Boston survives Hawks’ claws to advance to another NBA Playoff semifinal appearance

Boston’s Jayson Tatum dunks against the Atlanta Hawks in the Celtics’ 128-120 series-clinching NBA playoff win. (Kevin C. Cox / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Boston Celtics proved time and time again that execution will always be their bread and butter after eliminating the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of their NBA Playoff Eastern Conference first-round matchup, 128-120, last April 28, 2023.

Boston showed their patient approach both defensively and offensively that helped them overcome another huge night from Atlanta superstar Trae Young.

Young picked up where he left off after the momentum-clinching Game 5 win and already put up 25 markers after the first half.

However, as part of the Celtics’ signature half time adjustment, Young was only limited to five points in the second half after Boston gave him different defensive schemes.

Despite Young struggling from the field, the trio of Dejounte Murray, John Collins, and De’Andre Hunter helped Atlanta go toe-to-toe with the Celtics’ waxing hot offense.

The whole final frame then turned into a wild back-and-forth as Boston was able to answer every big bucket from Atlanta, thanks to the scoring consistency of star shooting guard Jaylen Brown who was single-handedly torching the Hawks.

With Boston trailing by three points, 110-113, Brown rose for a pull-up three-pointer over the defense of Murray that equalized the ball game at 113-all.

As Atlanta when on a cold shooting stretch, Boston’s superstar small forward Jayson Tatum went to work and drilled two clutch treys followed by a crucial Al Horford shot from downtown to open up a six-point lead with only two minutes left.

After another Young miss, Marcus Smart, Boston’s former Defensive Player of the Year, iced the game for the Celtics after drilling an important three followed by a crafty drive in the middle of the lane.

“Just understanding it was time. It was a back-and-forth game. They were hitting big shots; we were hitting big shots. We could feel it. Everybody was locked in, getting blocks, chasing down rebounds, hitting big shots. We’ve been in that situation before as a unit,” Tatum said after the game.

Brown led the charge for the Celtics after dropping a game-high 32 points while Tatum added 30 markers including 14 big rebounds and seven assists.

With the win, the Celtics will be arranging a highly-anticipated Eastern Conference semifinal clash with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.