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Hawks Prey on Celtics

Ray Allen shoots over Joe Johnson in Atlanta. Allen went 3-7 from behind the arc in a losing effort. (Scott Cunningham, NBAE/Getty Images)

The flaws in Boston’s game are clear: poor rebounding, too many turnovers, and average age/health. Each of those holes became glaring in the Celtics’ loss to the Hawks on Friday night in Atlanta, 93-85.

The rundown: Boston, the second worst rebounding team in the NBA, lost the battle of the boards, 39-36; turned the ball over 15 times; played without Kevin Garnett, Tony Allen, and Marquis Daniels; and were blown away by the younger, more athletic Hawks in the second half.

The Hawks (23-12) shot 49% from the field, including 50% from behind the arc, with all five starters finishing the game in double figures. Sixth man extraordinaire Jamal Crawford made the most of his 25 minutes on the floor, leading all Atlanta scorers with 18 points.

After an ugly first quarter when both teams came out cold, the Celtics heated up in the 2nd frame, draining four of five three-pointers. Boston entered the locker room at the half with a six point lead, 45-39, and enough momentum to hand the struggling Hawks their fifth loss in six games.

But, the Hawks came out in the second half like they were shot out of a cannon. In just three minutes, Boston’s six point lead was erased, and a Mike Bibby three put the Hawks up 50-49–a lead they would never relinquish.

Atlanta didn’t just up their offensive game, they put the clamps down defensively, holding the Celtics to just 15 points in the third quarter. Worse, those 15 points are a bit deceptive. With 1:11 remaining in the third, Boston had scored a pathetic 8 points, and this reporter was ready to consult the record books for the Celtics’ lowest ever point total in a quarter (six points in the second quarter against New Jersey on 1/9/90). A Usain Bolt-quick 7-0 run by Boston salvaged the quarter and cut the Hawks double-digit lead to 8.

The teams traded baskets in the fourth until the Celtics went on a 10-0 run at the 7-minute mark, making the score 78-76 (Hawks lead). Paul Pierce led the Green with 21 points and six steals, at one point poured in 10 consecutive Celtics’ points in the fourth, but Boston ran out of gas and managed just four points in the final three minutes.

Notes:

  • The referees put their whistles away in the first half, calling a grand total of 10 fouls. It made for a remarkably quick but snippy first 24 minutes.
  • After shooting 1-8 from behind the arc Friday night, Rasheed Wallace (11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) is now tied with Ray Allen for the team lead in three-pointers attempted at 164. This despite the fact Sheed averages roughly 15 fewer minutes per game than Allen and is shooting threes at just 28%. In the name of Red Auerbach, will someone please tell Wallace to stop chucking up so many threes? Our 6’11” PF/C spends the majority of his time hanging out 23-feet away from the basket and averages just four boards a game. It’s no wonder the Celtics are the second-worst rebounding team in the NBA.
  • Kendrick Perkins (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (11 points 10 assists) each chipped in a double double-double.
  • A stomach virus is making its way through the Celtics locker room, and a sick Tony Allen couldn’t even leave his Atlanta hotel room. With KG and Marquis Daniels out, Doc Rivers’ typical 12-man rotation went just nine deep, eight if you don’t include the forgettable four minutes Brian Scalabrine played.
  • The Celtics are now 0-2 versus the Hawks this season. Boston will have a chance to even out the matchup this month as they face the Hawks at home on the 11th and in Atlanta on the 29th.

About Sharkey

I was 11 years old when the ball scooted through Buckner's wickets, a moment that is laser-etched in my mind: In my living room, on the floor in front of the TV, ready to burst as the Sox needed just one more out, one more strike, to become World Series champs. Mets players sat with slumped shoulders and dejected looks in the dugout. Even the scoreboard operator recognized the game, and the series, was over, posting on the jumbotron: Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Series Champions. "They did it!" I said, unable to contain myself. "The Sox won it all!" My father, sitting behind me on the couch with a furrowed brow, knew better. "It's not over yet." And so it was. Having watched the Sox, Celts, and Pats for the past three decades, I truly feel like I've seen it all. I hope to bring that type of perspective as I write about the three teams I love.

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Discussion

One comment for “Hawks Prey on Celtics”

  1. I get the impression that nobody can tell Rasheed anything. It’s sad to see so much obvious talent go to waste, and though I never again thought I’d see a Celtic as insanely obsessed as Antoine Walker with making an ass of himself from the 3 point line…well, Rasheed is cut from the same cloth. I just think he’s lazy and totally selfish. It takes hard work to be an effective rebounder or low post player, and though the skill is there, I’m afraid the will is lacking. Much easier to hoist up the ball from beyond the arc, and it’s just too damned bad if it hurts the team.

    Man, does this team need Garnett in there! But I’m afraid Sharkey’s all too right when he points out that the age/health issue is a fatal flaw. Unless everyone suddenly gets healthy right before the playoffs, the Celts have no chance for a title.

    Posted by Ken | January 9, 2010, 5:38 pm

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