It wasn’t a pretty win for the Celtics, before the game Gordon Hayward was ruled out due to personal reasons, in the third quarter Marcus Smart was ejected after receiving a second technical, Marcus Morris and Al Horford shot a combined 7-21 from the field. It was a combination of another heroic Kyrie Irving fourth quarter and sloppy plays by a young Atlanta Hawks team that secured Boston the 113-105 victory.
This is Boston’s third straight win after losing three in a row. Since the start of the New Year Boston has won seven of their last 10 games and still sit in the fifth spot in the East.
Kyrie Irving Saves the Night
Maybe it was the back-to-back games, but the Celtics started the game slow and at one point were down by as many as 16. With 6:30 remaining in the second quarter Irving re-entered the game to find his team down 38-52, from there Irving scored or assisted on 20 of Boston’s 32 second quarter points, which included 15 points of his own. At the half Boston cut the 14 point lead to just seven.
During the third quarter Boston lost their defensive guy in Marcus Smart when he lost his cool with Hawks DeAndre Bembry during a jump ball. Smart and Bembry had to be separated after an exchange of words, which resulted in a double technicals that being Smart’s second he would be ejected. The defensive pressure feel on Irving and Terry Rozier once Smart was out of the game and Rozier stepped up.
Scary Terry Steps up Defensively
Over the last three games Rozier has stepped up on the defensive side after many head scratching plays on the offensive end this season. During Boston’s Florida trip that resulted in two losses to Orlando and Miami, Rozier has flipped the switch on the defensive side. In the past three games, the team has had a 93.7 defensive rating when Rozier is on the floor and his 17.5 net rating is third on the team.
Rozier has be so inconsistent on the offensive side with many questionable shots and lack of production because of a bench role. For the past couple of games Rozier has been picking up opponents full court, flying around on the defensive end and has made good decisions on offense.
Head coach Brad Stevens has praised Rozier’s effort as of late, “Terry’s playing at a high level and he can go 4 for 12 and impact us in a real positive way. Then on the nights he’s 9 for 12, he’s going to feel great and he’ll impact us in a positive way, but I’m excited about the way he’s played in the last two,” Stevens said.
Boston has a chance to avenge their loss to Miami tomorrow when the Heat visit the Celtics at TD Garden.