Atlanta Hawks 88, Boston 83
The Celtics outscored the Hawks by 10 in the 2nd quarter. The Hawks outscored the Celtics by 11 in the 4th. The second one was the one that mattered.
Tonight was a tale of the team that just flat out finished better. Early on the Celtics were scoring well, moving the ball, Rondo was playing great, Delonte looked mean, and Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis were hitting shots.
Later on, that all kind of switched. Paul Pierce played a bit of 'hero ball', Glen Davis took WAY too many contested (and contested was the key word there. Horford was all up in his business like the IRS for the entire second half) jumpers, and Ray Allen for a second consecutive game looked miserable.
On top of that the Celtics couldn't buy a rebound to save their lives in the second half, and not surprisingly much of that was against a Hawks lineup that consisted of Al Horford and Zaza P (I don't care to spell his name right now. Pachulie? Now get that Pachulie stink outta my store?), two big men, against a lineup of Garnett and Glen Davis. Wouldn't it be cool if we had a legit 7 footer on the bench who could rebound?
It was a very frustrating loss on a lot of fronts, but allow me to look at two particular elements.
1) Ray Allen looked absolutely miserable for the second consecutive game. And I don't mean that he played miserably (which he did for the most part, but he didn't get many looks), I mean he looked miserable. The notion that 'Ray isn't getting good screens' has been floating around now, and tonight I looked for it. In tonight's game at least, it bore out as true. There was one moment in the second half where the lineup was Delonte, Ray, Sasha Pavlovic, Jeff Green, and Jermaine O'Neal. Ray did his usual run from one end of the floor to the other, and picked up just one half-hearted screen. It was obvious that Delonte was looking for him the whole time, but as Ray curled around the last screen, Delonte looked and saw (correctly) that there was nothing there, and tossed up a contested J with no time left. Ray's screens were a little better with KG and Baby in, but when Green, JO, or Sasha were in there, he was missing support from the rest of the unit.
2) Kevin Garnett really disappointed me tonight. Yes, he's not a center. That's true. I cannot expect him to guard Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum. But Zaza Pachulie-stink? Tonight Garnett lost a mental battle versus a GUY NAMED Za-za. The only person I have ever heard of named Za-Za is a 93 year old woman. At not point was it more clear than late in the game when the Celtics still had a really obvious chance at taking the game, KG backed down Za-za (or tried to) and decided that passing to Glen Davis for a contested jumper was the better option. Aside from the ripped away emasculating rebounds from Zaza, that play to me more than anything personified KG's play against him tonight.
In conclusion, tonight wasn't frustrating because it was just a loss. There will be losses, even after the awesome game the C's played against the Spurs last night. Tonight's game was not disappointing because it was a great opportunity to really shake the notion that the Celtics cannot perform in back-to-backs. That ship sailed back in February. Tonight's game was disappointing because the Celtics fell apart when the game looked won, and the Hawks looked literally defeated. There was a moment in the third after a turnover that led to an outlet pass from Delonte West that ended up in Rajon Rondo's hands for an easy lay-in. The Hawks, as a team, pulled that shoulders down, sulky, 'poor me' walk down the court and jacked up a jumper that missed. If you would've asked me to predict the game right there, I would've said 15 point Celtics win. The Celtics let the Hawks back in, and it was ever so frustrating.