Fans are allowed to do things like look past a first round opponent and assume that the Celtics will beat the Hawks in a 7 game series. Players are human, so you can understand why they might slip up from time to time. But this is the NBA playoffs and these guys have been to a few rodeos in their time. There's really no excuse for letting the Hawks come out and be the aggressors and take the first swing.
Boxing analogies are old and cliche but they are also just so appropriate - as Paul Pierce will demonstrate below. But first, some second guessing of Doc's decision to rest the starters down the stretch.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers’s decision to rest his players for essentially the final four regular-season games was critical in Sunday’s 83-74 loss. The team sleepwalked through the first quarter, allowing 31 points as the Hawks built a lead they never relinquished. If there ever was a case of too much rest and a sense of entitlement, it was in this game, when the Celtics looked as if they were ready to punch the Hawks in the mouth and instead were flat-out embarrassed and outhustled in the first 12 minutes.
I'm still in favor of what Doc did, but I'm not a fan of how the team responded. I guess in once sense Doc should have known from prior years that when this team takes the foot off the gas, they get sloppy quick. But again, we're talking the playoffs here. No excuses.
"We kind of eased into the game," Paul Pierce [stats] said. "We always establish ourselves early defensively, and we definitely didn’t do that tonight. They got every loose ball. They got every 3-point shot. They got everything they wanted in the first, and then it was like in most boxing matches. "You get your guard up, then you take your guard down, then you punch and you’re like, OK, we’re in a fight. We’ve got to realize we’re in a fight from the jump. That’s all there is to it."
Ridiculous. Letting your guard down for a minute is what gets you bounced from the playoffs. They need to come into the next game with their hands up and throwing punches so they can steal home court.