When asked how the Celtics sustained their effort throughout the game Kevin Garnett said, "Doc told us before the game we needed to close out the quarters and close out the game strongly.
"We came out and tried to do that. It doesn't matter who we're playing, we just have to remember to play our style."
The Hawks bench put together a run in the second quarter and pulled to within two, but that was as close as they could get as the Celtics stretched their lead to nine at the end of the first half.
The third and fourth quarters were all Celtics as their defense kept the Hawks to a meager 38 percent on shots made from the field. The Celtics bench provided a scoring lift in the second half with Leon Powe and Sam Cassell finishing with 10 points a piece.
The lone bright spot for the Atlanta Hawks was Al Horford who finished with a game high 20 points.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played in Boston on Wednesday night.
On the sidelines: The Boston Red Sox showed up large to support the Celtics first playoff game in three years with David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, and Kevin Youkilis at court side. Red Sox owner John Henry also attended and sat in the front row with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck.