There really isn’t much to say. The Hawks ran the Celtics into the ground throughout the first three and a half quarters, but once they slowed the game down, Doc Rivers put Larry Drew in checkmate as Boston took over in the fourth quarter, winning 87-80. There’s a reason I mentioned that this is one of the biggest coaching mismatches in the playoffs, and it was on full display tonight, but more on that later.
The Hawks burst out of the gate with a few highlight plays. Smoove had a rim rattling dunk, Teague blocked a shot into the stands and then dunked over the entire Boston defense. He played brilliantly, and so did Smith for the most part before he sprained his left knee with 4 minutes to go in a two point game. Now, I’m not trying to make excuses, but when you lose your best player in what was sure to be a nail biter in the final 5 minutes of a game, then the your chances decrease significantly.
Regardless, the stagnant offense killed Atlanta in the fourth quarter. It was a few players dribbling around for 20 seconds before firing off a shot. Give Boston’s defense credit– they held serve– but there is no way on earth that the Hawks are that inept on the offensive end. Mental mistakes plagued us time and time again and it’s past the point where we wonder if we’ll ever shed the label of consistently inconsistent. We’ve embraced it.
Anyway, with Rondo out, this was a game the Hawks needed to win. It was huge. Going up 2-0 would have been monumental, meaning winning a game in Boston practically meant winning the series. Now, it’s win a game in Boston or practically lose the series.
Kudos to Paul Pierce for coming out with guns blazing and never letting up. He pushed the Celtics through and led their second half charge.
Player Grades: Each player is given a grade on an A+ through F scale based upon their game performance.
Joe Johnson: B
His last hero ball three pointer officially sured up the Boston win and he was forcing things all night, dribbling in circles like he was a dog chasing his own tail. He scored 22 points and kept the Hawks afloat for a little bit when Smith went down, but he was one of the culprits that caused a horrid offensive showing.
Josh Smith: B+
Smith just effects the game in so many ways. While he may have been a little bit all over the place at times offensively, he worked his tail off at the defensive end, rebounded like a man possessed once again, and frequently found open teammates. Aside from LeBron, how many 6’8″-plus players can run a break? Very few. Smith is one of them.
Jason Collins: F
Fouled out. Sucked. Moving on.
Kirk Hinrich: B+
Scored eight points and forced some shots late, but his pesky defense prevented Boston from winning this by double digits. He made a lot of plays, whether the box score shows it or not. Still, I’d rather not see a Kirk Hinrich-Jason Collins pick and roll on crucial possessions, but I guess that’s up to the coach.
Jeff Teague: B+
He was a human highlight machine on Tuesday night, taking on the form of Dominique Wilkins as he soared through the air, passing three defenders to slam it home. He blocked Keyon Dooling’s three pointer clean into the stands and dazzled the crowd with a few floaters. He still has plenty of room for improvement, but Teague is seemingly getting better with every game.
Tracy McGrady: N/A
He played six minutes. Why on earth he played in the fourth quarter with the rest of the scrubs is beyond me, but this is what Hawks fans live with every game. Thanks, Larry Drew.
Willie Green: F
Matador defense, no offensive production, minimal impact. Nothing else to it.
Jannero Pargo: N/A
Hey! I forgot he played.
Marvin Williams: F-
No, I didn’t know that score was possible either, but when you rely heavily on him for offensive bench production and he plays 20-plus minutes and scores only once off of a put back, he deserves this grade more than anyone I’ve ever seen. He was atrocious. Let’s be honest here, he couldn’t defend Paul Pierce on a given possession for his life, or much less, free grapefruits (if he liked grapefruits, imagine how tragic this would be). I could rant on this all day, but I have another low grade to give!
Ivan Johnson: D
He made some hustle plays and sank a huge and-1 to preserve my hopes of a victory, but other than that, he was nonexistent.
Larry Drew: All the Fs
What on earth was he doing with his rotations? Boston was in the midst of making the game-changing run and he had Hinrich, McGrady, Marvin Williams, and Collins out on the floor. How was that a good idea? It potentially cost Atlanta the game. Also, way to inspire offensive ball movement at the game’s most critical juncture, coach Drew.
SDS Plays of the Game:
Once the fourth quarter started. The Hawks didn’t score in the opening three minutes, and by the time the fourth was halfway through, Boston was ready to win the game. Atlanta’s offense could not have been more stagnant. Whether the issue was complacency or frustration remains to be seen. Regardless, it was a pathetic excuse for this art form we call offense.
Things tilted in Boston’s favor completely when Josh Smith sprained his knee with four minutes to go. The Celtics proceeded to score on a Paul Pierce dunk and a dagger three, killing the Hawks’ psyche.
SDS Player of the Game: Paul Pierce
Pierce put on a brilliant show to start the game, scoring Boston’s first nine points. He also hit a few huge shots down the stretch to kill Atlanta, including a three-pointer to put them up 79-72 with a little over three minutes remaining. He scored in just about every way possible and reminded people of why he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. He redeemed his miserable Game 1 performance rather well.
This is exactly what us Hawks fans feared. Once Joe Johnson promised there wouldn’t be a letdown, most people pencilled in a letdown. It’s the running joke on Daily Dime Live that you should Never Trust the Hawks, but it’s true. Our personnel is so erratic within their consistency that so many various outcomes can occur. I would have liked to think we would have beaten the Celtics without Rondo, but the Hawks and their godforsaken fans, including myself, aren’t so lucky.
This is why Coach Doc Rivers is the best in the business, though. He knows what he’s doing. Boston was able to move the ball effectively and efficiently in the fourth quarter. Atlanta, on the other hand, was able to move the ball into the hands of the Celtics rather efficiently, as Boston disrupted passing lanes and let Joe Johnson prance around with the ball for 23 seconds before thinking about his options.
I’m almost in full panic mode right now. There is a good chance our season is well on its way to being over, but there’s a good chance it’s not. If I’ve learned anything from this team, it’s too expect nothing– not even the unexpected. Just keep your mind blank, because in Game 3, the Hawks are either going to lose by 30 or win the game. It’s just the way they do things. If Smith is out for the series, we will lose, but if he’s back for Game 3 or even Game 4, then we’ll be in good shape. No one thought we were going to sweep this team– a loss was coming whether it was in Atlanta or in Boston. The sky isn’t falling, and it’s important that we all stay grounded and realize that we are still very much in this game. If the Hawks win one of their next two games, they are in the drivers seat to win the series. Fingers crossed, because no one knows what on earth this Atlanta team will do next.
Rondo might be back, Allen might be back, Pachulia won’t be back, and Smith might be out. Seems like one of those games that people have already selected. Those are the most dangerous kind. Especially with the Hawks. Who knows, Jannero Pargo is just as likely a hero as Joe Johnson at this point. Anything can happen. So again, expect nothing– not even the unexpected.
…. you can, however, expect for the subbing rotations to be completely awful. Larry Drew has assured the world of his commitment to stymieing his own team’s momentum.