I forgot to mention this in last night's recap, but the win was Atlanta's third this season against Boston, Cleveland, or Orlando (all of the wins coming against Boston but, please, stay with me here) which guarantees an improvement over last season's 2-10 record. Signs of progress should not be ignored.
What's that, coach?
"This team has grown. I don't care how you cut it. We don't have to be considered as one of the elite teams, but we're a good team in the NBA that's fighting for something."Great minds, people, great minds.
"Unlike the Orlando game, we didn't get down on ourselves. We kept on fighting, kept on scrapping and this is a big for us on the road, to be able to come back and beat a team like this."Glen Davis on his flagrant foul:
"I was surprised. I’m a big guy. I don’t feel like I did it intentionally. Really, when I was coming down, I was trying to hold him from falling. The refs made a decision. I can’t get mad and upset at them."Marvin Williams on getting fouled:
"I’ve been in that position, too, outweighing a guy by 40 pounds. I know Big Baby. He’s not the type of guy to try to hurt me. I haven’t seen what it looked like. He got me pretty good. Was it that bad? I don’t know. That’s what happens sometimes."Doc Rivers:
"I told the guys after the game, No. 1, that’s always on me. I don’t think I should ever get thrown out...I don’t care how bad you think calls are at that moment, you have to somehow try to bring yourself back in."Paul Pierce:
"Regardless of all the commotion we still had the lead in our building. So there are no excuses. I think we just failed to execute there in the fourth quarter."Ray Allen:
"That’s pretty much the turning point of this game. Being up 10, we were playing well. You figure three techs and then the flagrant and then the ball back. That’s close to tying the ballgame back up and the momentum swings in their favor."Jamal Crawford:
"I think it started with the technicals. We got some free throws and easy points. Seeing the ball go through the basket gives you confidence."As Pearson pointed out in his comment on last night's recap, Jamal Crawford was scoreless (0-4 FGA) with one assist before making the three technical free throws. He scored 15 points and earned 5 assists in the final 18:16 of the game.
Let's also acknowledge Jamal Crawford's shocking display of defensive effort down the stretch. Effective defensive effort.
Jamal Crawford played the defense of his life in the third quarter. And I am just giving him credit for the block Ray Allen's three pointer and not the ridiculous foul that was called. Speaking of credit, most of that effort probably goes to his technical free throws. So basically I give credit to Doc.Arthur Triche, aka @hawksPRman: and
In the interests of fairness with regard to the unexpected, I ceded the floor to CelticsHub's Brendan Jackson for his description of Brian Scalabrine's excellent first half defense on Josh Smith:
Scal frustrated Smith with his ability to move his feet. There was no one in the building tonight that believed Scalabrine could stay in front of Josh Smith, including Josh Smith. Watching this matchup was like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone- or if that reference is too old (and played out?), it was like watching that episode of Family Matters where Laura falls for Urkel. I’m not talking Stephaun, I’m not talking Myra, I’m talking Laura and Steve. It’s just wrong.The Human Highlight Blog provides an excellent (and too long to excerpt effectively) description of the comeback.
Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald:
The Celtics are a little too touchy and proud to admit that what they have in Atlanta is a contemporary rival.Pierce:
But it’s time to embrace all of the vitriol that this matchup seems to produce.
"We still feel we’re the better team. The year we won the (2008) championship, we lost four times to Washington. It definitely bothered us, but we’re a better team, and it will show."Kendrick Perkins:
"It’s not like I fear them. I don’t think anyone on this team fears them. They look at us like a rival, but I don’t think we look at them as a rivalry team."I'm a little disappointed Drew takes the high road in responding to those quotes but he's right:
On the one hand, Perkins is right. The Hawks play different against the Celtics. They refuse to give up in circumstances they normally say "to hell with it." They hit shots we the fans normally say "to hell with it." There is a focus that is rarely see in the other 33 games this season. Call it a rivalry or call it good basketball, but the point is, the Hawks can't think it is ok to play this way only against teams the deem as measuring sticks. The great teams treat every game like a rivalry.Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald:
Which leads me back to Paul Pierce. He may be speaking his true feelings. He probably does think the Hawks are a better team, but during the championship year, losses were not shrugged off with a wait until the playoffs eye roll. Every game mattered. Every game was a rivalry. KG made it so, and it showed. The Celtics ain't there emotionally anymore.
It would be patently improper to say that the Boston ‘T’ party in which coach Doc Rivers was served twice and assistant coach Armond Hill once was a valid excuse for the Celts to slunk away down the stretch. The most direct effect of the sequence is that the assistant coach who took over, Tom Thibodeau, didn’t make a single substitution in his 18:16 in charge, leaving the fatigued five to languish in the late going.Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:
Could it be we have seen this before? Didn’t the mid-1980s Celtics fight off the young Pistons in a couple of playoff series before Detroit finally learned how to overcome and overwhelm an aging Boston squad in the postseason?Washburn's column devolves into Joe Johnson hagiography but that's a catchy couple of paragraphs with which to open things.
The Atlanta Hawks may not be the second coming of the Bad Boys teams, in fact, they don’t have any bad boys, but they are continuing to show how fragile the Celtics can be at times and that their bid to reign in the Eastern Conference is very shaky.
Matt Moore of Hardwood Parxoysm, shamelessly quoting his own tweet, but repeated here because it's a good line:
Joe Johnson only has one of these games like he had last night every 50 or so games. But when he does, it’s like the Archangel hath come for the reckoning.HawkStr8Talk:
Coach Woodson coached a fine game tonight. Timeouts when things were getting way out of hand. Going with the hot hand over the starter and more than anything making sure that the Hawks did not let go of the thought that we could win this game.Zach Lowe of CelticsHub:
This game is our example of why we completely disagreed with Mike Woodson's assertion that you have to play a perfect game vs. elite teams to win on the road. We didn't play ANYTHING close to our best game. The Celtics shot well, they rebounded, they did some things well and yet they lost. It's the reason why you need to simply continue to grind and work despite the fact that you aren't playing perfectly. The Hawks can play less than perfect basketball and defeat the best teams in the league. The litmus test for your elitism has everything to do with the fact that you can win with less than your best. Rarely this season have all of our cogs worked at even 90% in our victories. Marvin, Joe, Josh have all had significant drop offs in production during a series of games - and in many of them...we won going away (particularly during the Marvin stretch of bad games). So, the moral is - don't teach a team that they can't win unless they play perfect. That pressure is both unnecessary and false and this game is a prime example.
I was imagining a casual Orlando or Cleveland fan tuning into this game and saying to themselves, “Well, I can’t take either of these two teams seriously. One of them switches on every single screen/roll, creating awful mismatches the opponent can exploit. The other team turns the ball over on 20 percent of its possessions. And one of these teams is going to beat us in the playoffs?”He's not wrong.
In other words: A fun game, but not a particularly well-played one by either team and one that exposed a potentially fatal flaw in each.
From the Hoopdata Boxscore...
- Rajon Rondo was 11-13 inside of 15 feet, 1-7 from outside of 15 feet.
- Even in victory, the Hawks took too many long two-point jumpers (20). Realistically, this team can't expect an extraordinary shooting night from Joe Johnson or Marvin Williams and Jamal Crawford getting to the line 19 times between them on a regular basis. Shot selection needs to improve. If they have to take that many jump shots make them be the jump shots that count for one more point when they go in.
- Not an observation specific to the Hoopdata boxscore, but I hope someone points out to Josh Smith that, in addition to getting shut down by his defense, Brian Scalabrine out-rebounded him.