Unlike Game 1, the Atlanta Hawks came into this game with an aggressive attitude and a chip on their shoulder. Knowing they’re better than the performance they put on Saturday (Game 1), the dirty birds came out the gates firing at will. Kyle Korver, who went 0 for 7 from the 3-pt line just three nights ago, went 3 for 4 in the first 5 minutes. He was part of the reason why the Celtics had to use multiple timeouts to stop the massacre that was the 24-3 lead the Hawks established after mere minutes.
In Game 1, Atlanta was up by 20-plus points but allowed a second half comeback to finish the game with a one point victory. Tonight, Korver and crew handled their business and beat the Celtics by 17.
The Hawks led the entire game and despite the final score, it could’ve been worse than that. You can’t mention the jaw-dropping 15 blocks accrued by the team’s effort without throwing in their 15 turnovers. Let’s assume half of those were converted lay-ups. So take 7 lay-ups at 2 points apiece for 14 points, which means the score would’ve been 103-72. Obliterating an opponent by 31 in the playoffs would’ve been the ultimate confidence booster going into the away leg of a series.
Tonight’s win also didn’t come without a few bumps and bruises. Al Horford was forced to call a timeout after clutching his knee (and went straight to the bench) and Dennis Schröder landed awkwardly on his ankle.
The Celtics just couldn’t find the mark tonight. They had to rely heavily on their bench with Avery Bradley out (injury) and Marcus Smart totaling a disappointing 3 points for the night.
Isaiah Thomas was the team leader with 16 points and 2 assists, with Amir Johnson and Evan Turner right behind him with 14 and 12 points respectively. Others who struggled included Jared Sullinger (4 points) and Jae Crowder (2 points).
The Hawks will try to rest and prepare for Game 3 in Boston on Friday, April 22. I’m hoping tonight’s performance can be replicated in Boston this Friday. But if Isaiah Thomas gets going and the team can ride the wave of home team momentum, that 15 turnovers’ stat might be replicated instead.
Photo: Kent Foster