The Hawks on the other hand, were as bad as they could be, some was due to the Celtics game plan, some was self inflicted.
Here are some key takeaways from game one, heading into game two.
Healthy Rob Williams
I’m not sure most NBA fans understand how good and how valuable Robert Williams is for the Boston Celtics.
When Rob is healthy and playing at peak level, there is no team in the league that is better than the Celtics.
For a team that already has incredible individual defenders, he makes it an incredible team defense, he ties together the loose ends.
He allows the guards to be more aggressive on the ball because they know if they get beat they have Rob on the backend to clean up their mistakes.
Offensively, he brings a skill nobody else has, his athleticism makes him near impossible to stop at the rim which opens up the lane as defenders have to worry about him going vertical for a lob.
On top of this, he’s one of the most underrated passers in the league, he can make split second decisions and reads in DHOs, and when handling the ball in the post.
The one thing that holds Rob back is his health, missing 11 games in last year’s post season, and 47 games in this year’s regular season.
In game one, he looked like healthy peak Rob, and if that’s the level he’s at all post season it’ll be tough to beat the Celtics.
Full Year of Derrick White
It’s been discussed on this site and around Celtics twitter, but Derrick White with a full off season and regular season to get acclimated has been a blessing.
Derrick all season long has been great for this team, but in this game he was one of the best players on the floor putting up 24 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
He was also great on defense, holding Trae to six points on 2-7 shooting when he was the primary defender.
What Brad Stevens has done as GM with trades and free agency moves including bringing in White at the deadline last year has been fantastic. He was a great coach, and to this point, has been an even better GM.
The 26th Ranked Defense Showed Up
The Hawks have been bad on defense all season allowing 118 points per game, so when going up against an offense as talented as the Celtics you’d expect they’d be bad on that side.
And bad, they were.
It was jarring at times how easily the Celtics were getting to the rim, and although they’ve been bad all year they do have a talented individual defender in Deandre Hunter, and rim protector in Clint Capela but even they were no shows.
The most surprising thing was the lack of effort on that side of the ball considering it is now the playoffs, expect the effort, at the very least, to be better moving forward.
The Third Ranked Offense Did Not Show Up
The Hawks offense will not be this bad again for the rest of the series.
A team that averages 118 points per game on 48% shooting and 35% from three was held to 99 points on 38.8% and 17% from three.
The 99 points were just the third time they were held under 100 all year.
As good as the Celtics defense was, the Hawks missed a ton of shots they usually make, you have to think some of those will correct themselves and we will see a team closer to its 82 game averages than we did in game one.
All Games Count The Same
The Celtics would be up 1-0 if the game was won by a buzzer beater like last year or by 100 points.
The Hawks won’t lay down and call it quits because they were down 30 at half, in fact I think the Hawks leave this game feeling better about the series.
The Celtics did everything they needed too in order to handle this game.
Coming in they knew how the Hawks win, and they were able to limit those things.
The Cs took care of the glass, winning the rebounding battle 61 to 52, and only allowed 14 offensive rebounds compared to 12 of their own.
They held the Hawks high powered offense to 99 points, and only 17% from three.
They took their star out of the game, holding Trae Young to 16 points on 5 for 18 shooting.
And still, the Hawks were able to cut a 30 point halftime deficit to a 12 point deficit with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
They found success in transition, winning the fast break points battle 13-0 in the second half.
For the Hawks to get beat in every aspect of the game that they normally win, and still be able to field a comeback and put the pressure on the Celtics gives them momentum rolling into the next game.
With that being said, if the Celtics control what they have to, and keep their foot on the gas they should be able to keep the Hawks at bay.
Game Two Tuesday 7:30pm at the garden.