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Goodwin leads comeback charge, Hawks fall short in loss to Celtics

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Another strong game for Goodwin but not enough to lift the Hawks over the hump.

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks wrapped their two-game mini-trip on Friday night as they travelled to Boston for their final matchup of the season against the Boston Celtics.

Similar to Monday’s swing at State Farm Arena, both sides were missing personnel but, as it was on Monday, the Hawks were hurting a little more in that regard, having to go this one without Trae Young, Cam Reddish, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruno Fernando and the recently acquired Dewayne Dedmon, Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere.

The Celtics — without Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Daniel Theis — were heavily favored heading into this game and it was ultimately no surprise that they eventually took the win, 112-107, but that only tells part of the story.

If you missed the game and want to catch up on how it unfolded as it unfolded, you can do so here.

We’re going to skip to the end of the third quarter, a point where the Hawks are trailing by 17 points after a difficult third quarter where the Hawks had actually entered with a lead.

The Hawks have possession of the ball with just over 24 seconds remaining and Jeff Teague has to force up a three as the shot clock winds down and hits it:

This was huge because instead of heading into the final quarter with a 17 point hole, it’s 14 points and that’s huge. Down 17, the Celtics would’ve been one 5-0 run from a 20+ point deficit and heads drops after that but down 14, that’s a bit more doable.

The Hawks quickly cut the lead to below double digits and though the Celtics did push that at times back to double digits, it was under 10 for the most part in the final quarter.

As he has done a couple of times already this season, Brandon Goodwin again stepped up in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 21 points in the final period.

Goodwin gets the comeback started with this three-pointer, rejecting the screen as he quickly shifts to the left and rises into the three-pointer:

On the next possession, the Hawks come up with the steal through Kevin Huerter, who gets it ahead to Goodwin who scores in transition:

Fast-forward to late in the fourth quarter where the Hawks have cut the lead to just five points with under three minutes to play. The next possession after that, Marcus Smart handles out front where he’s faced with Huerter. Smart is able to put Huerter on the back-foot and this forces the rotation from Vince Carter, who has to rotate to challenge at the rim. Smart kicks it to Romeo Langford who hits the three and puts the Celtics back up by eight:

You look at that and think “Well, how were they going to to stop that?” but I think you have to look at John Collins on this possession. Collins is unaware of the drive from Smart and Vince Carter can’t wait for him to spot it — just a situation where you’d want Collins, as the help defender, to be aware and alert to it and rotate and not have to force Carter away/allow a wide-open three.

Regardless, it put the Celtics up by eight points and almost home but the Hawks had one more run in them.

Goodwin brings the lead back to five points, coming off of the Collins screen and stepping-back on Smart to hit the three-pointer:

Then off of the Celtics’ turnover, Goodwin steams in the other direction and takes it all of the way at the rim:

A pair of Kemba Walker free throws puts the Celtics back up by five points but Collins — who had a quiet fourth quarter at times — is able to immediately bring that back to three points with 41 seconds remaining after a nice roll and take out of the Huerter pick-and-roll:

On the next possession, the Hawks finally get themselves a stop as Huerter contests Jayson Tatum’s three-point attempt. Marcus Smart makes a valiant effort to recover the ball but is unable to save it:

So, now comes the most important possession of the game: the Hawks have an opportunity to tie the game, on the road, having trailed by 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Out of the timeout, Huerter’s shot is contested, but De’Andre Hunter tips the rebound out to Goodwin. The youthful guard gets a great look at the three-pointer, but it was the one he couldn’t hit:

Obviously a very good look for Goodwin, but that’s just how it goes sometimes — you see those go in so often. He may have missed the shot, but you can’t fault Goodwin and you shouldn’t let that miss miss detract what was a quality game. Without Goodwin in that fourth, there is no shot with the opportunity to tie the game.

Goodwin was obviously disappointed to miss that shot (saying on Twitter that he ‘had to hit that one’) but there was a large showing of support for Goodwin postgame from his teammates.

“I’ve been very impressed,” said Collins of Goodwin via Sarah Spencer of the AJC. “Over this year, I would say he’s been very clutch, or very timely with what he does, when he comes in, minutes and impact. I feel like that’s really big for him, when he does come in, he makes an immediate impact and immediate spark.”

Of course, Goodwin’s game had people talking — once again — about how he should be signed to a longer term deal than the two-way deal he’s currently signed to. This hasn’t been possible until now after the Jeff Teague trade took away that free roster spot for the Hawks to do it. I think we (collectively) know that Goodwin is likely to be eventually signed to a deal, even if it’s just the ‘Antonius Cleveland Special’ (for those who either weren’t around or don’t know what that is: it’s a “multi-year” deal contract but with those years being non-guaranteed) but I think Goodwin is obviously significantly better than that and probably deserves to have something guaranteed next year.

Some out there have been talking about Goodwin being better than Jeff Teague and I think that’s a little far right now. Goodwin has been a solid contributor and when he goes off like this in the fourth quarter, it’s not a surprise to anyone anymore.

“At this point, it’s not surprising. That’s what he can do,” said Huerter of Goodwin via Sarah Spencer of the AJC. “... He’s a microwave for us. He can get going and he did today and he was huge for us.”

For the Hawks and this game, they’ve shown great spirit and resilience in the absence of Young. To make a game out of this one — on the road, against a playoff team (minus two or three players), down 16 within the first few seconds of the fourth quarter and with only nine available bodies (one of them being Charlie Brown, who played 22 seconds) — the Hawks deserve credit for their efforts last night.

Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce praised his shorthanded group and was pleased with their effort over the 48 minutes.

“...Going into the fourth quarter down 14 and to get back into it the way we did was impressive. To be as shorthanded as we were was impressive,” said Pierce postgame via Fox Sports Southeast. “I commend our guys for competing, competing for 48 minutes...”

Goodwin obviously enjoyed a good game but he wasn’t the only one. It wasn’t until the latter stages of the third quarter did some of the calvary got involved, for a lot of this game it was just the Hawks leaning hard on the production of Collins and Huerter.

Collins finished 30 points and 10 rebounds, 18 of those coming in the first half.

Collins was a little quiet in the second half, particularly in the early-mid stages of that fourth quarter. He scored some big buckets later on in the quarter but he was stuck on 24 points for a while it seemed.

But, again, as he has done at times this season, Collins has assembled these, almost, monster games but they’ve become quite low-key. Collins scored 30 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and has shot over 50% consistently for a long stretch now.

30-10 is no joke of a line but when it comes from Collins, it doesn’t carry the hype or weight it does than when it’s from Young, even though what Collins is doing is very impressive. Collins had 30-10 and the general focus after this game (by which I mean the focus in the locker-room/postgame interviews) is on Goodwin (and I’ve gone and done the same thing).

Alas...

Huerter scored 25 points (one shy of his season-high) but, like Collins, was quieter in the second half — scoring 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field (you could attribute some of this to fatigue as Huerter played 43 minutes last night).

You look at those numbers and the shooting and it doesn’t add up, which means one thing: Huerter got to the free throw line! In fact, Huerter made a career-high six free throws in last night’s contest.

It’s a little underwhelming that that’s a career-high for Huerter but it also highlights that issue in his game and how drawing fouls/contact/free throws has been problematic for Huerter in his career. For reference, Huerter’s season-high for free throw attempts in a game last year was four. Four. And he did that only twice and had one game where he had three attempts — after that, it’s two or less. He played 75 games last year too.

So to see Huerter get to the line like this is a welcome bonus and it really helps boost his scoring total. It’s still the next part of his game Huerter needs to unlock — the difference potentially of him being a 15/16 perhaps 17 points per game scorer instead of the 12 point per game scorer he is at the moment.

Also really enjoyed this move by Huerter last night:

He has always been more than a shooter...

Another Hawk who enjoyed a very positive game was Treveon Graham, acquired of course in that Jeff Teague trade.

Graham scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 2-of-4 from three, add five rebounds and three blocks to that too. What goes beyond the boxscore is that Graham just played hard, hustled hard and fought for loose balls. Well, not entirely beyond the boxscore because Graham did register a team-high plus/minus of plus-17.

He was a positive for the Hawks last night and it really helps his cause for more minutes when he can knock down a three-pointer or two as he did last night. With Cam Reddish still out with a concussion and DeAndre’ Bembry still sidelined, Graham probably isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future in the rotation, and if he’s playing as he did last night that’s a good thing (though the sooner Reddish is back on the court, the better).


The Hawks (14-39) are back in action on Sunday evening as they return home to State Farm Arena where they’ll take on the New York Knicks.

Until next time...