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Monday, May 5, 2008
Don't try to explain it, just be happy they're moving on
In what will go down as one of the most lopsided game seven's of all-time, the Boston Celtics took out three losses worth of frustration on the Atlanta Hawks yesterday at the Garden, winning 99-65 to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cavs.
Doc Rivers (who had never made it out of the first round as a coach), Paul Pierce (who had another meltdown in game 6) and KG (who has only made it out of the first round once) were all spared what would have been a brutal off-season of questions if a 66-win team choked in the first round to a bad team.
The game was never really in doubt as Boston led 44-26 at halftime and by as much as 38 points in the third quarter. Atlanta never showed up (yesterday or in any of the games in Boston). And that ends one of the strangest playoff series' you'll ever see. No road wins for either team and the C's dominated every home game, winning by 19+ each time.
Five Celts scored in double figures, led by Paul Pierce (22 points). Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 11 boards. Kendrick Perkins was a force defensively with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Rajon Rondo had 10 points and six assists while Leon Powe had 12 points off the bench.
Ray Allen struggled all game, shooting 3 of 12 for seven points but nobody noticed.
Joe Johnson was the only Hawk over ten points with 16. Salim Stoudamire had 10 in extended garbage time and Al Horford ended his fine rookie season with eight points and ten rebounds. Mike Bibby (who couldn't play worse in Boston if he tried) had two points, four rebounds and two assists.
Marvin Williams almost killed Rondo with a hard foul in the third quarter. Rondo went in for a layup and Williams grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed. The two are supposedly friends and luckily Rondo was fine but it could have been a disaster. Williams got a Type-2 flagrant foul and with that, his first playoff season was over.
KG also exacted some revenge on Hawks goofy big man Zaza Pachulia. Garnett absolutely laid him out (on a clean screen) in the back court. Rivers pulled KG and the rest of the starters by the beginning of the fourth since the game was long decided and Boston will play again on Tuesday.
For now, I'm not going to look back on this series with the Hawks much. It exposed plenty of problems with Boston but the most important thing is that they got by. They are still the top seed and I feel like they should get by Cleveland as well. There's no other team that depends so heavily on one player like LeBron and the Cavs. If the Celts can slow him down for four games and make the assorted spare parts beat them, they'll be fine. It's a favorable matchup for Boston but Cleveland has been resting since Friday night so they could steal either game 1 or 2.