Everything You Need To Know About...Hawks vs Celtics | Apr. 12, 2008

Boston 99, Atlanta 89 | Apr. 12, 2008 | Philips Arena

The Basics
    Recap | Box Score |
    Post-Game Press Conference | Game Highlights | Quotes

  • Sam Cassell scored 15 of his 20 bench points in the fourth quarter as the Boston Celtics held off the Atlanta Hawks, 99-89 before a sellout crowd Saturday at Philips.
  • With a victory tonight, Atlanta could have clinched their first playoff berth in nine years after Indiana loss at home to Charlotte.
  • A 15-4 run (12 by Cassell) over the last 5:04 propelled the Celtics to their series sweep of the Hawks (3-0).
  • The Hawks, whose magic number is now one, are now 37-43 with two games remaining (vs. Charlotte, at Miami), while Indiana is 35-45, also with two left (at Washington, vs. New York).
  • All five starters tallied double figures with Joe Johnson leading the way with 21. Josh Smith and Al Horford each had 17, Mike Bibby finished with 16 and Marvin Williams scored 11.
  • Boston's Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 24.
  • The visitors jumped out to an eight-point lead (30-22) behind balanced scoring from the big three of Allen (9), Garnett (8) and Pierce (6), and 60% shooting from the field.
  • Johnson finished with 16 first half points, but he was the only Atlanta to reach double figures, as the Hawks trailed by 11, 55-44. Garnett led Boston with 18, Allen had 12 and Pierce finished with 10.
  • Next up for the Hawks -- the home season finale against Orlando (7 pm, 790 AM, FSN).

Photo Of The Night

Hawks GM Billy Knight and Katie Collier present the Jason Collier Award to Marvin Williams in a ceremony before the game

What You Really Need To Know
The Hawks fought hard, but couldn't muster enough offense in the 4th quarter to hold off the NBA's top team. Sam Cassell took over down the stretch for Boston, hitting shot after shot to down the home team. Wasted in the game were terrific performances by Al Horford and Josh Smith, who led the team back from an 11-point halftime deficit with double-digit scoring efforts in the third to help the team take the lead. Even with the loss, the Hawks magic number dropped to one as the Pacers lost at home to the Bobcats.

Fantasy MVP: Al Horford
The Hawks Rookie of the Year candidate was a beast tonight, putting up yet another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Horford kept the Hawks in the game in the third period with several big baskets and key offensive rebounds, proving once again how valuable he is to the team and why he deserves to take home some hardware once the season ends.

Momentum Changer
The Hawks took an 84-78 lead on a Mike Bibby 3-pointer with 8:23 to play, but the Celtics put the clamps on after that, outscoring Atlanta 21-5 the rest of the way out. Sam Cassell showed the form that made him a hot target once the Clippers released him back in March, scoring 13 points over that stretch to key the Celtics comeback.

What Went Right

  • The Hawks never looked intimidated by the Celtics, matching them basket for basket for most of the game despite falling behind repeatedly. They matched the intensity of Garnett and Co., and that bodes well for the first-round matchup that is almost inevitable at this point.
  • Josh Smith and Al Horford both showed excellent form in matching up with the Celtics frontline. Boston is going to be a handful come the postseason, but both gave the C's something to think about when the ball tips off for the first round.
  • Joe Johnson didn't have his best night shooting overall, but with the Celtics playing extremely efficient basketball in the first quarter, it was JJ who did his best to keep the team in the game, scoring 11 points in the opening stanza. For the game he finished with a team-high 21 points.
What Could Have Gone Better
  • The free throw shooting hurt tonight, as the team shot 15-24 from the charity stripe (63%). Contrast that with the Celtics 26-29 performance (90%), and that's pretty much the difference in the game.
  • You can blame tired legs a little, but the Hawks inability to put the ball in the basket in the 4th quarter was the deciding factor tonight. While Sam Cassell made basket after basket, the Hawks saw several shots come thisclose to dropping without going in. It was especially tough, given that the Celtics rested their big three for the better part of the fourth.

Quote of the Night
"If we play them in the first round, beating them 3-0 during the season doesn't matter. It matters five minutes into Game 1, but after that that's gone. Atlanta is a young, athletic, and talented team. They can be very dangerous, and if we meet them in the playoffs, we would have our hands full."

-- Celtics coach Doc Rivers, on the potential Hawks-Celtics matchup in the first round of the NBA Playoffs

View From The Seats

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