The Celtics started this game off strong as they got out to an 18-3 lead behind 6-7 shooting. But, then the shots stopped falling for them and the Hawks climbed back to take a 29-24 lead at the end of the first quarter as Pierce, KG and then Rondo all went to the bench with 2 fouls in the first quarter.
Leon Powe, James Posey, Ray Allen, Big Baby, and Sam Cassell started the second quarter. Pierce and KG soon came back in and with 4 minutes gone in the second quarter, KG caught Pachulia with an elbow as he was clearing space. Pachulia then got in KG's face and was shouting at him and then head butted him. To KG's credit, he didn't retaliate and kept his hands down to his side. However, Sam got into it with Joe Johnson and 4 technicals were called. KG got a technical for throwing the elbow and Sam, Johnson and Pachulia all got technicals for their part in the fight. The coaches moved quickly to keep their players on the bench but film showed that Perk and Marvin Williams both took one step onto the court before being pushed back. Whether the league takes action and suspends them will be decided later. After the fight, the Celtics kept it close and ended the quarter down 51-48.
The Celtics came out in the third quarter looking like the Celtics that won 66 games this season. They took the ball to the hoop and played team defense on the Hawks and outscored the Hawks 24-13 to take a 75-65 lead into the fourth quarter.
Everything that they did right in the third quarter, they suddenly did wrong in the fourth quarter. The Hawks chipped away at the Celtics lead and took an 81-79 lead with just over 5 to play in the game. The Hawks couldn't miss and the Celtics couldn't hit. The final score was Hawks 97 and Celtics 92
The officiating in this game was as bad as any I have seen all year and it was decidedly one sided. The Celtics shot 18 free throws while the Hawks shot 33 free throws. Some of that was because the Celtics continually settled for jumpers instead of attaching the rim, but most of it was because the refs were allowing a lot of contact from the Hawks while calling touch fouls on the Celtics. Even though the officiating was terrible, the Celtics cost themselves the game.
The best defensive team in the league simply didn't play defense. They allowed the Hawks to shoot 48% while shooting just 41% themselves. They constantly settled for jumpers even though the jumpers weren't falling. They didn't attack the basket and weren't aggressive going after rebounds, allowing the Hawks to out rebound them for the second game in a row. I have to feel that much of this loss has to be on the coaches. Doc should have demanded that they stop shooting jumpers and take the ball to the hoop. Doc's rotations and substitutions are also somewhat questionable.
The Celtics now go home for game 5 tied at 2 games apiece in a series that they were expected to, and should have swept. They need to do some soul searching and get back to the basics that made them such a dominant team all season. In the two games in Atlanta, they were playing timidly and weren't the aggressors. They need to get back to playing team defense and being more aggressive. If they don't figure out what went wrong in these last two games and make the adjustments to correct it, the dream season that we have had so far could very easily become a nightmare.