Celtics Fall Victim to Poor Play in Game 3 Loss
The Celtics joined the list of teams that lost game 3 after being up 2-0. The Celtics were expected to sweep the Hawks due to the huge disparity in talent and depth between the two teams, but a combination of the Hawks athleticism and desire and the Celtics lack of focus gave game three to the home team putting the series at 2-1 instead of 3-0.
The Hawks very obviously wanted this game more than the Celtics. They came out strong to begin the game and kept up their intensity for 48 minutes. They used their speed and athleticism to disrupt the Celtics game plan on both ends of the floor. The Hawks out played the Celtics who looked a step slow on both offense and defense.
From the start, you could tell that the game would be a physical one. With just 1 minute gone in the first quarter, Perk was hit in the nose by Horford and had to leave the game with a bloody nose. He did return with both nostrils packed with cotton and played 10 minutes in the first half but played only 18 minutes in the game finishing with 10 points, 2 rebounds and 1 block. Without Perk’s defense inside, the Hawks seemed to get to the hoop at will.
The Celtics were down by as many as 9 points in the first half but came back to tie the game at 56 at the half. The start of the third quarter was delayed for several minutes while they tried to fix a shot clock malfunction. They started the quarter with no shot clocks running and the PA announcer counting down the seconds. When the third quarter finally started, the Celtics were completely out played by the Hawks. They missed 10 shots in a row during one stretch and allowed the Hawks way too many open shots. The third quarter ended with the Celtics down 84-74. The lead ballooned to 15 in the fourth quarter before the Celtics cut it to 9 for the final score of 102-93.
Kevin Garnett was the high scorer for the Celtics finishing with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Pierce had 17 points, 2 rebounds, and 8 assists and didn’t seem to be bothered by the back injury he suffered in game 2 although he shot just 5-13. At the end of the fourth quarter, Pierce went for a steal from Al Horford and ended up on the floor as Horford went past and scored the basket. On his way by, Horford was taunting Pierce who was furious. I can imagine that Pierce will remember those words as motivation for the rest of the series. Ray Allen struggled with his shot in this game as he went 5-14 for 13 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Mike Bibby put his game where his mouth has been as he out played Rondo for the first time in the series. He finished with 12 points and 8 assists and more importantly, his team got the win. Rondo had 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Celtics settled for too many quick shots and didn’t move the ball to find the open man. It seemed as though each player was trying to do too much and the team concept went right out the window along with the team defense that has made them so dominant during the season.
The Celtics defense, which has been the best in the league just wasn’t there tonight. The Hawks shot 47% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc while holding the Celtics to 44% shooting. The Hawks were able to get to the hoop for easy dunks and layups throughout the game as well as get open shots on the perimeter. The Celtics were also out-rebounded 43-35 which shows of a lack of effort on their part since rebounding is mostly effort and desire. The team that wins the rebounding battle is the team that wants the game more.
The Hawks deserved this win as they outplayed the Celtics on both ends of the court. The Celtics lost their focus in this game but this loss should serve as motivation for them to regroup and come out even more focused for the rest of the series and playoffs.