C’s Win Game 4 In OT, Tie Series With Hawks
There were ups and down all night long, but as the clock showed double zeros, the crowd at the TD Garden erupted with joy as the Celtics knocked off the Atlanta Hawks 104-95 in overtime, to tie their first round playoff series at two games apiece.
Both teams came out of the gate a bit rusty, as they each made just nine first quarter shots. Thanks to a couple of trips to the line, the C's, who shot just 37.5 percent from the field, took a 24-21 lead into the second quarter.
While the C's big three of Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder struggled to find a scoring rhythm in the first half, combining for 32 points, a trio of top performers for Atlanta were virtually nonexistent.
Center Al Horford and guards Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver did little scoring in the first two quarters, as they combined for just 13 first half points.
Atlanta managed to take a 48-46 lead into the break, however, thanks to the re-emergence of a usually dominant big man, who had been ice cold through the series' first three games.
Paul Millsap had 26 points combined through the first three games of this series. The Hawks' forward exploded for 26 points in the first half of Game 4.
Millsap kept his hot streak going into the second half as he attacked the C's early and often in the third. While everyone else in Hawks jersey's seemed to struggle, Millsap kept Atlanta on top.
The C's would not quit, however, battling back from as many as 16 points behind thanks to a strong third quarter performance from Thomas.
The guard nearly doubled his scoring output from the first half, as he added nine points in the quarter and helped the C's cut Atlanta's lead to just three heading into the fourth.
In the game's final quarter, Marcus Smart started to take over for Boston. The second year guard put in 11 fourth quarter points, helping the C's take a lead with under two minutes to play.
That was where Millsap finally got support from his crew.
With Boston up four and on their way to a big Game 4 win, Teague, who struggled all night long and entered the final quarter with just four points, hit back-to-back 3-point jumpers to put Atlanta up two with under 25 second remaining.
After a time out, the C's put the ball in Thomas' hands and the little man wasted no time splicing to the basket to knot the game up at 92 points apiece.
With only 15 seconds on the clock, the Hawks let Teague try to win it, but the guard lost control of the ball and was unable to get a shot off, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Boston came out hot finding big man Amir Johnson twice underneath the basket for two easy buckets and a four point lead.
After a couple of traded baskets, Thomas added the dagger to help the C's draw even in the best of seven series.
Millsap finished the night with a career high 45 postseason points, but make no doubt about it, the star of this game was Marcus Smart.
Smart finished the night with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists, including the huge 11 fourth quarter points, but what he did best of all was play staunch defense on Millsap down the stretch.
After a handful of Celtics players tried and failed to quiet Atlanta's power forward, Smart was switched on to Millsap in a mismatch situation. Instead of cower, the much shorter guard used his tenacity and grit to limit the game's high scorer at the end of regulation and in the extra period.
Boston still has an uphill climb ahead of them, as two of the final three games of this series will be played at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, a place the C's have failed to win in four games this year.
For now, though, fans can rejoice in the fact the Celts have shown life after a tough start to the series. They have proven they can win close games and that they can find unique ways to win. All they have to do is prove they can win on the road.