The Celtics were down 19 in the second quarter. Down 17 at the half. But with 1:02 to go a Marcus Smart second chance lay-in (off a fast break Smart started with a steal), it was a one possession game with the Celtics down 96-93.
After Smart defensive rebound with 46 seconds left, a big possession ended with Evan Turner bricking a three. Smart committed an intentional foul and the Celtics were playing the foul game for the rest of the contest. The Celtics should not have fouled there, it was a one possession game with 36 seconds to go. What they needed was a stop.
Two Teague free throws with a little last than 5 seconds to go effectively sealed it. Thomas hit a three with .4 seconds left. The Hawks final inbounds pass was stolen by Smart, but his 75 footer fell short.
Marcus Smart took care of the ball as the primary ball handler at the start of the fourth as the Celtics knocked the lead down until a Jae Crowder 3 gave the Celtics a 83-80 lead. Shortly after, Avery Bradley left the game with a hamstring strain and the C's were undermanned from there. Bradley left the game with 18 points.
Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Celtics with 27 points and 8 assists. Marcus Smart really came up big for the Celts with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
The Hawks were paced by Jeff Teague (23 points), Al Horford (24 points), and Kent Bazemore (23 points).
The Celtics appeared to be pressing early, and settled for way too many jumpers early on. The Hawks were quickly off to a 9-2 start. Celtics got nothing going to the hoop in the opening minutes, and Stevens went small with Turner first off the bench in place of Amir Johnson. It didn't work. Celtics shot 7-25 from the field in the first quarter, 1-9 from deep. Crowder was 0-4. Not good.
The second quarter. Not so good either. I mean:
Shot chart time (oh, the horror) pic.twitter.com/299Z1xTYvv— Jay King (@ByJayKing) April 17, 2016
The Celtics went into halftime down 51-34. Jae Crowder was 1-10. A second quarter possession where he missed a long 2 and followed up his own miss by bricking a wide open three basically summed up the Celtics first half shooting woes.
Brad Stevens made a change to his lineup in the second half. Going small, with Turner starting the half in place of Johnson. Turner responded, dropping in a few of his patented fade aways and playing solid D on the Hawks frontline. A fast break layup by Avery Bradley, an Isaiah three, and a stunning no-look pass from Thomas to Turner cut the lead to single digits with 8:50 left to go in the third. The Celtics were very much in the game from there. The Celtics won the third quarter 31-21 and went into the fourth only down 7 with the score 72-65.
Photo Credit AP David Goldman Paul Colahan 4/16/2016 09:57:00 PM Tweet Edit