The Celtics looked more like the team that won 66 games in the regular season in this game. They got back to the basics that made them the best team in basketball this season as they played team defense, moved the ball to find the open man and the bench came in and gave the team some valuable minutes. The Celtics had 6 players in double figures led by Leon Powe with 10 points and 7 rebounds (5 on the offensive end), James Posey with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, and Sam Cassell who finished with 13 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
Paul Pierce had the best game of the series as he finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists and he was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket and more aggressive on defense. Perk spent much of the first half on the bench with foultrouble but played great defense in 22 minutes of play finishing with 2points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block. Rondo had another solid game with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists 1 steal and 1 block. Ray Allen hit some big three pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The game was once again very chippy with Horford being charged with a flagrant foul for grabbing KG around the neck and throwing him to the floor with 57 seconds left in the half. With 3:14 left in the third quarter, both KG and Joe Johnson were called for technicals for talking and getting a bit heated. In the fourth quarter the Hawks coach and Josh Smith were both called for technicals. There were several hard fouls on both sides with Ray raking Horford across the face on one foul. The refs did a good job of keeping it all in check, though.
The Celtics bench came up big tonight, outscoring the Hawks bench 35 - 14 with Leon Powe leading the way, filling in very well for Perk when he went out with 2 quick fouls. Doc didn't need to over play his starters with KG and Ray playing 37 minutes, Pierce playing 33 minutes and Rondo playing 31 minutes. The Celtics were hustling and diving for loose balls. Rondo lost some skin on his wrist diving for a loose ball at one point. The Celtics also showed their effort as they out-rebounded the Hawks 39-28 after being out-rebounded in both games in Atlanta. The Celtics did a great job of taking care of the ball with just 10 turnovers.
Most importantly, the Celtics defense was back. They doubled Johnson every time he touched the ball and they played great team defense, preventing the Hawks from running and getting easy baskets as they did in the previous two games. The Celtics shot 54% from the field while holding the Hawks to 41%. The Hawks went 25-29 from the line while the Celtics were 11-15 so once again, the Hawks got to the line almost twice as much as the Celtics.
The Wizards beat the Cavs in Cleveland forcing that series to a 6th game also which is good news for the Celtics. If the Cavs had closed out that series tonight they would have had a chance to rest up before the 2nd round started. The Celtics need to win in Atlanta on Friday so they can be the team getting some rest. All seems to be right in Celtics Land again.