The Celtics promised a ‘hit,’ but the Hawks hit back harder

Jamal Crawford beats the first-quarter buzzer and makes the Celtics even madder. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jamal Crawford beats the buzzer, making the Celtics even madder. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Celtic pride. Ever heard of it? Well,  it should have been on display Friday night. Turns out all we saw was Celtic age. And all we heard was the whoosh of a younger team flashing past the regal C’s and sweeping them out the door.

The Hawks have played the Celtics four times this season, beaten them four times. No, these aren’t the playoffs and nobody has been eliminated, but we cannot miss the importance of this achievement. Boston was the team that dismissed the Hawks in Game 7 in May 2008, the team that swept the Hawks 4-0 last season. It wasn’t so long ago that we were asking ourselves, “Are the Celtics in the Hawks’ heads?”

And now? Said Jamal Crawford, the architect of Friday’s victory: “Not this year.” Then he smiled and patted his questioner on the back. “Not this year.”

The Celtics spent the offseason getting older. The Hawks spent it getting better. Trading for Crawford didn’t make one one-thousandth of the noise that accompanied Shaq relocating to Cleveland or Vince to Orlando or Rasheed to Boston, but that heist of Rick Sund’s was the move of the summer.

Crawford entered this game averaging 17.7 points and 3.3 assists against the Celtics this season, prompting Boston center Kendrick Perkins to reveal in a pregame interview: “We put out a hit on him today.”

(Note to Perkins: This probably wasn’t the best week in NBA history to use such verbiage.)

Told as much before the game, Crawford’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, really?” he said. Then he went out and scored 18 points and made four assists — in the first half. He flipped home a 45-footer at the first-quarter horn to give the Hawks the lead. He hoisted a stepback jumper over Perkins, who knocked him to the floor but couldn’t induce a miss. He drove for the hoop that gave the Hawks a 14-point lead just before halftime.

Put out a hit? For Boston, this was closer to a no-hitter.

But that’s the thing about these C’s. They’re yesterday’s men. They talk better than they play, at least against the Hawks. They were better than the local team  in 2008 and 2009, but now it’s Twenty-Ten and time marches onward.

Before the game, Celtics announcer Mike Gorman asked Doc Rivers, the Boston coach: “Perception is that the team has struggled against the Hawks because they’re younger. Do you buy that?”

Said Rivers: “Well, they are.”

Younger and stronger. Younger and faster. Younger and deeper. Younger and better. If you’re the Hawks, the Celtics are now the team you’re hoping to see in Round 2 come May.

Said Al Horford: “We’re playing way better against them than we were. We know now we can definitely compete with anybody.”

It’s the Celtics who must be wondering if they can compete with the Hawks anymore. They invested no small amount of physical and psychic capital in this game — Perkins again: “We’re just trying not to get swept” — and they lost by nine points and threw the ball away 16 times and made a second-half run not because of talent but guile. (Translation: The C’s got the refs involved.)

Teams, the Hawks included, used to fear the Celtics. The Hawks tremble no longer. Before the game, a tape of Boston’s loss in Orlando on Thursday was playing, and the trash-talking Kevin Garnett was shown missing an alley-oop. Said one Hawk: “KG, you ain’t got it!”

Boston prides itself on its defense. Crawford cut it into paper dolls. He scored 28 points and made six assists and afterward he credited Perkins, sort of. “It fired me up when I heard about it.” Crawford said, speaking of the threatened “hit.”

And when Perkins slammed into him? “I just smiled. I figured the ‘hit’ was in the back of his mind, too.”

Once the Celtics were the impediment the Hawks couldn’t surmount. Now they’re just a team that’s 0-for-4 against Atlanta. Boston used to be the Beast of the East, the class of the league. But not this year. This year the Hawks are in the Celtics’ heads. Heh, heh.

105 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

January 29th, 2010
10:48 pm

mmgtfan

January 29th, 2010
10:48 pm

Bill

January 29th, 2010
10:52 pm

Kane337

January 29th, 2010
10:53 pm

Josh

January 29th, 2010
10:54 pm

Good article Mark. I love “homer” opinions occasionally. I’m proud of the hawks, but we need to take care of business against those pesky Orlando sorcerors or whatever they’re called.

todd grantham

January 29th, 2010
10:55 pm

Mark, did you see what pepe said about brook whitmire? LOL

Reid Adair

January 29th, 2010
10:58 pm

Another outstanding performance by the Hawks against the Celtics. Despite Boston’s claim of having a “hit” on Jamal Crawford, he was outstanding – again. Joe Johnson came through big time in the fourth quarter when the Hawks needed it.

Josh

January 29th, 2010
11:01 pm

If Trey Thompkins stays all four years at Georgia and develops proper face-up technique and ball skills I think he would be a great fit at the 4 for the “Celtic Sweeping” Hawks. Smith needs to be at the 3 and Marvin isn’t showing the ability he unveiled last year.

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:01 pm

I try not to be a homer, Josh. But the Celtics aren’t a very humble bunch. (Doc Rivers is the exception. He’s a prince.)

marco11222

January 29th, 2010
11:03 pm

It’s been 15 yrs. since Atlanta’s last championship. Maybe this is our year!

tekcaj welloy

January 29th, 2010
11:03 pm

who cares about the hawks….where are the braves at????

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:04 pm

Why in the world would you want Josh Smith at small forward? So he can take more jumpers?

Reid Adair

January 29th, 2010
11:05 pm

Mark, you should have asked Kendrick Perkins how he thought the “hit” on Jamal Crawford worked.

Jamal is the True Truth

January 29th, 2010
11:05 pm

Now if the Hawks can only beat the Magic… hopefully, we’ll get one against the Magic. But if the Hawks don’t, the seeding is going to look mighty strange with the Hawks 4-0 against the Celtics and the Magic 4-0 against the Hawks. Better hope the Hawks can get the 2 seed!

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:06 pm

Mark, hawks are playin good, but the NBA season is to long….it should be playoff time….these games are pointless….just dragging on the inevitable

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:07 pm

Like a charm, I’m guessing he’d have said. But I didn’t get over to the Celtics’ locker room afterward, I’m afraid.

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:08 pm

with this article it sounds like………….Mark is ready to give Woodson his own bronze statue outside of Phillips……

mmgtfan

January 29th, 2010
11:08 pm

Mark, on a scale of 1 to 10 how huge would it be if the hawks won in Orlando tomorrow night?

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:09 pm

Buffalo needs to donate Chan Gailey’s contract to Georgia Tech…..we need the money mark…..we’re about to redo Alexander Memorial…..you know that?????

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:10 pm

Probably a 6, Id say.

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:11 pm

Maybe a 7, on second thought. Or 7.5. Or an 8.

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:11 pm

Mark I just gave you a news break, Alexander Memorial will be demolished for a new arena by 2012 !!!!!

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:12 pm

Didn’t know that, EWB. You have this on good authority?

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:12 pm

Dan Radokovich is getting things going at tech…..the project will be $45 million for the new arena….I suspect Paul Hewitt will be gone by then

Josh

January 29th, 2010
11:13 pm

Mark, honestly I still cringe when he puts the ball on the floor, but I want him to be able to cut backdoor to the basket and flash to the elbow; things that the 4 does not do in Woodson’s offense which I can’t complain about right now because it seems to be working.

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:13 pm

well don’t give anyone my name….lol….but I got an inside tip about a month ago, and if you go to Tech’s webside…..Radakovich had his state of the athletic department video which he announced his intentions

south ga boy

January 29th, 2010
11:14 pm

Nice article Mark, as a longtime Hawks fan (my dad took me to see “sweet Lou” and “Pistol Pete” as a kid) there is something brewing with this team that the 80’s and late 90’s Hawks teams didn’t seem to have. This team is not so dependant on one star (i:e Dominique) to carry them night in and night out. One night it’s Jamal, next night it’s JJ, another night it’s Josh or Al, and another night it’s simply the bench as it was tonight. This team is deep, kinda like (dare I say it) the Detroit pistons that won a championship. We may still be one year away from that but who knows. I just know that it’s nice to know that if one of your stars is having an off night, it’s ok. There are several other ways to win the game with this team. The sky is the limit. What do you think of my analysis of where this team is, Mark. PS. Love the ” cut out dolls ” line

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:16 pm

I’m only giving you this inside information because your a good man…..anyways the word on the street is this project will be done by 2012, and it will cost $45 million to build a new gym, however they will use the old side of Alexander Memorial and some of its remains to build this new gym due to the fact that a whole brand new facility on new land would cost $100 million

News just for you Mark…….from a Tech junkie

You're All Gay

January 29th, 2010
11:16 pm

Hawks finally bring an NBA title to Atlanta?

‘Bout damn time.

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:16 pm

Thanks, EWB. I’m obliged.

Josh

January 29th, 2010
11:17 pm

Also, since the Hawks (hopefully) will be drafting 30th, Lawal will not be around for us this year. He is definitely more polished than Thompkins inside but lacks the “Trey” range.

empty whiskey bottle

January 29th, 2010
11:17 pm

<—–formally known as "Opinion"

Mark Bradley

January 29th, 2010
11:17 pm

And, on that note, I’m headed home. Anybody want anything from Taco Bell? (Orders from the Bradley daughters include a Mango Fruitista, a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, two soft tacos and a Pepsi.)

Jamal is the True Truth

January 29th, 2010
11:18 pm

Mark, what do you think about the possibility that JJ leaves the team after the season? And do you think the Hawks, if that happens, stand a chance of signing Bosh?

Opinion

January 29th, 2010
11:19 pm

Radokovich had a great 33 min speech a couple of days ago about the state of GT athletics, you might want to view it………..ramblinwreck.com

it will tell you all the new projects going on at Tech in the next 5 years, new basketball arena, new indoor football building, and new indoor tennis courts, also new golf practice facility

Opinion

January 29th, 2010
11:19 pm

I like the chicken burritos, and a couple of pinto and cheese

Josh

January 29th, 2010
11:23 pm

Jamal is the True Truth, while I hope we can re-sign Johnson, I’m not sure it would be best for us to keep him for anything other than sentimental or leadership reasons. Also, I don’t see how Bosh fits into our offense. He’s a fantastic player, but we need someone to take the pressure off of Al so he can move to the 4. Then again, I probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

Brad in Jasper

January 29th, 2010
11:26 pm

As a Hawks fan for a long time, it is truly strange to feel in my gut the Hawks are about to do something to finish off a team like Boston, instead of find a way to lose at the end. Now if we can deal with those pesky Magicians.

Pepe

January 29th, 2010
11:26 pm

Mark – Do we (Hawk fans) really want Mike Woodson, with an expiring contract, coaching the All-Star game? We don’t need additional bidders for his services at the end of the season. Nah…what am I talking about? I hope he gets it…

Brad in Jasper

January 29th, 2010
11:27 pm

Still like to see how we fare in the Spring 7 games against CLE or ORL. The true test.

Opinion

January 29th, 2010
11:29 pm

hawks are good, but can we get by cleveland or orlando

James Adams

January 29th, 2010
11:32 pm

For someone who cried (at the age of 11) after the Games 6 and 7, these games mean a lot to me. I never tire of beating this team. I still get more fired up for this team than any other. Mark, you kind of feel like Virgil to my Daunte. Being a Hawks fan can be Hell sometimes. Im loving this, right now, though. I’ve been readin you since I was in High School. I hope this keeps up.

scottbravesfan

January 29th, 2010
11:43 pm

F Boston!!!!!

show me state

January 29th, 2010
11:45 pm

great season sweep against da celtics….i really like dis team…they are definitely a championship contender… and it seems like i’m da only one reppin’ da hawks up here in da show me state…..but it’s cool imma die hard hawks fan…regardless…..and i hope to see them on feb. 9 against da grizzlies….but in da meantime…..go hawks…..

My View

January 29th, 2010
11:46 pm

Mark. Im not trying to be a thorn, cause it aint my style, but did you give 4 answers to 1 questions. I always beat myself up, when I give two….. As far as the magnitude of tomorrow goes, I would give it a seven. High because they have dominated us worse than the C’s for the past two seasons, but low because we also have to get past the Lebrons. If we had won one of the back to back with the cavs then this game would loom larger. This would be a huge momentum builder to beat both however.

With that said, Im out of town and missed the game, but I appreciate the lit.

chem

January 29th, 2010
11:47 pm

don’t feed your girls taco bell, brad.

scottbravesfan

January 29th, 2010
11:47 pm

It never gets tiring beating any of the Boston sports teams. Their fans are the biggest A holes in the land.

Volman

January 29th, 2010
11:48 pm

Mark, I was screaming my head off all game long. Section 303 represented tonight! Loved the “Boston Sucks” chant. It was great “sweeping” those idiot fans out of the arena. And Perkins…he’s a punk with fake swagger that got carried to a title.

The Celtics have lost it.

Thanks for being a homer tonight, Mr. Bradley. Thanks.

My View

January 29th, 2010
11:48 pm

Mark. Im not trying to be a thorn, cause it aint my style, but did you give 4 answers to 1 questions. I always beat myself up, when I give two….. As far as the magnitude of tomorrow goes, I would give it a seven. High because they have dominated us worse than the C’s for the past two seasons, but low because we also have to get past the Lebrons. If we had won one of the back to back with the cavs then this game would loom larger. This would be a huge momentum builder to beat both however.

With that said, Im out of town and missed the game, but I appreciate the lit.

ATL-n-da House

January 29th, 2010
11:56 pm

You guys gotta see this!

Just read this on Boston Globe, it’s the beginning of their poor pitiful us column.

I also had a little fun at their expense commenting on the blog! Go check it out!

What a difference two years makes. The days when the Atlanta Hawks were just pack of young wolves biting at the heels of a veteran Celtics team on its way to an NBA championship seem like another lifetime.

Al Horford, their rookie of the year candidate two years, is now an all-star. Their young dunk-contest Their all-star scorer Joe Johnson is now a veteran who went from taking all the shots to simply making all the big ones.

But the biggest difference was easily Jamal Crawford, the hired gun who pumped big shot after big shot into the Celtics in last night’s 100-91 win. His 28-point performance seemed to single-handedly guarantee Atlanta’s fourth win of the season over the Celtics, completing the Hawks first season sweep of the Celtics since 1998-99 and it was the first four-game sweep since 1995-96.

The difference in the Celtics was simply time. Two more years of age, two more years of wear and team. With 40,000 minutes worth of hard miles on him, he wasn’t the same player that averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in the 2008 playoff series. He labored for 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting, fighting for six rebounds in his fourth game since returning from a hyperextended knee.

THOUGHT MY FELLOW HAWKS FANS WOULD ENJOY THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!