|Celtics put 14-game winning streak on the line vs. Hawks|
ATLANTA -- The Boston Celtics, fresh from an impressive win over the reigning NBA champions, will put their 14-game winning streak on the line when they travel to play an Atlanta Hawks team fresh off a record victory.
The game, the second of four regular-season matches between the two Eastern Conference foes, will be Saturday at Philips Arena.
The Celtics (14-2) defeated Golden State 92-88 on Thursday to end the Warriors' seven-game winning streak. Atlanta (3-12) is coming off a 126-80 victory over the Sacramento Kings, the largest margin of victory in franchise history.
Boston's victory was an emotional one for Jaylen Brown, whose childhood best friend died suddenly on Wednesday. Brown responded by scoring 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds and was rewarded with a game ball from guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving started two games with a protective mask since suffering a fracture of his face but removed the restrictive mask in the second quarter and went on to score 16 points, 11 in the fourth quarter. He made two free throws to tie the game and two more to put the Celtics ahead to stay.
"I asked our trainer if he can officially play without (mask) and the response was, 'Yes, but it's not recommended,'" Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
Atlanta is in the throes of a major rebuilding effort, but found the magic on Wednesday against the woeful Kings.
The Hawks made 50 field goals for the first time since March 9, 2015. They shot 63 percent, recorded 40 assists and were plus-24 in rebounding, which hasn't happened in the NBA since 1983. The 40 assists were the most in the NBA this season and the most since Golden State had 41 against the New York Knicks on Dec. 15, 2016.
"Right now we have (one of) the worst record in the NBA, so any win is a good win and we'll take it," Atlanta forward Taurean Prince said.
Atlanta center Dewayne Dedmon became the first NBA player with 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals in less than 24 minutes since they started keeping records in 1983. Dedmon is averaging 14.3 points over the last seven games and reached double figures in six of those.
"It's a great feeling," Dedmon said. "We have to take this momentum, feed off it and get ready for the next game."
Atlanta forward Luke Babbitt left the game in the first half with lower back spasms and did not return. Coach Mike Budenholzer said Babbitt's back was "just tight" and didn't believe the issue to be serious. Babbitt, signed as a free agent to boost the team's 3-point effectiveness, started six games.
Boston beat Atlanta 110-107 on Nov. 6. Irving scored 35 and former Hawk Al Horford had 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The final two games in the series will be played in Boston, Feb. 4 and April 8.