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Before Friday night, the Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks in the team’s past seven meetings in the regular season. This time the Hawks prevailed and gave the Celtics their second loss of the season in a 97-86 victory. This Hawks team keeps getting better each and every year as they brought their record to 7-2 on the year with the win Friday. The Celtics-Hawks rivalry is one that seems to be growing and on Friday the 13th the Hawks were the Celtics’ worst nightmare.
Back in 2008, the same Hawks team pushed the Celtics to seven games in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Celtics in Boston. The Celtics then went on to win the team’s 17th NBA Championship. The Hawks never won a game in Boston since, but with a win on Friday they finally have something to smile about.
The team from Atlanta was led by former-Celtic Joe Johnson, who tied the game-high with Paul Pierce with 24 points. He also added seven rebounds and three assists on the night. Johnson was the biggest headache for the Celtics but Jamal Crawford killed the C’s for 18 points off the bench, even though he shot just 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Also helping out the Hawks were Al Horford(12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Josh Smith (14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks). Mike Bibby also chipped in 13 points with six assists and four rebounds.
The Celtics were led by Pierce with 24 points, even after he sustained a bruised knee during the third quarter when he was driving to the basket. He returned in the fourth quarter wearing a knee brace.
Also helping out for the Celtics were Kevin Garnett and Perkins, who both finished with14 points apiece. Ray Allen had a quiet night as he scored 10 points off of 5-for-8 shooting with five assists in 40 minutes of play. Rajon Rondo was also quiet, as he only scored four points but had nine assists and four rebounds.
Lack of defense and poor outside shooting were what hurt the Celtics the most on the night. If you look at the stats, they would normally indicate a win for Boston, but that was not the case.
The Celtics shot 49.3% for the game, the Hawks shot 45.2%. The C’s had 58 points in the paint, the Hawks had 44. We had 20 assists, they had 19; but then again the Hawks out-rebounded the Celtics 47-29, with Perkins leading the way for Boston with nine. The Celtics also shot 1-f0r-15 from 3-point range and the Hawks were 4-for-15, not much better, but they still made three more shots from downtown. Other than that, the steals, blocks, fouls, and turnovers were all pretty equal on both sides.
All-in-all the Hawks just wanted the game more than the Celtics. Atlanta played harder, fought for the tough rebounds and were able to execute off of turnovers. There should be no excuse on the Celtics side; they got beat at home by a very good team that came to play. I am sure the Hawks had this game circled on their calender and the next time the two teams meet, Doc Rivers will have it circled on his team’s calender as well.
The Celtics next play the Indiana Pacers Saturday in Indiana. The Pacers are 3-3 on the year but they have won their past three contests and Coach Jim O’Brien will be ready to take on his former team once again.