Celtics 86, Hawks 87
Tuesday night’s Game 6 was a game of runs, and the Atlanta Hawks made the final one that mattered.
Boston tied this one up at 83-83 when Ray Allen drilled a critical 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining in the game. Allen’s 3 capped a 7-0 run by the Celtics that completely flipped the momentum of the game. The Hawks, however, did not waver.
Atlanta immediately called for a timeout and returned to the court with confidence. The team was patient in its ensuing offensive set and that led to a big dunk by Al Horford in the final seconds of the shot clock. Interestingly enough, the big man who hadn’t played in nearly four months before his action in Game 4 delivered another big basket less than a minute later.
Kevin Garnett missed a jumper after Horford’s first basket and the Hawks took the ball back to the offensive end of the floor. They again showed patience and Horford wound up with the ball on the right baseline, about 10 feet from the basket. He chose to drive to the basket but was met by several Celtics. The strong defense forced Horford to toss up a running floater – not a shot that’s in his standard arsenal – and the shot fell through the net.
That bucket put Atlanta ahead 87-83 with 1:34 remaining in the game. The Celtics had an opportunity to win it on the final possession thanks to an incredible steal by Rajon Rondo on a Hawks inbound pass, but it was all for naught. Rondo turned it back over just seconds later while Horford harassed him along the sideline in the frontcourt.
Boston had an opportunity to complete a 5-0 run in the final minute of the game that would have sent them to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Instead, the Celtics came up short on the final possession and left Atlanta’s previous 4-0 run as the one that kept this series ticking.
Key Box Score Line
Someone very important returned to Atlanta’s lineup in Game 4. His name is Al Horford, and he really returned in Game 5.
After a productive yet rusty performance in his first game in nearly four months, no one knew what Horford would bring to the table moving forward in the series. Heck, even he himself said he wasn’t x sure if he’d play in Game 5. But oh, did he play in Game 5.
If you read the Key Moment highlighted above, you already know that Horford was a one-man wrecking crew in the final minutes of Atlanta’s Game 5 victory. He scored the final four points of the game for the Hawks – the game-clinching points. He also stayed in front of Rajon Rondo in a one-on-one situation with the game on the line for the game-clinching defensive play.
Those were the game-changing plays he made, but those certainly weren’t the only plays he made.
Horford logged a ridiculous 41 minutes of action Tuesday night and put up team highs of 19 points and three steals. He also contributed 11 boards, which were four more than any Celtics player grabbed, and three assists. Horford shot 8-of-15 from the field and finished with a plus-10 in the plus/minus category.
Atlanta’s starting center was sensational tonight in just his second game back from injury. The Celtics will need to figure out how to stop him if they plan on closing this series out back in Boston.
Box Score Nuggets
- Two Hawks players, Josh Smith (16 boards) and Al Horford (11 boards) grabbed at least 11 rebounds while not a single Celtics player grabbed more than seven.
- Horford scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
- Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who tied for the team-high in scoring with 16 points apiece, each made seven field goals.
- Rajon Rondo led the game in assists with 12 and played nearly 44 minutes.
- All five of Atlanta's starters played at least 35:29.
- Rondo committed a game-high five turnovers.
- Avery Bradley, who scored just two points, was the only starter in the game who didn't score in double-figures.
- Horford's three blocked shots matched the total of Boston's team.
- All five of Atlanta's starters scored between 13 and 19 points.
- Ray Allen scored 15 points off of the bench for the Celtics.
- Both teams shot better than 40 percent from downtown.
- Kevin Garnett, who finished with a plus-17 in the plus/minus category, was the only Boston starter to finish in the positive of that category.
- Atlanta, which had shot 38.5 percent over the first four games, shot 46.6 percent in Game 5.
- Both teams led by double-digits in the game and there were five ties and five lead changes.
- Atlanta scored 16 second-chance points.
Quote of the Night
Rajon Rondo on the final play of the game: "I tried to make a play but got caught on the baseline. Give Al (Horford) credit. I just didn’t come up with the shot."