“Dejounte Murray was great tonight,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzula told reporters via CLNS Media Boston Sports Network. “I don’t know how many of those you can limit because he also has the ability to play off the bounce.”
Murray tied Celtics star Jayson Tatum with a game-high 29 points adding six assists, six rebounds, and four steals. More to Mazzula’s point, he also knocked down 7-of-13 triples, his second most of the season. He did much of his damage bringing the Hawks back to within 10 points, scoring 13 of his 18 second-half points in the third quarter.
He spoke after the game of finding that balance.
“Stay aggressive but in the right way,” Murray said via the Hawks’ YouTube channel. “And that’s not always for yourself. Trying to make sure my teammates is involved so that playing together saying. Trying to stay aggressive but it’s not always for you.”
Mazzula added the Celtics could do a better job of slowing down Bogdan Bogdanovic who tallied canned 4-of-7 triples scoring 18 points adding four assists, two rebounds, and two steals.
“I saw how they were guarding me first game,” Bogdanovic said. “I was watching the tape and where I can find the gaps. They were switching and they were high up [on] the screens and…they were not helping off of me so I had to move a little bit more, had to find that rhythm. And, nothing, onto the next game.”
Murray was also asked about an exchange with the Celtics bench after making one of his triples. He did not go into much detail about the interaction but did note that he is familiar with several members of the organization.
“Nothing there,” he said. “Nothing there. Just competing. I know a bunch of guys over there, and that’s it, that’s all. Nothing big.”
Among those connections is Celtics Game 2 hero Derrick White who poured in 26 points off the bench. He and Murray spent four seasons together as teammates on the Spurs. White was one of the players Boston found tremendous success with getting into the painted area. He also had seven rebounds and two blocks.
Mazzula expounded a little bit more on just what was said.
“He was just talking to me. He just asked how my day was going. He’s a great kid. He’s a great guy. I’ve gotten to know him through a lot of the people in the Spurs organization. And he’s put on a helluva show.”
Despite that show – 26.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, 3.5 SPG – the Hawks find themselves down 2-0, a very ominous landmark in the postseason.
Of the 442 teams that have gone down in the modern playoff format of 2-2-1-1-1, just 32 of them (7.2%) have ever gone on to win that series, per Land Of Basketball. It can get worse, however, as no team has ever come back from a 3-0 hole (0-147).
They got several valiant efforts, getting off to a better start than in Game 1 to build an 11-point lead. But a 64-40 deficit in paint points was a big culprit as the Hawks allowed a veritable parade to the rim.
Boston was 34-for-49 in the paint including 23-of-31 in the restricted area.
Trae Young vows to be better as Atlanta Hawks return home for Game 3
Hawks star Trae Young notched 24 points with three rebounds and two steals but his six assists were nearly negated by five turnovers as he also continued to struggle with efficiency shooting 40.9% from the floor and connecting on 2-of-8 threes. He shot 28.6% from the floor and went 0-for-3 from deep in the fourth quarter. He also got to the line five times, sinking four of them to bolster his team-high eight points with two assists, one rebound, and one steal.
“I can be better,” admitted Young. “I didn’t shoot the ball really well, I didn’t. Had some turnovers while I was just driving [to the rim], it left my hands. But I’m gonna be better at home.”
The Hawks are certainly going to need him to be better than he has been. Through two games, Young is averaging 20.0 points, 7.0 assists (to 5.0 turnovers), 3.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals while shooting 35% from the floor and 23.1% from beyond the arc.
Atlanta is just 1-9 in their last 10 playoff games with him on the floor (1-1 in their last two games without him).
Friday’s Game 3 comes with monumental implications.