No, there is only one reason the Hawks won on Friday night - heart. No, make that Heart. It deserves to be capitalized for this team, because what they did tonight was will themselves to a Game 7 showdown in Boston on Sunday. In Game 3, the Hawks were the better team. In Game 4, it took a performance of the ages from Joe Johnson to get a win. The Celtics can look at those two games and make excuses.John Hollinger, ESPN.com:
But not tonight. The Celtics had this game. There was no reason for them to lose this one, not after leading almost the entirety of the first three quarters and forcing the Hawks to play the kind of offensive basketball that played into their hands. But once again, the Hawks stepped up when it counted in the fourth quarter, and because of that a series most people assumed would be over in four is now the only one in the first round to go the distance.
Of the five arenas I've been to in this postseason, this was easily the loudest -- a shocking turn of events for a place that could have doubled as a mausoleum for much of the regular season.Kevin Garnett:
Where all these people came from, nobody knows -- it was an arena record 20,425 of them, to be precise -- but the newfound fanatics carried the team. They quite possibly intimidated the refs too: The Hawks enjoyed a 47-25 free throw advantage and took 41 in the final three quarters.
"I've played in the league 13 years now and I've been coming to Atlanta for all 13, and this is the first time I've seen the atmosphere like this."Steve Weinman, CelticsBlog:
This team hasn't lost simply because it has slacked off and allowed the Hawks to take three games out of pure fortune. This series has clearly no longer been about the Celtics giving, and plenty of it has become about the Hawks taking.Bob Ryan, Boston Globe:
The only Atlanta leads in the three games in Boston were 2-0, 7-5, 7-6, and 8-7. It's a different game in Boston. But it wasn't supposed to be this hard. There wasn't supposed to be a Game 7 in this series because if the Celtics really were the legitimate heirs to a throne, they would have ended this thing in Philips Arena last night. They would not have lost Game 6, 103-100, to the Atlanta Hawks.