Pierce wasn't the Truth tonight.
The Celtics started off hot and the Hawks looked listless and resigned to their fate. Then a funny thing happened. Boston let the Hawks off the mat and gave them room to breathe. That was enough to give them new life. The rest of the game was all about runs by both teams. The Celtics just didn't have enough to finish them off.
Paul Pierce looked like he tweaked that knee and was not at full speed for the rest of the night. Give him credit for trying to gut it out, but he was clearly missing some lift on his drives and jumpers and he might have hurt the team more than helped tonight. Really wish we could have put this team away without burning him out. Now none of our limping, bruised, sore, and tired players is going to get to rest. Back to work on Thursday.
Rondo was very passive for the first half but found some kind of spark to rally the team back in the 3rd quarter. Oddly, his steal in the final seconds gave the Celtics a chance to win it, but his turnover (or whatever you call it when you fumble the ball and the buzzer sounds) in the subsequent possession sealed the deal for Atlanta.
Give credit to the Hawks who decided not to die quietly. Teague, Johnson, and Smith were all big tonight and they even got a very good game from Marvin Williams. But the story of the night was Al Horford, who wasn't even sure he was going to play, but turned in 19 points and 11 rebounds. I am NOT looking forward to seeing him again on Thursday as he gets back to full speed.
Celtics missed a huge opportunity tonight. They could have and should have put this Atlanta team away but couldn't do it. They'll try again on Thursday at home. I still feel confident they will end it then, but not before having to work for it.