That was the team that won three games and forced a winner-take-all game seven?
It’s amazing how hard it is to win when the officials don’t put you on the line 40 times.
After going to the line 47 times in game six and winning the game from the charity stripe, the Hawks ran into a group of officials who weren’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, weren’t willing to let their own whistles decide the outcome of the game, and didn’t feel the need to keep the Hawks in the game.
Not to harp on the officiating, but 36 points were scored at the free-throw line in game six by the Hawks.
The Hawks only scored eleven in game seven.
This Hawks were scrappy, but they weren’t nearly as good as Doc Rivers and the officiating crews made them look in Atlanta.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
In the deciding game seven, the Hawks were outclassed.
The Celtics were the stronger, more aggressive team (it’s much easier when the officials aren’t taking away your aggressiveness). The Hawks were the slower, tired team.
The Hawks’ youth showed time and time again, as Josh Smith was a non-factor and Game 6 hero Marvin Williams was ejected for throwing Rondo on his head during an attempted layup.
Kendrick Perkins was able to stay out of foul trouble, and was a dominant force underneath the basket. Both offensively and defensively, he was a game-changer. There were no easy layups, and even mid-range jumpers were contested.
He was a beast.
He set the tone (especially defensively) early, and the rest of the team followed.
Pierce, Garnett, and Allen were good all night. On the defensive end, they were active and in position. On the offensive end, they were moving the ball, going to the hoop, and getting open looks.
This Celtics team has its issues, and I’m still worried about the rest of the playoffs, but for one day they were the dominant team we expected them to be going into the playoffs.
They embarrassed the Hawks.
They humiliated the Hawks.
And more importantly, they sent a message to the rest of the Eastern Conference that they’re not the team that showed up in Atlanta.
They’re the Boston Celtics.
The team that led the NBA in wins in the regular season, not the team that couldn’t win a game in Atlanta.
The team that led the league in defense, not the team that couldn’t stop Joe Johnson and Josh Smith in Atlanta.
They’re the team most of the “experts” picked to represent the East in the finals, not the team some of the “experts” were worried about going into Sunday’s game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are up next, and might be at an advantage given the time they’ve had to prepare while the Celtics were wasting time with the Hawks.
The Cavs will come into Boston on Tuesday rested and ready to go, while the Celtics will come into the game after having to lay it all out in a game seven.
If it weren’t a home game, I’d chalk it up as an automatic loss. But if there’s one thing the Celtics have proven in the playoffs this year, it’s they don’t lose at home.
They don’t even play close games at home.
The Celtics’ bench played the entire fourth quarter. Hopefully Doc will have to rest them and limit their minutes for the rest of the playoffs.
Wouldn’t want the bench to get tired.
Ray Allen did a nice job early getting to the basket, showing the Hawks that this wasn’t going to be the same team that settled for jump-shot after jump-shot in game six.
Paul Pierce’s defense is underrated. Johnson hit a few contested threes, but for the most part he was a non-factor.
Smith had a nightmarish game where his nerves clearly got the best of him. He wasn’t even able to dribble the ball at times. Awful. The type that could be hard to get over.
Rondo was hit hard by Williams, in a play that resulted in Williams’ ejection, but bounced back to play his best game of the series. He was aggressive and ran the offense perfectly. Had he been hurt, the Celtics were in trouble, because Sam Cassell isn’t a full-time point guard.