While Jayson Tatum finally found his offensive rhythm in a 110-99 loss to Atlanta, the Celtics (7-8) had little from secondary sources. The Hawks (7-9), however, had four players score at least 18 points in a balanced effort that improved their home record to 6-1.
Tatum got himself going early, scoring 11 first-quarter points to keep Boston within striking distance. The end of the first half proved to be the difference as Atlanta stretched their lead to 9 at the break.
After the Celtics clawed their way back to down just 70-66 in the middle of the third quarter, a pair of Bogdan Bogdanovic threes ballooned the Hawks lead back to 10. Boston never quite made another push, failing to get within less than 8 points for the remainder of the night.
For a team missing Jaylen Brown, the Celtics failed to find enough offense off the bench or enough support in the starting lineup for Tatum’s 34-point effort.
Here are individual grades for the Celtics in their loss:
Grant Williams: B+
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) goes up for a shot as Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Williams got off to a hot start, scoring the first five Celtics points of the night. After that, it was a defensive struggle against John Collins and the Hawks.
The Tennessee product did provide some desperately needed offense to compliment Tatum, finishing with 18 points on 6-12 from the field.
Al Horford: B
Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) works against Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
It was a relatively quiet offensive night for Horford, who finished 5-9 from the field for 13 points. The Celtics big man couldn’t find the range from distance, but did a decent job on the glass and at limiting the Hawks on the interior.
Marcus Smart: B-
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) drives against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The Celtics needed more from Smart in terms of scoring, as the point guard finished with 8 points on just 3-10 shooting while going 0-4 from three-point range. He was able to find others and initiate the offense relatively effectively, as he dished out a team-high 11 assists compared to just 2 turnovers.
Dennis Schroder: B-
Boston Celtics guard Dennis Schroder (71) drives as Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
It wasn’t necessarily a poor night offensively for Schroder, who finished with 15 points on 6-12 from the field, but the Celtics need more from their guards with Brown sidelined.
The expectations have to be high offensively for one of the best solo bucket-getters in the rotation, and Brown’s absence only furthers the need for the German to fill it up offensively. He wasn’t able to have the level of offensive impact needed to win a game like this on the road.
Jayson Tatum: A
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) goes in for a basket as Atlanta Hawks guard Delon Wright (0) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
What a welcome sight for Celtics fans that definitely means more than a single win or loss. Tatum was back offensively, delivering his first 30-plus point effort in six games to try and will Boston to a win. The first quarter was the key, as the Duke product filled it up to the tune of 11 points in the opening frame.
Tatum finished with a game-high 34 points on 12-22 from the field, and seemed to be the only Celtics player who had it going from distance.