USA Today Sports

Celtics finally were able to take care of business

Josue Pavon
November 24, 2018 - 6:42 am

When the Celtics blew out the Sixers on Opening Night at TD Garden, it gave them a false sense of identity. 

Beating a team like the Sixers -- one that's projected to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference -- meant the Celtics would cruise by the league's bottom-feeders. Boston quickly earned themselves a reality check. 

The Celtics quickly found out what it means to be a championship contender. Teams were giving them their best effort and it forced the Celtics to find a new level of effort to stay afloat, instead of having to crawl out of a deep deficit and make comebacks.

After teams like the Magic, Hornets and Knicks each handed the Celtics losses, Boston finally put together a lopsided win and did it against the second-worst team in the East. Boston tacked on 45 first-quarter points in Atlanta on Friday, setting the tone early and ultimately topped the Hawks, 114-96. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Six Celtics players scored in double figures, Aron Baynes' 16 points led the way. Jayson Tatum finished with 14 points and Kyrie Irving chipped in 13. 

It was a classic defense led to offense kind of win from Brad Stevens' group. They held Atlanta to 23 first-quarter points and didn't let up throughout the night. 

Boston coerced the Hawks to commit 20 turnovers. The Celtics led by 29 points -- their biggest lead of the game -- in the first half and never gave up a lead. 

This was the kind of win that the Celtics needed for themselves, snapping a three-game skid and it's the kind of victory that a championship contending team earns time and time again throughout the course of an 82-game season. Since their 18-point win over the Sixers, Friday's win now marks the Celtics' third blowout victory, in which they've beaten a team by 18 points or more. 

The Celtics will continue their three-game road trip in Dallas on Saturday when they take on rookie standout Luka Doncic and the Mavs.