Hawks Crush C’s in Game 5
It went from promising to ugly in the blink of an eye for the Celtics tonight, as they saw their early lead disintegrate into thin air in a 110-83 beating at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks at the Phillips Arena.
It was anything but an ideal start for both teams, early on. The C's struggled from the field, shooting just 31.8 percent, but the Hawks made that number look good as they shot a dismal 23.8 percent from the field.
Boston started to figure something out towards the end of the quarter, as they finished the first on an 8-2 run, thanks to seven points from Game 4 hero Marcus Smart.
While Smart seemed to have things figured out on the scoring end, Boston's defense suffocated Atlanta's big men, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, who went scoreless in the first 12 minutes.
They weren't the only stars kept silent early on, though, as Isaiah Thomas was virtually nonexistent for the C's in the opening quarter.
The struggles continued for Thomas in the second as he was continually double covered and was unable to get any of his four first half shots to fall.
While Horford also entered the half scoreless, his teammates rose to the occasion in the second quarter to help balance out his cold start.
After trailing by as many as 10 points midway through the quarter, Atlanta stepped on the gas and went on a 28-10 run to take a 47-39 lead to the break. The charge was led by Hawks' forwards Kent Bazemore and Mike Scott, who had 14 and nine points respectfully.
Things got real ugly, real quick for the C's in the third quarter. After stumbling through the end of the first half, Boston got their doors blown off by Atlanta.
The Hawks put on a shooting clinic in the third, adding a whopping 42 points in the quarter. With only 23 points of their own, the C's entered the final quarter down 89-62 and all but out of game five.
To make matters worse, Thomas, who had been ice cold all game long, left the court in the fourth with what has been reported as a mild left ankle sprain.
Up until the midway point of the second quarter, the C's seemed to have this game in hand. The Hawks were struggling to score and Boston was putting just enough points on the board to breathe comfortably.
That's when it all went down hill, however, as Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer switched up the line up and Atlanta got red hot. From there the Hawks outscored Boston 70-30 through the end of the third.
No team is going to come back from a swing that harsh on the road.
Not only was it a bad sign for the C's that Isaiah Thomas was virtually nonexistent all night on the court, scoring just seven points on 3-12 shooting from the field, but the fact he left the game with a sprained ankle doesn't bode well for the rest of the series.
Simply put, the C's regularly struggle offensively. They need Thomas to not only be on the court, but effectively scoring at a high rate to win these games. Think back to Game 3, where he scored 42 points and really carried Boston to the win. The C's need more of that Thomas and less of tonight's version, which could be tough to bank on if he's playing on one leg.
Boston needs a good diagnosis on Thomas' ankle and a better game plan to free him up in Game 6 if they want to force this series to a final game.
Sharing The Love
It was nothing but good times and fun for the Hawks from the midway point of the second quarter until the end of the game. While the C's have relied on Thomas and maybe one other player here and there to get their wins in the series, Atlanta shared the wealth offensively in Game 4 as they cruised to the win.
The Hawks didn't have anyone score more than 17 points on the night, but they did have five players in double figures and seven with at least eight points in the game.
The C's took a thumping tonight and will have to put that behind them quickly, if they want to bounce back for Game 6. They'll need good news on Thomas and they'll need a better game plan heading into a now must win home game. Fortunately for Boston, they'll have their home crowd supporting them on Thursday night and the success of games 3 and 4 in the back of their minds to try and spur a big win.
Thomas says he's fine and he'll be ready for Game 6.