ATL: Hawks Show Bright Spots in Defeat to Boston Celtics

Sean StancillSenior Writer IDecember 18, 2008

The stat-book says it. The white pages dressed with seas of black characters declare it. The Hawks should have won that game.

Atlanta suffered another anguish-flavored defeat by the hands of the Boston Celtics. However, there is no reason the youngsters should bifurcate.

Atlanta has lost two games against the defending champions this season. They lost the first game by a fadeaway from the hands of another Paul Pierce dagger, and the second from poor shooting.

I'm going with the notion that the first game was simply a fluke or the wrath of the Truth. However last night's 88-85 loss was a result of the Hawks' shooting themselves in the foot, rather than aiming at the basket.

Distasteful officiating also could be to blame but you can't deny how atrocious the Hawks starters were field-goal-wise.

All five starters missed six shots or more, including Joe Johnson, who missed 10 field goal attempts. Also, dependable point guard Mike Bibby missed 11. Together the tandem went 11-32 from the field, the worst point-shooting guard performance of the evening.

Back to the stats claim.

Joe Johnson has missed at least nine or more shots in 18 games this season, and Atlanta has only played 25 games total.

However in those lackluster performances, Johnson has averaged 29.2 points per game (up 4.2 from his regular average of 25.3), and the Hawks have wins over New Orleans, Orlando, and Cleveland. 

So I suppose you must take the good with the bad.

Dating back to last April's first round playoff series involving both Atlanta and Boston, the Hawks were 4-2 when Ray Allen makes only one three-pointer, and when he missed nine or more shots. 

But still the Hawks lost. Though it was their 10th defeat of the season (after they started 6-0), it was only their second home loss (9-2). There were also a few clusters of bright spots in the game.

ATL showed their toughness and intensity by scattering for loose balls, manning the paint, and erupting after questionable calls by the officials.

They silenced one of the best pure shooters in NBA history in Ray Allen as the trio of Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, and Maurice Evans prohibited him from reaching double-figures; finishing with nine points on 5-15 shooting, and 1-8 from behind the arc. 

Combined in the two games the teams have played this season, Atlanta has only allowed Allen to score 26 points on 11-32 shooting. But even more astounding is three-point percentage.

Hawks’ defenders have ferociously contested every long distance heave enough to thwart any atonement for Allen from long distance. The Boston Celtics' leading scorer only has two makes in 17 tries, an icy 11.7 percent from downtown.

Now for the offensive standpoint.

Four out of five Hawks' starters notched double figures, and the only player who didn't was Al Horford (eight points), but he led all players from both sides of the court with a game-high 11 rebounds. He also contributed two blocks and was a terror on the offensive glass (four), and his eagerness to hunt down loose balls and close out on defenders surely didn't go unnoticed.

Then there was clutch forward Marvin Williams.

Though his specialty may be the long ball in adverse situations, Williams only attempted two but still managed to 50 percent from the field and netted 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal. He was only one-of-two players on either team to register a number in those five categories last night.

The second was teammate Josh Smith in his ninth game back from his injury.

Smith was solid by contributing 14-7-4-1-1, and was a factor on the defensive glass with six of his seven boards coming from that end of the floor.

It was also Smith's first time cracking 40 minutes or more (41) this season, which attributes to his five fouls. Once his conditioning mends itself, he will be able to affect the game more positively towards his team.

The next time these two squads meet is March 27 again in ATL. Expect fireworks and the same playoff atmosphere that has been apparent in their matchups.