The Atlanta Hawks won their second consecutive game as they knocked off the Boston Celtics 112-106 at the TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
Taurean Prince led the way with 33 points while Damion Lee added 14 points.
For the Celtics, they were led by Jayson Tatum’s 19 points while Greg Monroe added 17 points off of the bench.
A damaging win?
The main talking point from this game is not the Hawks’ 13 point fourth quarter comeback (by the way, before we continue any further, it’s worth noting that the Celtics’ starters — for all intents and purposes, bar Aron Baynes — didn’t play in the fourth quarter and if they had featured for any meaningful period in the fourth quarter then they win this game, that’s just how it is. It was also, basically, the Celtics’ third string team) but the damage that the win might have done to the Hawks’ chances for the upcoming draft lottery.
The win draws the Hawks level with the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks for third-worst record in the league — or, the third best odds of netting the number one pick — rather than having sole possession of the third worst record with a 24-57 record. With only one game remaining, it’s going to be hard for the Hawks to fall back into the sole possession of the third worst record — though, the Mavericks do have the Phoenix Suns on their agenda this week. It’s possible of course that the Hawks wiggle their way back into that spot, but do have to hope on other results to go their way.
But for that reason, the aftermath of this game from some fans featured rage.
It’s annoying for the fans that the Hawks picked up this win, and I totally get it. I absolutely understand. Most people understand what the Hawks’ front office wanted to do this heading into this season, and it’s frustrating to them that the Hawks have won these last two games to jeopardise the Hawks’ potential (and that has to be stressed, potential) top three draft pick. But it’s so important to remember this one detail: players do not tank.
Players do not tank.
Malcolm Delaney, as always, puts it pretty well:
So should we have just forfeited the last 10 games? Or better yet had a meeting in the locker room and said “yo let’s miss some shots so we can get a draft pick” y’all Do know players need to play and win to feed their families right? That’s not important either https://t.co/A7jaDsA0N4— malcolm delaney (@foe23) April 8, 2018
As did Kent Bazemore:
Doesn’t matter who the pick is, if we don’t get better with the guys we have then it won’t matter if we brought Jordan back. We are trying to rebuild a winning culture over here. Throwing games never got anyone anywhere.— Baze (@24Bazemore) April 8, 2018
The players play to win. A lot of these guys aren’t on deals that run into next season, and if they do, a good chunk of them are non-guaranteed. Don’t direct your anger to them, it’s futile (and Malcolm Delaney will light you up on Twitter). The draft — and the draft lottery — is not their concern.
Their concern is executing what the coach’s require when they’re on the floor, to play hard to win (just like they did yesterday) and play hard for minutes. I’m sure, if they had gotten to play, that Tyler Cavanaugh, Jeremy Evans and Josh Magette would’ve played hard if they had gotten the minutes but they didn’t play: their futures aren’t guaranteed by any means at all — everyone who is playing is playing hard.
This isn’t to say that this win against Boston was damaging to the Hawks’ draft chances — it definitely was and it could really come back to bite the Hawks (perhaps significantly) come May and June when the Hawks discover their draft selection and when it comes to selection time. But just remember it’s not the fault of the players, they just do what they’re paid to do: play.
Prince goes off in Boston...again
A huge factor behind this win was the fact Taurean Prince just exploded in this game: 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from three (having started a perfect 7-for-7) in 39 minutes of action.
It was a rough beginning to this game for Prince: some bad turnovers and some frustrating defense drew the ire of his coach during a timeout.
But it was all uphill from that point on as Prince was just unconscious from the floor — just couldn’t miss. The seven three-pointers were obviously the giant contributor toward those 33 points...he just couldn’t miss from the outside, this three in the fourth quarter just typified his night:
Though Prince committed five turnovers, he did dish five assists and some of them were quite impressive.
Prince linked up with John Collins on a number of occasions in the pick-and-roll, here was an instance of that in the first quarter as Prince draws the defense, Collins rolls to the rim and Prince finds him for the lob:
Prince teed up a number of hugely important baskets, finding Mike Muscala for the three-pointer plus the foul in one of the biggest shots for the Hawks in this game as they sliced into that 13 point Celtics lead:
Prince also set up the go-ahead basket to a cutting Dewayne Dedmon with a beautiful pass for an easy dunk:
This basket gave the Hawks the lead that they never let go.
Postgame, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer continues to take joy from Prince’s growth as he displayed his impact both as a scorer and a facilitator:
Coach Budenholzer on Taurean Prince: "I though his overall game was great." pic.twitter.com/bu0rIoM5GZ— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) April 8, 2018
It goes without saying that without Prince exploding like this, the Hawks do not win this game. 33 points marks Prince’s second consecutive 30 point game in the TD Garden, which is very impressive as it’s certainly not the easiest place to play in and succeed in.
‘No more parties in L.A.’
The Hawks are officially finished on the road — they have played their last road game this season. I’m sure that’s a relief to the Hawks because they have certainly found it rough on the road: 8-33. Only the Memphis Grizzlies (6-33) and the Orlando Magic (tied the Hawks with 8-33) have worse road records.
While the Hawks have generally had trips to forget this season, there have been some memorable victories.
The recent win in Utah comes to mind for one (a night where Dennis Schröder scored a career-high 41 points) as does the very distant victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers back in early November.
Well... That’s about it for meaningful road success. Maybe not surprising given the fact there were only eight road wins...
Anyways, the Hawks, of course, will be hoping for better fortunes on the road next season. It would be great to see the legitimate return of #RoadHawks.
The Hawks (24-57) will wrap up their season on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at Philips Arena.
Let’s do this one more time...