous right here. This time it’s Clint Capela. We known as out within the sequence preview that Capela isn’t fairly nearly as good guarding on the perimeter as he was once. Brown units him up properly earlier than drilling the jumper over him:
3. The Hawks don’t have good solutions for guarding Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum. Dejounte Murray is their solely good on-ball defender, as De’Andre Hunter has by no means fairly developed as hoped for in that position.
In Recreation 1, Murray picked up Tatum quite a bit. As a substitute of taking part in with the ball, Tatum used his dimension benefit. Tatum is simply too massive and too good on this one:
This bucket got here on Hunter, but it surely’s the identical kind of factor. It’s additionally a great instance of how Boston will use their bigs as facilitators:
With a few guys lurking within the assist spots, Tatum makes use of his dimension and carry to shoot over Murray right here:
The spacing is a bit of messy right here, however the course of is nice. Tatum and Derrick White run pick-and-roll to select up the change. Tatum goes proper to the block. White doesn’t have the entry move, however Rob Williams does. The result’s straightforward cash for Tatum within the put up:
That is the ultimate shot from Boston within the first half. It’s a great instance of the stress the Celtics placed on a not-good Hawks protection. There’s no motive for John Collins to step away from Jayson Tatum right here, nor for Murray to drop with White after he screened. And the end result was pretty predictable:
4. Derrick White is superior. We might finish it there with scarcely a murmured disagreement. However we’ll present you why anyway.
Trae Younger dies on the display. The large sticks with Rob Williams on the roll. White pulls up for the three:
Younger dies on the display. The large drops. White pulls up for the three:
That is the uncommon good restoration from the Hawks, however they let White drive the closeout after which lose Marcus Sensible on the late reduce:
The Hawks straight change this display motion. White is overflowing with confidence by this level, so he pulls up off the dribble over John Collins:
No thought what Atlanta is doing right here. Bogdan Bogdanovic appears to assume he and Saddiq Bey have switched. Bey appear to assume it was a hedge and recuperate. White doesn’t hesitate and punishes their confusion:
5. The Hawks have a reasonably good dimension benefit inside. However the Celtics protected the rim with nice success in Recreation 1. Boston tallied seven blocks and had just a few different massive performs across the basket too.
Derrick White acquired his nightly block on the rim out of the way in which very early:
Typically a block will be described as “erasing the shot” and that’s precisely what Rob Williams did right here:
Marcus Sensible learn this entire play from Atlanta completely. After which he made the play on the rim to interrupt up the lob:
And late within the fourth quarter, Marcus Sensible made a type of signature Marcus Sensible performs in transition:
6. Rob Williams regarded nearly as good in Recreation 1 as he has all season. He was a damaging pressure on protection. On offense, Williams gave Boston that vertical ingredient that solely he brings.
It is a known as set from Joe Mazzulla. On the finish, Jayson Tatum is sort of a quarterback. He throws the ball simply understanding Williams will go up and get it:
Poor Jalen Johnson. He misses the shot to begin this clip, then he’s the one one who acquired again. There’s no sensible choice right here, however he steps to Jaylen Brown, who lobs to Rob:
Al Horford acquired Boston the second likelihood. Derrick White didn’t rush after which observed Williams with solely Trae Younger close to him on the rim:
Sensible missed this primary shot, however his hustle gave us a spotlight lob to Rob:
7. Al Horford had one of many loudest six-point, nine-rebound video games you’ll ever watch. He was a defender and rebounder first. And he was nice in that position. However when the Hawks had been nonetheless kind of hanging round, it was Horford who buried a wanted three to maintain them at bay:
8. It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine for Boston. They let go of the rope massive time within the second half of the sport. After scoring 45 factors within the second quarter, the Celtics solely scored 38 factors in your complete second half.
A giant a part of that was being sloppy with the ball on offense. Boston turned it over eight occasions within the second half, and that led to some straightforward transition buckets for Atlanta. 5 of these giveaways got here within the third quarter, when the Hawks discovered some life.
Now, on the plus aspect, despite the fact that the Celtics offense was messy within the second half, they locked in throughout the fourth quarter. They held the Hawks to simply underneath 35% capturing within the fourth quarter. That’s the kind of elite protection that may win a title.
9. On its face, rebounding appeared like a problem for Boston. Atlanta grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. However there’s extra context wanted than simply that quantity.
The Celtics had been solely a tick under their NBA-leading 78.5% defensive rebounding price. A giant a part of the explanation the Hawks acquired 14 offensive boards was that they missed 60 complete pictures within the sport.
The opposite piece of context price noting: Regardless of creating 14 second-chances, Atlanta solely scored 12 second-chance factors.
It wasn’t an ideal rebounding night time for the Celtics, however many of the Hawks offensive boards got here on account of quantity vs actually dominating the glass. And Boston cleaned issues up on the second shot as a rule.
10. For a staff that’s nonetheless coping with some bumps and bruises, and depends closely on Al Horford, Boston will welcome the 2 days off earlier than Recreation 2. They’ll get some relaxation and work on cleansing up a few of the sloppiness that plagued them after constructing the large lead.
General, the 2023 Playoffs are off to a fantastic begin for the Celtics. We’ll see on Tuesday if they’ll take a 2-0 sequence lead earlier than heading to Atlanta.