Sunday, May 6, 2012
The Celtics Finally Play Like They Are Capable Of, The Hawks Are Toast (As Always)
The C's won 101-79 in Game 4 at TD Garden to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first round series. Believe me when I tell you that it wasn't nearly that close since Boston led by 37 (80-43) early in the third quarter so it was extremely extended garbage time for a playoff game with every active player on both rosters seeing action.
The funniest part of the blowout was that Josh Smith (15 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists) and Al Horford (12 points) both surprisingly played but it still couldn't create a pulse in one of the most pathetic teams in professional sports. Jannero Pargo (11 points) was the only other Hawk to score in double figures.
If you created a perfect scenario for the Celts, it wouldn't have strayed too far from how this one unfolded. The starters played great and they earned plenty of rest ahead of a possible closeout game. Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points in get this, 17 minutes. Rajon Rondo played even better than he did on Friday when he had a triple-double in Game 3. He put up 20 points (8 of 11 from the floor including 2 for 3 on 3-pointers), 16 rebounds and three steals with only one turnover. Kevin Garnett had 13 points and Brandon Bass (10 points) reached double figures for the first time after scoring eight points each time in the first three games.
Ray Allen had 12 points off the bench and Keyon Dooling added 10. A blowout like this has to shatter any remaining confidence Atlanta could have possibly possessed. Boston has held the Hawks to 84 points or less in every game and in Game 4, they coupled that stingy defensive effort with an offensive explosion (after scoring 90 or less in the first three games).
The Celtics hit seven more 3-pointers (11-4) and swatted six more shots (6-0), those are two signs of a team that has already checked out and is thinking about the offseason.
Boston will look for its fourth consecutive win on Tuesday (8:00 p.m., CSNE) as they get their first crack at sending the Hawks home (although they'll be at Philips Arena) for good. If you want another reason to get this series over, Philadelphia is up 3-1 on Chicago (winner of this series faces that winner) so the Celtics would not only get the Sixers instead of the depleted Bulls but they would have home-court in the next round. Moreover, it looks like the Sixers are going to eliminate the Bulls in Game 5 (Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.) themselves because they've won the last three games since Derrick Rose went down.