Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.
Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.
Jeff Teague: Really struggled to get the ball in the basket but he attacked off the dribble, didn't turn the ball over, and earned six assists without ever turning the ball over. Despite his sub-par production, one never got the sense that Teague had the ball in his hands too much. Again did a decent of job of making Rondo shoot jumpers and encouraging him to explore turnover opportunities. 5/10
Joe Johnson: 17 points on 17 shots with his only really effective quarter being the third where he made three catch-and-shoot jumpers and got a flat-footed put-back off of a Marvin Williams tip-out. That put-back was Joe Johnson's only rebound after the 8:08 mark of the second quarter of Game 5. He earned two assists and committed two turnovers. He didn't earn a single trip to the free throw line. He was a non-factor defensively. His blocked layup attempt with 3.2 seconds left defines him as a player in the context of this team, this franchise, this contract: he's not bad, he just isn't good enough to do what is asked of him. 4/10
Marvin Williams: Made shots, grabbed rebounds, didn't turn the ball over, and did a decent job on Paul Pierce. All that could reasonably be asked. More than he's ever done two playoff games in a row. 6/10
Josh Smith: Some excellent defensive possessions (including on Garnett's go-ahead turnaround that made it 80-79 Celtics). Some terrible defensive possessions. Some excellent offensive possessions (the ones where he attacked the basket or passed ahead). Some terrible offensive possessions (he took 11 jump shots, making 3). More good than bad but not as good as he, even playing hurt, could be. A rather large caveat in an elimination game. 6/10
Al Horford: Honestly, Horford was pretty terrible for three quarters, slow of foot and reaction. He came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of Atlanta's 17 points. Had he scored 12 points in the fourth (or not turned the ball over seven times), the Hawks might have gotten to play one more game. Without him, they wouldn't have been playing tonight. 6/10
Kirk Hinrich: Didn't again suffer the indignity of sitting while Willie Green played in the fourth quarter but didn't surpass his own limitations. Got stuck with bailing the Hawks out of isolations gone nowhere a couple of times and, not surprisingly, couldn't make much happen on his own. 3/10
Tracy McGrady: He made it through a whole season on a winning team without figuring out how to integrate his remaining skills into a team context. 3/10
Erick Dampier: Played 12 minutes for some reason. Grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds. Good for him. Elbowed Ryan Hollins. Excellent for him. 1/10
Jannero Pargo: Put in as a defensive replacement with 5 seconds left in the first half to guard Rondo. Seriously. He fell down in the backcourt. Incomplete
The head coach
Larry Drew made no egregious mistakes tonight but some chickens came home to roost in the form of Joe Johnson's inefficiency and narrow production, Josh Smith's jump shots, and minutes thrown away on an aged, immobile center (not the one you'd think, but still). Injuries were never his fault but the failure of the team and its players to take a harsh look at their own abilities, address their weaknesses, and play to their strengths falls at his feet. Not even a somewhat healthy Al Horford could save them in the end. 4/10
A thought regarding the opposition
Kevin Garnett was excellent. The question of who's better: a one-legged Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson? was definitively answered. Rajon Rondo was mercurial, with probably more good than bad. Still, the Hawks lost to a team that played Ryan Hollins and Keyon Dooling for much of the fourth quarter. Unlike the past four seasons, the Hawks did not bow out to an obviously superior opponent they had no chance to defeat in a best-of-seven series. Progress has stalled.