Game 82 of the regular season saw the Hawks matchup with the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. All of Atlanta’s normal starters — save for the ramping up De’Andre Hunter — had the day off, whereas the Celtics rested their normal starters minus Derrick White.
The Celtics got threes up early and often — hitting 6 of their first 11 field goal attempts all from deep range — but here Saddiq Bey counters with one of his own early in the contest.
Atlanta and Boston went deep into their bench, as was expected, but the lone Hawks starter had himself a productive first quarter with nine points, two rebounds, and a thunderous dunk.
Even Bruno Fernando got into the action in the first quarter, as Atlanta would use an 11-2 run to take a 31-29 lead after 12 minutes.
Bruno Fernando was ready for the Kornet Kontest lol. pic.twitter.com/fbUWXUSEmO— Kevin Chouinard (@KLChouinard) April 9, 2023
Bruno Fernando, Jalen Johnson and Garrison Mathews would continue to lead the charge for Atlanta, who settled into a back-and-forth battle with Boston. That trio off the bench totaled 25 points in 28 minutes of action in the first half.
Atlanta took at lead into the halftime locker room by slowing down Boston’s three-point attack somewhat by the end of the first half, as Boston ended with a 13-for-30 (43%) mark from deep at the halfway point. The Hawks flipped the script from inside, however, logging 36 points in the paint to the Celtics’ 12 after 24 minutes.
The Celtics, and Sam Hauser in particular, began the second half much like the first: by burying threes from everywhere. The Celtics quickly flipped a deficit into a double-digit lead. Atlanta would hang around, however, with transition contributions from Jalen Johnson among others.
AJ Griffin got going in the fourth quarter, as the Hawks attempted to hang with Boston’s barrage of shooting. Here is Griffin draining a deep one of his own.
Still, Atlanta would be unable to mount a comeback with their deep bench players and fell to the Celtics, 120-114. The Hawks defense allowed Payton Pritchard to net a triple-double and the Celtics as a whole to shoot 25-for-52 (47%) from three.
Bruno Fernando had a solid game, recording a double-double of his own with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Garrison Mathews also added 19 points including 4-for-11 (36%) shooting from three.
The loss moves Atlanta to 41-41 on the season. The Hawks had already locked up the 8-seed and will meet the Heat in Miami on Tuesday evening. Should they win, they will enter the Playoffs as the 7-seed and meet the Celtics again, this time in a Best-of-Seven first round series. Should they lose, however, they will have one last chance to enter the Playoffs as an 8-seed to face the Milwaukee Bucks by beating the winner of the 9-seed and 10-seed matchup.