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No one expected this series to go to a fifth game, and certainly no one expected it to go a sixth game. But after tonight’s loss, the series is going to return to Boston on Wednesday night for game five and then back to Atlanta for game six on Friday.
The heat was on early in this game after all the trash talking and other disputes between the two teams in the past few games. Four technical fouls were issued in the second quarter to Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, Zaza Pachulia, and Joe Johnson after a bit of bumping heads and some other aggression. The second half turned into a tight match-up with no altercations of any sort, but the hard fouls continued, resulting in a tough physical game all night.
The Celtics had a lot of opportunities tonight, but failed to hold onto their leads and convert on their chances to score. Poor shooting and their unwillingness to drive to the basket cost the Celtics this game. You could also point to the officiating for some questionable calls; the quick foul to Garnett after he was on the receiving end from a head-butt by Zaza Pachulia. Ultimately though, there was one obstacle that kept the Celtics out of this one, a guy who was once on the Celtics: Joe Johnson.
Joe Johnson was unstoppable tonight, especially in the fourth quarter, as he put up 35 points on the scoreboard tonight, with 20 coming from the fourth quarter alone. Johnson ruined any chance the Celtics had to hold onto their early 10-point lead in the fourth quarter for the win.
Besides Johnson, Atlanta had help from Josh Smith who had 28 points, Mike Bibby put up 18 points, and Al Horford had 13 rebounds to go with his 6 points. The Celtics were lead by Ray Allen who had 21 points, Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 9 rebounds, Paul Pierce added 18, and Rajon Rondo had 14 points 12 assists. The Celtics also only managed to hit 18 of their free throws while the Hawks were able to convert 33 of their free throws into points.
The Celtics luckily will get to return to Boston for game five where, hopefully, the home court advantage should be able to put them back on top in the series. Better officiating and a stronger game from their bench will give the Celtics a lead again. The bench only added 13 points tonight with 10 of them coming from James Posey. The Celtics need to be a bigger presence under the basket in the next game. Look to see Tony Allen return to action possibly with his ability to drive to the hoop.