The Atlanta Hawks used every vial of alligator blood in their refrigerator to attempt a series-extending victory, but the Celtics managed to survive and will move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Paul Pierce looked significantly more mobile tonight, if not quite his most spry. His tough hoop to bring the Celtics within one during trouble time was very appreciated, as was his final-second block of Joe Johnson, as were his final two charity shots. Kevin Garnett was an absolute monster in every facet of the game. He also hit a game-winning turnaround in the post, but who kept track of that? Rajon Rondo is Rajon Rondo, though I wish he hadn’t traveled on that possesion late in the fourth quarter. Ryan Hollins did his thing, but shouldn’t have been in the game with four minutes left. Of course (what do I know?) he had an absolutely crucial offensive rebound with 42.3 seconds left. Mickael Pietrus will always have his putback dunk. Keyon Dooling remains an undesirable piece of the rotation.
Brandon Bass had his moments early, went mute for three quarters, then canned a critical jumper once the Hawks pulled within three midway through the fourth. Ray Allen couldn’t hit shit in the first half, reacted by trying to dunk on the entire Atlanta Hawks roster, hit a pretty big three in the second half, and oddly missed one of two free throws when the Celtics needed them the most. I maintain that it’s really difficult to choose whether Allen or Bradley deserve late-game minutes, but Doc Rivers seems to prefer Ray in the fourth quarter (I know, Bradley re-entered late, but just for defensive purposes). Greg Stiemsma struggled a little, but he will live to make important contributions at a later moment in time.
The Philadelphia 76ers await on Saturday.
More to come later, assuming I’m alive tonight after a 20-hour workday and that nerve-murdering affair.
It’s nothing more than a footnote, but Rondo didn’t reach 10 assists. And if Al Horford had made both of those free throws, Doc really would have come to regret having Marquis Daniels guard him on the final possession.