Hawks Pull Off Remarkable Comeback To Defeat Celtics

Vit Krejci, Hawks, NBA
Mar 25, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Vit Krejci (27) shows emotion during a timeout against the Boston Celtics in the second half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night’s matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics was going the same way many of the Celtics’ games have during the 2023-24 NBA season. Boston, who has the best record in the league, was dominating the struggling Hawks throughout the game.

Playing without All-Star point guard Trae Young, Atlanta is limping toward the NBA Play-In Tournament. They are currently the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, but that hold looked like it would get a little weaker on Monday.

With a few minutes remaining in the first half, an Al Horford 3-pointer put the Celtics up by 30, leading 68-38. Given the direction each team is heading, no one would have been surprised to see Atlanta rollover.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: De’Andre Hunter, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks Updates

Boston came into the game riding a nine-game winning streak and had been victorious in 20 out of their last 22 games. However, that wasn’t what happened at all. From that point in, something clicked for the Hawks, who started the biggest comeback the NBA has seen in years.

Atlanta ended up winning the game 120-118 in what turned into a back-and-forth affair in the fourth quarter. The Hawks took their first lead of the game with 9:42 remaining when Wesley Matthew splashed a 3-pointer to go ahead 97-96.

The punctuation for Atlanta came in the waning seconds. After Dejounte Murray missed a jump shot, Clint Capela grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to D’Andre Hunter. Hunter could have waited for a Celtics player to come and foul him to try and ice the game, but he instead launched a 3-pointer that swished home.

“If he passes it to me, I’m shooting,” Hunter told himself. “He got the rebound, he passed it to me, so I shot it.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: De’Andre Hunter, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks Updates

That shot helped the Hawks put the icing on their comeback, which was one of the most impressive in NBA history. 30 points is tied for the fourth largest comeback in league history and is the largest for Atlanta since at least the 1997-98 season when detailed play-by-play was tracked.

The last 30+ point comeback in the NBA occurred during the 2021-22 season when the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Washington Wizards after trailing by 35. Prior to the Hawks achieving it, teams that trailed by 30+ points in an NBA game over the last 25 years were 5-2,606. 

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