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Hawks Clinch Regular-Season Sweep over Struggling Celtics

It appears coach Mike Woodson and the Atlanta Hawks have finally solved the Boston Celtics. Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was an awfully tall task for the Boston Celtics — three games in four nights, and the second two coming on the road against the Magic and Hawks. To make matters worse, the C’s suffered a heartbreaking last-second loss to the Magic before coming into Friday night’s showdown with Hawks (a tough 100-91 loss).

It didn’t appear like the players were carrying over any baggage from the previous night’s loss in the first quarter.  Paul Pierce, who scored a game-high 35 points, was hot early, scoring 12 of the team’s 22 first quarter points, and the Celtics found themselves down by just a point entering the second quarter. The Hawk’s Jamal Crawford, a Celtic killer, nailed a half-court buzzer beater as the first quarter expired to give the Hawks a 23-22 edge.

The Hawks bench outscored the Celtics bench 13-2 in the first quarter, and continued their dominant play as Atlanta opened up the second quarter with a 16-4 run.  Boston couldn’t seem to slow the Hawks down. Atlanta held a 16-0 advantage in fast break points in the first quarter, and continued to push the tempo of the game in the second, outscoring the Celtics 30-19.

Jamal Crawford fueled the Atlanta offense, scoring 17 points in the first half. Crawford seems to have the Celtics number this season. He scored 18, 17, and 17 in Atlanta’s first three wins over Boston, and dropped 28 on Friday night.

With the first unit opening the second half, the Celtics managed to cut the Hawks lead from 14 to 1 late in the third quarter. Kevin Garnett, who scored 15 points on the night, began going to work on the over-matched Zaza Pachulia. A plethora of Atlanta fouls, including two technicals and a flagrant, allowed Boston back into the game. The Celtics went on to hit 19 of 20 free throws in the third quarter.

The game gradually slipped away from the Celtics in the final quarter. When they needed to make a defensive stop, they couldn’t. The Hawks four-time All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson exploded late, scoring 16 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, helping his team put the finishing touches on a 100-91 victory.

The Hawks moved one-half game ahead of Boston in the Eastern Conference with the win, and clinched the 4-0 regular season sweep. If these two teams meet again, it will be in the playoffs.

GAME HIGHS:

  • Points: (BOS) Pierce 35
  • Rebounds: (BOS) Perkins 12
  • Assists: (BOS) Rondo 8
  • Blocks: (ATL) Smith 3
  • Steals: (ATL) Johnson 3

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Discussion

3 comments for “Hawks Clinch Regular-Season Sweep over Struggling Celtics”

  1. For me, the most telling moment of last night’s game actually took place after the game at Doc’s press conference. When it was suggested that Rasheed was taking too many 3 pointers, Doc forcefully stated that if a 3 point shooter were open, he wanted that shooter to always take the shot, or else Doc would put him on the bench. In a nutshell, we see what gives a guy like Rasheed the rationale to keep doing what he does poorly. The coach expects him to take the shot, and despite his dismal 3 point percentage, he’s getting the green light to keep on doing it, no matter how silly it looks and how much it hurts the team. Of course he’s open – the opposing team would much rather he take that shot than work in the post. I can’t imagine how a professional coach could defend such an insane philosophy. Can you imagine a baseball manager telling a player to “keep on swinging for the fences even though you consistently strike out”? Doesn’t seem much different than telling a lousy 3 point shooter to keep on shooting despite the fact that he consistently misses.

    In closing, I’m also so happy to see Doc givng a few playing minutes to his top athlete, Brian Scalabrine. It’s always such a pleasure to see him in there while a guy like Walker continues to rot on the bench and Giddens remains banished to the D league. And kudos to Doc for emphasizing the importance of shutting down Jamal Crawford. His coaching plan to stop Jamal worked great last night as the Celts managed to keep Jamal from scoring 30. 28 is, of course, completely acceptable.

    Posted by Ken | January 30, 2010, 8:58 am
  2. Imagine if Danny went after Jamal Crawford as a sixth man instead of Rasheed Wallace last offseason. If Wallace played like a big man, then I’d prefer him. The Celtics could use help up front.

    Instead, Sheed is playing like Jamal Crawford, only he’s a worse shooter. I like a big man that can stretch the floor…but that’s different than a big man afraid to play down low.

    Posted by KC | January 30, 2010, 11:59 am
  3. Ken – I couldn’t agree with you more. Sheed has to start changing the way he plays, and that means playing like a power forward and taking less three-pointers. If Doc Rivers isn’t going to step up and coach this team, Kevin Garnett needs to take Wallace aside and have a little chat. I’ve been critical of Doc in some of my recent posts. I think it’s fairly evident that he has lost control of the ship at this point.

    I’ve also, like you, been puzzled by Doc’s reluctancy to get Walker and Giddens minutes, while Scalabrine continues to show he stinks. After the C’s recent stretch of losses, what does this team have to lose by playing their young athletes?

    Right now their second unit is garbage. They can’t seem to hold a lead to save their lives. I can’t count how many times of I’ve seen Glen Davis get rejected as he moves in slow motion toward the basket, how many three-pointers I’ve seen Rasheed Wallace brick, or how many times I’ve seen Brian Scalabrine get blown away by superior athletes.

    I hate to continue being the harbinger of bad news, and maybe the return of Marquis Daniels will give the second unit a boost, but right now this team is in serious trouble. We’ll see what happens against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.

    Posted by Andrew Kipp | January 30, 2010, 2:28 pm

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