Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 97, Celtics 92

Here is my updated game story, with quotes, from the Hawks’ win over the Celtics Friday night.

The Hawks defeated the Celtics — who were missing three-quarters of their offense — Friday night. And they got all they could handle in the process.

Beyond that, there was little to gauge in an often-ugly 97-92 victory at Philips Arena.

The Hawks took a 1 1/2-game lead over the Celtics in the race for home-court advantage in their likely Nos. 4 vs. 5 playoff matchup. But you can forget this Hawks-Celtics game being a first-round playoff series preview. The Celtics team that took the court Friday resembled nothing of the one that will play in the postseason.

Boston was without Kevin Garnett (rest), Paul Pierce (rest), Ray Allen (ankle), Rajon Rondo (back) and Mickael Pietrus (knee). They are five (three starters and two key reserves) of the team’s top seven scorers in points per game, averaging a combined 68.8 points of the team’s 92.1 points (75 percent).

Willie Green scored eight consecutive fourth-quarter points, including two 3-pointers, to give the Hawks a five-point cushion, 85-80. They needed every point.

The Celtics closed the gap to one point before Joe Johnson scored four points and had a steal with less than 45 seconds remaining. A basket by Josh Smith gave the Hawks a six-point lead with 32.3 seconds left. Jannero Pargo and Vladimir Radmanovic made free throws to seal the victory.

“It was very sloppy on our half,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “As I told the players, I understand the psychological and mental side of a game like that where a team doesn’t have its top six, seven players. You come out and have to get yourself jacked up and motivated to play. I’ve been around this league to see that situation. Either you handle it or you don’t. We didn’t handle that side.”

The Hawks (38-25) won their third consecutive game and seventh of their past nine. They have three home games remaining in the regular season before starting the postseason April 28 or 29. They won the final game of the season series with the Celtics after losing the first two games by a combined five points.

The Celtics (37-27) lost for only the 10th time since the All-Star break (22-10). With two home games remaining in their regular season, coach Doc Rivers chose to get his team healthy and rested for the postseason even if it cost them home-court advantage in the first round.

“Obviously we would love to get home-court [advantage], but we also want to be healthy and we want to be fresh,” Rivers said.

Johnson led the Hawks with a game-high 30 points. Smith added 19 points and 12 rebounds. Jason Collins (season-high), Kirk Hinrich and Green all added eight points.

Avery Bradley, one of two regulars for the Celtics, gave the Hawks fits. He scored a career-high 28 points.

“It’s tough to prepare for games like this,” Green said. “You kind of get amped up expecting their starters to be playing and then they are not. Give the Celtics a lot of credit. They played extremely hard no matter who they put in the game.”

The Celtics erased a 12-point deficit by outscoring the Hawks 23-16 in the third quarter. They tied the game, 72-all, on E’Twaun Moore’s 3-pointer. Smith answered with a basket to give the Hawks a 74-72 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Hawks, who led by as many as 12 points in the first half, took a 58-49 lead into intermission. Johnson had 23 points at the break, including 11 of the Hawks’ final 13 points.

The Celtics’ last lead was 7-6 before the Hawks went on a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take control. Throughout the first half they could never put the reserve-laded Celtics away in some play that was sloppy at times. The Celtics finished the first half shooting over 60 percent, a fact not lost on Drew.

“As I told our guys at halftime, we didn’t respond very well,” Drew said. “As far as I’m concerned, Boston, whether they won the game or not, accomplished what they wanted, to have their reserves come out and compete at a high level and take us down to the wire.

“I’m proud that they fought their way through it and got the win.”

The Hawks had 19 turnovers leading to 25 Celtics points.

210 comments Add your comment

High-sider

April 20th, 2012
10:20 pm

High-sider

April 20th, 2012
10:20 pm

High-sider

April 20th, 2012
10:21 pm

High-sider

April 20th, 2012
10:21 pm

High-sider

April 20th, 2012
10:22 pm

Hawks beat [Maine] Red Claws; I’m not impressed.

Rufus1

April 20th, 2012
10:27 pm

LOOOOOOW self esteem fans……

Doc Rivers is hoping the Hawks players think like some of you “FANS”…

The Hawks sometimes play down to their competition, so why are surprised.

Doc is resting his team for the Hawks, because he in NERVOUS…..He watched the previous 2 games and knows this will be a WAR…..This is just a MENTAL TRICK he is trying to play and some of you got pulled in..

If Zaza is healthy the Hawks will win the WAR OF ATTRITION in 7 games

doc

April 20th, 2012
10:31 pm

sloppy play after first 10 minutes.

color green is very effective against this team. i think some of us could dress in green and play ‘em close.

anyone know wtf was wrong with teague. 0 points until late in the game and he gets killed by dooling? he was awful.

still dont know about this tmac love. he is about as cumbersome as twin and shows a lot of nonchalance when he is not in the play. nothing about his play tonight was inspiring and he was given a chance for play time and didnt deliver squat. any tmac lovers put there got an excuse for him? 5 frigging to’s in 14 minutes and guys talk about him as a back up point guard. i call it tmac delirium with the only cure is for him to not be back next year.

Rod from College Park

April 20th, 2012
10:46 pm

“Doc Rivers is hoping the Hawks players think like some of you “FANS”…”

Doc Rivers and the Celtics are laughing at the Hawks. Probably can’t stop laughing at how they almost beat us with scrubs.

Dawg

April 20th, 2012
10:47 pm

The ESPN announcers had to be the most boring of all time. They sounded like they would fit better with a garden club. They spoke about Boston constantly without regard to who the Celtics play.

If we play Boston in the playoffs, we will get the benefit of no calls. Doc Rivers and the whole team discuss and complain to the refs on every call.

aytunstopable

April 20th, 2012
10:48 pm

i wanted a blow out. i want to be doom and gloom but got damn it a win is a win so i’m happy. Now on to the knicks.

Big Daddy

April 20th, 2012
10:49 pm

What we saw tonight was what a well coached team looks like. With their 3 HOF players and top rated point guard out, the Celtics gave the Hawks all they could handle. They should have beat them like they did Detroit. Credit their effort to Doc Rivers and the pride the reserves showed.

Credit JJ and Smoove for keeping our guys ahead and being the primary reason why the Hawks turned the Celtics back every time they got within a point. LD just could not get the guys to pull away or overpowered the well disciplined defense they guys in green played. All of them should take note. This is what they will face come playoff time. This game reminds me of the way they played Miami with Wade and Lebron out. Hopefully, this is the wakeup call for the coaches to come up with a defensive plan that will help our guys keep up with the type of teams they are going to see come next week.

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
10:54 pm

Celts are not worried at all unfortunately……

Tonight just cemented that thought…. Ugly!

Agent Zero 2.0 owned JT? Coached seem to agree and bench his azz…..

SteveW

April 20th, 2012
10:56 pm

That was brutal and ugly.

And yes JT took the night off. Glad Joe didn’t.

SteveW

April 20th, 2012
10:59 pm

In response to an earlier post – just remember that Sund tried to trade Josh for a lottery pick last season it was widely reported. Then denied. Standard operating procedure for ASG.

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:00 pm

Just take ISO out of the equation and the Hawks are in big trouble.. YOu think these coaches dont know that already? Peitrus will be well rested and game to harass ISO on the perimeter.. Wheres JC1 to bail him out? Yep….Know it all…..Sad…Just sad…..

SteveW

April 20th, 2012
11:04 pm

The Knicks lost to the Cavs somehow tonite. Maybe lot’s of teams are starting to take nites off in preparation for the playoffs.

I want homecourt for the playoffs. But a healthy rested team may be better. Tough call on resting the guys the remainder of the season.

Knicks now have very little to play for after tonite’s loss. 7th or 8th seed, it really doesn’t matter for them. So maybe they tank Sunday.

The Clips are battling the Griz and Lakers for Homecourt, so they may be in battle mode.

Maybe the Mavs rest their crew.

Houson – 6 straight losses to fall out of the playoffs right now. Wow.

The Bucks – 3 straight losses – choke.

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:05 pm

BTW Biggie smalls no one expects the Knicks to elimate Miami! What will be the Hawks excuse..This time…

12-20 45

SteveW

April 20th, 2012
11:12 pm

Doc will be trying to get JJ out of rhythm no doubt about it.

Steinsma, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Bradley, Rondo, Bass, and Pietrus are a formidable 8 man rotation. Give Dooling and some others spot minutes, and if you win the series, you would have earned it, homecourt or not.

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:12 pm

Well at least the Knicks and Hawks have something in common:

Both of their Allstar bigs play horrible defense…..

SteveW

April 20th, 2012
11:18 pm

Slim – While I may not expect the Knicks to beat either Chicago or Miami, depending on who they play, it would not surprise me to see them win. Any team with Carmelo, Amare, Tyson, and some good pieces around them is a threat, I don’t care what their regular season record is or their seeding.

I can actually see the Knicks winning the East, but not the Finals.

Orlando would surprise me. Philly would surprise me. Indy would surprise me. ATL would be a pleasant surprise. The Heat, Bulls, Celts, and Knicks would not surprise me.

Indy is balanced and loaded. Been healthy all season really. There’s just something about them that keeps me from committing to them. But that Barbarosa deal was a steal. May push them farther than I think.

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:18 pm

ISO had 14 points in their preivous contest ..Why, becasue he was being draped, trapped, and harassed on the perimeter..He could not get quality open looks and being a half a step slower this season just adds more dificulty to getting a good look off the dribble…Expect similar results unless Larry can run him off screens or pick and pop but that will wear him down on defense..His defense will suffer has the game drags on….

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:18 pm

*previous^^^

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:20 pm

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:23 pm

SteveW, they would need Lin to win the East.. But he will not be ready for another 3 weeks…

Rufus1

April 20th, 2012
11:24 pm

The Hawks aren’t going to lose to the Celtics…..

You guys find problems in win and loses……I don’t understand…..

I think some of you want the Hawks to lose, but pretend like you are being a “REALIST”….

Doc is playing mind games because he is SCARED….

Paul is averaging 13pts a game against the Hawks, because Joe and Marvin can guard him…..Rondo can’t shoot… and we are younger…We will win the series!

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:26 pm

SteveW, Biggie smalls was not meant for you it was meant for the know it all on these blogs that wont leave me alone.. Like a little puppy dog….

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:27 pm

12-20 is real as it gets……

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:30 pm

Paul and ISO cancel each other, does ZaZa and Ivan cancel KG?

Doc= Jedi knight!

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:33 pm

Yea Rod they beat da Scrubs tonight! Whoopie do!

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:34 pm

SA is detroying the Lakers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Statement? This is a finals team this year? Looking like it!

Rufus1

April 20th, 2012
11:37 pm

38-25… 3 trips to the 2nd of the playoffs, battled tested playoff team…… Is more real than some regular season record, when 90% of the league probably has a similar record.

That is real!

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:40 pm

2-12 (.143%) second round…Yep..

Slimjr

April 20th, 2012
11:41 pm

Thats why the National media shows no love for these Hawks…

2-12 on NATIONAL TV…..

Rufus1

April 20th, 2012
11:47 pm

say it again…. The 2nd round….Stop trying to diminish that.

Ken Strickland

April 21st, 2012
12:49 am

Even with this brutal schedule, and all of the injuries we’ve suffered, this team still managed to win more gms and finish with a higher seed than most of you expected, even without the injuries. And even though the Hawks have exceeded just about everyones expectations, these blogs are still dominated by endless negative posts.

There seems to be no end to the bitching, bashing, and excuse making, whether we win or lose. We really have some sick fans. That’s why I don’t post that often anymore.

Grandad

April 21st, 2012
1:03 am

Ken S

I hope I`m not one of the sickos;
-but-
Doc was coaching his ass off with 8 sec left
and virtually no chance to win.

While LD was horsing around in the huddle with Ivan.

Therein lies the difference.

Even after the game;
Doc was on the floor with one of his young players *’`teaching`’*
____________________________________________

I would love to see the ass-clowns who own this franchise
do one thing right.
Hire Doc as GM / Coach and give him Total Control !

clutch

April 21st, 2012
1:25 am

like rufus1 said you all find fault with everything, wins and losses. Everygame is not going to be a blowout, a win is a win in the end.

Waffle House or Bust

April 21st, 2012
1:31 am

Hawks get put out first round. Bet!

Buddy Grizzard

April 21st, 2012
2:49 am

Since Doc Rivers folded the tent and ceded home court advantage, I can’t imagine the Celtics will put up much of a fight against Miami on Tuesday. If the Celtics lose that game, the Hawks would have clinched home court advantage with a win against the Knicks. Unfortunately the Celtics-Miami game starts after the Hawks-Clippers game on Tuesday, so the Hawks will potentially only be able to rest the starters for the final game of the season against Dallas.

vava74

April 21st, 2012
3:27 am

Resting players before the playoffs is a two blades sword.

See the Packers this year.

Plenty of other examples.

Resting takes the edge off the mind and the body.

The Hawks have proven that resting is extremely counterproductive for them.

I say play them at least 20 minutes of every game until the playoffs.

Win as many games as possible.

The Hawks played in cruise control tonight. Got the points when they needed and the win.

This was no different than other sloppy wins against sub-par teams.

A win is a win. Take it and move on.

Now take another against the Knicks.

Buddy Grizzard

April 21st, 2012
4:34 am

Agree Vava… Knicks will be competitive. There is the personal issues between the coaches and the fact that Woody is trying to get a permanent job.

E43

April 21st, 2012
5:10 am

Hawks make a 3 and what happens on defense right after? A pretty clear and vibrant let’s go celtics chant. Fans expecting to support 1 Paul pierce on the road were louder than hawks fans no excuses. People like to jab at the hawks without looking at the mirror.

This team gets disheartened playing at home because of all the southern hospitality hawks fans have giving their tickets away. How is it no one even acknowledges that the hawks are above 500 on the road for the first time since… And what’s with all the green jerseys along with our season ticket holders? People like to Complain about LD but reality is that LD never really has gotten his guys. His biggest acquisition as coach was Kirk hinrich and some veterans minimum guys. 15 roster spots and th lone LD guy is Ivan. I would’ve taken my chances with keith benson if dampier was my only hope. If they had more rookies I’m sure LD can work with them. People need to stop acting like this team was hot wired for LDs offense. The only thing LD has done wrong is not starting zaza pachulia. Otherwise this team will always hit a wall because of teagues passiveness and Josh Smith trying to soak up every stat possible instead of playing the right way.

Also, Jamal crawfords name needs to evaporate from our blogs. Jamal makes Jamal’s stats better. This team is better than last years just because they play properly with pargo and green in the backcourt. I’ll take green, his salary and effort over Jamal Crawford any day. Jamal is just not worth it and his journeyman lifestyle speaks for itself. Stop using him as another weak excuse to complain about the hawks.

ejh

April 21st, 2012
5:14 am

The Playoff series between the Hawks and Celtics started tonight. The mental and psychological aspects of the series started with Doc’s quote “resting his starters”. Well this move is either going to backfire on Doc or Propel his team to a 1st round series win. I for one thing this move will backfire. He just totally disrespected the hawks as a playoff contender as to say we do not need homecourt advantage to beat you. Well if the hawks take this disrespect and use it as motivation they win this series in 6 games. The hawks are a veteran team, these are not young guys who are scared of you as in the 2008 playoffs, they have battled tested vetrans. To me I think Doc realize now in hind sight he may have made the first coaching blunder of this series.

ejh

April 21st, 2012
5:20 am

Also Look for Pargo, Green, Tmac, and Vlad, to show up big in these playoffs. I stated at the beginning of the season, these guys were signed so the hawks can go deep in the playoffs. If anyone noticed, when pargo came in the game in the later part of the third and fourth quarters you noticed avery bradley only scored 4 points the rest of the fourth quarter that is because a veteran guard decided to show the young kid what he is going to get a taste of in the playoffs.

joe

April 21st, 2012
6:10 am

Look for Marvin to be a big difference maker in the playoffs, using his strength, toughness and asserting himself offensively….. JUST KIDDING

Marcus

April 21st, 2012
7:02 am

Come back soon, Zaza.

Lineup matchup and quickness issues will abound when we see Rondo and Av. Bradley on the floor at the same time. Ja. Collins vs. KG = nightmare (mid-range jumpers all day).

Our vets off the bench at the 1-4 spots will have to do some work. It can be done, but dang I wish we were in the 3-spot vs. a depleted and soon-to-be demoralized ORL squad.

Admiral Snackbar

April 21st, 2012
7:45 am

the way Josh was playing I thought he had bet on the Celts.

Rufus1

April 21st, 2012
7:46 am

In the 2 real games we played….

The Hawks lose by a total of 5pts and one was in overtime……They(Celtics) scored 79pts in one game, 88pts in the 2nd game and that was OVERTIME……. Doc isn’t LAUGHING at anything!!!!

All you “REALIST” talk about how hard it is for the Hawks to score, but the Celtics have no match up advantage…

Doc’s real strategy— Trying to help the Hawks catch the Pacers, so they(Pacers) can be the 5th seed…. Boston actually BLEW them(Pacers) out.

The NBA is about match ups and talent…..We are a worse match up for the Celtics….THAT IS REAL!!

Back n d day

April 21st, 2012
8:11 am

I guess stories have a way of playing themselves out. Al horford’s serious injury was the best thing that could happen for the hawks.

Zaza has regained his started role and make it logical to trade Horford. Zaza’s numbers are about the same as Al’s. The difference between the 2 is Z is a center who likes playing the position and will fight to protect the hawks interests under the rim. While Zaza doesn’t have the physical talent Al had prior to his injury,(there’s no assurance Al will be the same Al). Its the heart’s willingness that separates Zaza from Al. In fact that’s the same thing that separates Ivan Johnson from Al.

HEART!

Since Al is no longer a part of the team, unity has flourished. Those locker room fights have ceased. The team is focused on whats best. The selfishness that Al brought to the table is now gone.

Josh is now at peace too. He doesnt have to worry about Al’s constant cry about wanting to play Josh’s position and in turned Josh has demonstrated why he is one of the top 3 or 4 powerforwards in the game. Al would about #’s 15-20 ranking in powerforward.

This is a much better team with out Al. I just wish we had pulled the trigger on the Al trade earlier, before his market value diminished.

Josh, JJ, and Zaza are our core. Marvin, Al and Teague are projects players and part of the outer core. Trading any or all of these players wont have a down side impact for the team. We can upgrade these guys to get quality help at the point… like say a Rondo, or an compliment/upgrade with Zaza.

JJ will be JJ for another 4 years and does a great job. Josh hasnt peak yet, but is a great impact and force. We can anchor around these 2 over the next 3 or 4 years, but its time to wheel and deal to get us out of the 2nd round, next year. I say next year because the out side of Josh and JJ, we dont have what it takes to get us out of the second round this year.

Go Hawks.

NATIVE SON

April 21st, 2012
8:53 am

The Celts are anticipating playing the Hawks; therefore they are resting the “Ol Coots” with the possibility of negating an up-tempo game by the Hawks. Drew should do the same with his starters, while letting the bench get more confidence. That was a brilliant move for Rivers to let his subs go after the Hawks and bolster their confidence. It could pay off big in the playoffs, as the Hawks struggled a bit, after they let the subs back into the game. One must note however, that save Josh; no starters were on the floor for the Hawks.

PEACE: MOST NATIVE