Though it is a small sample size, the Celtics (37-15) improved to 1-3 when playing without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving after suffocating the New York Knicks in the second half of their 103-73 rout Wednesday night.
Irving, who averages 24.9 points and 5.0 assists, sat out with a quad contusion and is questionable for this contest, but understudy Terry Rozier more than picked up the slack by recording his first career triple-double. Rozier finished with 17 points and career highs of 11 rebounds and ten assists as Boston limited New York to eight fourth-quarter points and 28 overall in the final two periods.
The Celtics have won three of four since losing a season-high four straight and turned in their best defensive effort of the season in terms of points allowed as they held an opponent under 100 for the first time in six games.
Atlanta (15-36) were thwarted in their bid to win back-to-back games for just the third time this season, losing for the fourth time in five games following a 123-110 setback at home to Charlotte on Wednesday night. Kent Bazemore scored 25 points and Marco Belinelli added 22 off the bench as the duo combined to hit seven of 12 from 3-point range, but no one could stop Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, who went nine of 13 from long range and racked up 38 points.
This game kicks off a brief two-game road swing for the Hawks, who have a Sunday matinee game versus the Knicks. Atlanta are 4-20 on the road and have dropped 11 of their last 12 outside Philips Arena.