Hawks 84, Celtics 90
It sure wasn’t easy, but the Boston Celtics took a 2-1 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks with a 90-84 victory Friday night in TD Garden.
The game went to overtime and the C’s needed several critical plays to go their way down the stretch in order to preserve the win. No play was larger than the one that resulted in two points with 28.1 seconds remaining in the extra session.
Doc Rivers had just called a timeout with 33.7 seconds left on the clock and had a few decisions to make during the break in action. He had to decide who would take the next shot, what play would be run to get that shot, and how quickly he’d want that shot to be taken once the ball was inbounded. Here’s how Rivers explained the decisions he made:
“That was a fake hand-off. Rondo drove – we were trying to get a quick two-for-one on that, with the thought as (since) we were up two (the) worst-case scenario (is) if we miss the shot, we defend, and they even make the shot, we would have enough time to win the game.”
Boston didn’t need more time to win the game because the play nearly worked to perfection. Rondo drove down the right side of the lane and threw one of his patented ball-fakes, sending his defender flying by him. He then spun back over his right shoulder, faced up to the basket and tossed a floater toward the hoop.
The key to this play is not the ball-fake, nor is it the open shot. What wound up being the deciding factor in the play was the fact that Jason Collins, who had been defending Kevin Garnett near the free-throw line, left KG in an attempt to alter or block Rondo’s shot. He may have succeeded in his goal, as Rondo missed the floater, but that doesn’t mean Atlanta enjoyed the result of the play.
Garnett streaked down the lane and leaped into the air to haul in Rondo’s miss and slam it home all in one motion. The bucket put Boston ahead by four points with 28.1 seconds left, giving the team complete control of the game. The lead grew to six points by the final buzzer and the Celtics took claim to a 2-1 series lead.
Key Box Score Line
Rajon Rondo returned to the lineup after a one-game suspension and picked the Hawks apart in every aspect of the game.
Rondo recorded his 20th career triple-double, the seventh of his postseason career, thanks to 17 points, a team-high 14 rebounds and game-high 12 assists. He also pitched in a game-high four steals.
It was a good thing he didn’t play in Tuesday night’s Game 2, because that rest afforded him the energy to play through a game-high 48 minutes and 40 seconds Friday night.
In standard Rondo fashion, he didn’t teeter on a triple-double. Instead, he logged a big one by greatly surpassing the number “10” in all three major categories.
Box Score Nuggets
- Rajon Rondo led the game in rebounds (14), assists (12) and steals (four), and also pitched in 17 points to notch his seventh career postseason triple-double.
- Four players committed at least four turnovers.
- Atlanta shot just 37.8 percent from the field.
- Joe Johnson attempted a game-high 28 shots but made only 11 of them.
- Boston outrebounded Atlanta by a count of 51-48.
- Ray Allen, playing in his first game since April 10, scored 13 points off the bench to go along with six boards.
- There were 15 ties and 16 lead changes in the game.
- Johnson scored a game-high 29 points.
- Kevin Garnett had a fantastic game with 20 points, 13 rebounds and a game-high four blocks.
- Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 21 points but he made just three field goals.
- Pierce shot a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.
- Tracy McGrady logged 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Atlanta.
- Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 11 rebounds.
- Of the four quarters in regulation, Boston outscored Atlanta in only one of them.
- Allen shot 6-of-8 from inside the 3-point arc.
- Atlanta outscored Boston in the paint by a count of 52-36.
Quote of the Night
Ray Allen on his return to the lineup: "Being back on the floor I felt alive. I felt like I was back in my own skin and it was a great feeling."