Hawks 80, Celtics 83
The Boston Celtics won their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night with an 83-80 victory in Game 6.
Many fans who were watching this contest will remember the fact that Al Horford missed a critical free throw that would have tied the game with 2.3 seconds left in regulation. Others will remember the fact that Kevin Garnett, who was as dominant as ever, drilled the go-ahead basket with 30.4 seconds remaining in the game.
But who will remember the fact that neither of the plays above would have happened if Ryan Hollins, who had played all of 250 career postseason minutes heading into Game 6, hadn’t made the biggest play of the game with 42.3 seconds remaining on the clock?
Doc Rivers sure will.
“I’ve got to say again, Ryan Hollins tonight was sensational,” Rivers said moments after the win. “That rebound was the biggest rebound in the game.”
The rebound Rivers alluded to arrived with 42.3 seconds left in the game when the Celtics trailed 79-78. Kevin Garnett had just missed a potential go-ahead jumper and it seemed as if Boston was going to need another critical defensive stop in order to have an opportunity to win this game. Then Hollins stepped in for the biggest rebound of his career.
Camped out in the paint against a rebounding machine like Horford, Hollins rose up to grab Garnett’s miss and immediately went back up to put home a basket. However, due to the noise of the TD Garden faithful, no one heard the fact that the whistle had blown and Hollins was fouled by Horford before the shot was attempted.
Rivers called for a timeout and replaced Hollins with Brandon Bass, but that didn’t matter. Hollins' work was already complete. He gave the Celtics another shot at a go-ahead basket, and the team capitalized on that opportunity.
Garnett banged home a 13-foot, turnaround jumper about 12 seconds later on a play that Rivers says wasn’t even run for him.
“The last play that Kevin scored on... [the Celtics] went to the last option,” Rivers confessed.
It doesn’t matter which option Garnett was. All that matters is that it worked. Garnett made the shot and the Celtics held on for the series-clinching win.
After everyone is done slaughtering Horford for choking and savoring Garnett for stepping up, be sure to give Hollins some love, too.
Key Box Score Line
Hear ye, hear ye! An announcement to all NBA players and owners: Do not criticize Kevin Garnett.
“First off, I want to say 'Thank you,' to their owner for giving me some extra gas tonight,” Garnett immediately exclaimed after the Boston Celtics discarded the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night.
Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. called Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league” on Wednesday. Garnett responded by dominating Gearon’s players in Game 6 as if they were high schoolers.
The Big Ticket delivered the goods tonight with a ridiculous state line of 28 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, three steals and five blocked shots. He's one of four players ever to deliver a box score like that in a playoff game. And he did it all while committing just one measly foul.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics outscored the Hawks in only one of the four quarters.
- Kevin Garnett, who logged game highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds, scored 10 more points than the next-highest scorer and grabbed five more rebounds than the next-highest rebounder.
- Garnett's five blocks were one more than the entire Hawks team logged.
- Rajon Rondo's double-digit assist streak ended at 28 games. He dished out eight assists in Game 6.
- Three technical fouls were called in the game and all of them went against Atlanta.
- Rondo committed a game-high five turnovers.
- Paul Pierce scored 18 points on just 11 shots.
- Boston outrebounded Atlanta 40-36, and none of the Hawks' players grabbed more than nine boards.
- Four of Atlanta's five starters scored between 15 and 18 points, led by Josh Smith's 18.
- Ray Allen led Boston's bench with seven points and five rebounds.
- Rondo (five) and Pierce (three) were the only Celtics players to commit more than one turnover.
- Boston's Big Three were the only Celtics to attempt a free throw in the game. They combined to shoot 19-of-24 from the stripe.
- The Celtics outscored the Hawks 42-30 in the paint.
- Al Horford, in just his third game back from injury, played a game-high 46 minutes and 26 seconds.
- Four of Atlanta's five starters were whistled for four fouls. None of Boston's players committed more than three.
Quote of the Night
Kevin Garnett's first comments of his postgame press conference, regarding Atlanta's co-owner Michael Gearon Jr.: "First off, I want to say, 'Thank you,' to their owner for giving me some extra gas tonight. My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth, actually know what he’s talking about, X’s and O’s versus checkbooks and bottom lines."