After struggling Friday night against the short-handed Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics faced an Atlanta team almost at full strength on Sunday. The Hawks saw the return of Josh Smith (knee) and Al Horford (pectoral muscle) in Game 4.
So instead of struggling against the suddenly improved Hawks, the Celtics played one of their more focused and balanced games of the season, crushing the Hawks 101-79.
The C’s set the tone early with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce working as a dynamic duo to break Atlanta’s spirit. Rondo followed his triple-double in Game 3 with a more impressive but less stat filled effort in Game 4. The point guard and team diva gave Boston 20 points, 16 assists, 3 steals and only 1 turnover while shooting 8-11 from the floor.
Pierce erased the rust of his stinker in the previous game by eradicating the Hawks tonight scoring 24 points in just 18 minutes on a bum knee. It was revealed that Pierce injured his knee in shoot around and that Doc Rivers planned for Boston to be without Pierce’s services. Pierce felt OK at game time and started the game hot hitting tough mid-range jumpers. He would leave in 2nd quarter as a result of the knee but would return to restablish dominance in the second half.
With the Celtics up nearly 40 points Pierce exited the game and stayed warm riding an exercise bike near the Boston bench. Luckily he was not needed again.
Boston’s bench actually played a part in the win and helped tilt the game in the Celtics decided favor. Ray Allen led the second unit in scoring with 12 points. The Boston reserves contributed 28 points in all for their best output of the series.
Atlanta’s starters combined for just 33 points on 13-33 shooting. Josh Smith continued his all-around play and was the only starter to reach double figures in scoring with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Horford looked better than one would imagine after missing 4 months of court time giving, Atlanta 12 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Atlanta will return to the friendly confines of the “Highlight Factory” on Tuesday night in hopes of avoiding elimination. Heading home after a loss like this is the best thing that can happen for Atlanta as they will look for an extra push from the home-court crowd. They also should be encouraged by the play of Horford who will likely return to the starting lineup for Game 5.
Boston will attempt to close the series out Tuesday as on the other end of their playoff bracket Philly will be attempting to do the same thing against Chicago the same night. The Celtics starters got some much needed rest as a result of the blow out but Boston doesn’t want to be the only team still looking to close their series out after Tuesday.
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