Celtics-Hawks takeaways: Porzingis, White make statements after ASG snubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Three Key Storylines
Al Horford is 37 going on 27
Saddiq Bey on Brad Stevens' radar?
As anticipated, it was a high-scoring affair between two of the NBA's most potent offenses. The C's erupted for 71 points in the back-and-forth first half only for the Hawks to keep pace with 67 of their own.
Boston took control in the second half, leading by as many as 13 points late in the fourth quarter. Derrick White helped the cause with 12 points (four 3-pointers) in the frame. Six Celtics players, including all five starters, scored in double figures to power their 125-117 victory.
Kristaps Porzingis and White led the group with 31 and 21 points, respectively. Jayson Tatum shook off a rough shooting night with a strong fourth quarter to finish with 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.
The Celtics (39-12) will wrap up their seven-game homestand Friday night against the Washington Wizards (9-40). First, here are three takeaways from Wednesday's action.
Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White make statements after ASG snubs
Porzingis was snubbed for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game despite enjoying a stellar debut season with the C's. In his first game since missing out on the trip to Indiana, he let his play do the talking.
The Latvian big man wasted little time, setting the tone with 10 first-quarter points and finishing the half with 16 on 6-of-7 shooting. He picked up where he left off to start the third with a thunderous jam on an alley-oop assist from White.
Porzingis starred for the second consecutive game. After dropping 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting to propel Boston to victory over Memphis, he ended up with a game-high 31 (13-19 FG) to lead the way vs. Atlanta. He added three rebounds and two blocks.
It was only fitting that Porzingis hit the dagger in the fourth.
Before that Porzingis dagger, it was White keeping the Celtics afloat. The All-Defensive guard has consistently stepped up in crunch time and that continued with his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.
He added seven assists, six rebounds, a steal, and a block to his stat line while shooting 8-of-14 from the floor. There's a strong argument to be made for both Porzingis and White belonging in Indiana later this month.
Al Horford is 37 going on 27
With no Jrue Holiday (right elbow sprain), Horford got the start for the C's on Wednesday night. It marked his 21st start through 42 games played.
The two days of rest did wonders for the 37-year-old big man. Horford notched 14 points in the first half for his highest-scoring half of the campaign.
Horford did a little bit of everything to help the C's pull off the win. In addition to his 14 points, which consisted of four 3-pointers (5-12 FG, 4-9 3-PT), he was a force on the defensive end. He brought down eight boards, dished eight assists, tallied four blocks, and added two steals.
He had the highlight of the night with a hustle steal and save resulting in a 3-pointer on the other end.
It's hard to believe Horford will turn 38 in just a few months. With Wednesday's performance, he became the oldest player and the first big man ever to log 10+ points, 8+ rebounds, 8+ assists, 4+ blocks, and 4+ 3-pointers in a game, per StatMuse.
The oldest player AND the first big man in NBA history with
in a game. https://t.co/ytmmtoTfnY
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 8, 2024
Strong audition for Saddiq Bey
Hawks forward Saddiq Bey has earned a reputation as a "Celtics killer" over his three-plus NBA seasons. That trend continued on Wednesday night.
The Villanova product came out firing with 10 points in the first quarter and finished the half with 18 on 7-of-10 shooting (4-5 3-PT). He was the game's second-highest scorer with 25 points (9-16 FG, 4-7 3PT) on the night, trailing only Porzingis.
First bucket of the night courtesy of Saddiq pic.twitter.com/07evb97vLr
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) February 8, 2024
Bey, 24, is an intriguing option for the C's ahead of Thursday's trade deadline. The 6-foot-7 wing is averaging 13.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 42.1 percent from the floor through 50 games played this season
After adding big man Xavier Tillman in a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston could use a wing to provide scoring off the bench. Bey's $4.6 million contract fits into the Grant Williams traded player exception.
With his strong performance vs. the Celtics, his price may have gotten slightly steeper.