If you are looking for a team that prefers adversity rather than smooth sailing then look no further than the 2011-2012 Boston Celtics.
With seemingly every possible advantage to obliterate the Atlanta Hawks, Boston had to scrape claw and grab their way to a 90-84 OT victory.
The Hawks had to play the game without Josh Smith who suffered a knee injury in Game 2 in addition to already missing Zaza Pachuila and Al Horford.
Boston entered the game with that knowledge and the luxury of getting both Rajon Rondo (suspension) and Ray Allen (ankle) back into their lineup.
Rondo returned in style with yet another triple-double tallying 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Unfortunately he also added 6 turnovers and as chunky as his line was it seemed at least to me a little underwhelming in terms of his actual play on the court.
Kevin Garnett played with his usual fire scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. KG made two crucial plays down the stretch that sealed the OT win for Boston. A tip dunk off a Rondo miss and a dive for a loose ball where he won the ensuing jump ball kept the Hawks from succeeding in their comeback attempt.
Atlanta got inspired play from Joe Johnson (29 points & 8 rebounds) and George Teague (23 points & 6 assists). Johnson played his best game of the series and keyed the 15-4 run that closed out the fourth quarter to send the game into OT. Teague continues to be a thorn in the Celtics side but he had two key turnovers down the stretch which showed his inexperience in these type of playoff moments.
What was particular frustrating from a Boston standpoint was how easy the Hawks plugged and played some of their spare parts from the bench.
Tracy McGrady had a flashback to his glory days and didn’t play with the 95 year old knees he actually has logging a season high 41 minutes. T-Mac’s second quarter kept the Hawks in the game and he finished the game with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
Eric Dampier and Vladamir Radmonovic also made appearances for Atlanta which almost seemed disrespectful if you didn’t take the Hawks myriad of injuries into account.
Boston’s bench finally showed some interest in the series largely due to the return of Allen who scored 13 points. Mickael Pietrus added 6 to give the bench 19 points of production, their best in the series, although it was only from two guys.
One of those two may have to assume starting duties with the news that Avery Bradley separated his shoulder in the third quarter. Bradley hopes to play in Game 4 but if he is unavailable, Pietrus should get the nod to keep Allen’s much need production in the second unit.
Beggars can’t be choosers I guess.
With that same principle in mind the Celtics should be happy with the win as they all count towards the goal of banner 18. The end result is all that matters and the Celtics are now two games away from moving on to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com