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: The Hawks needed every bit of offensive efficiency they could muster and every miss they could encourage from the Celtics. Teague scored 16 points on 11 shots, earned five assists against 3 turnovers and again had a role in many of Rajon Rondo's 11 misses and 5 turnovers. 7/10
Joe Johnson: He got his touches, generally to the team's detriment. There was almost a one-to-one correlation between Joe Johnson dribbling and the Hawks having an empty possession in the second half. He's not a bad player, just overmatched as a shot creator against a good defense.
Four points on six shots (and no free throw attempts), two assists against a turnover, and zero rebounds while playing the entire second half. The other four starters scored 43 points on 25 shots, got to the line 10 times and earned 10 assists in the second half. If Al Horford doesn't bail him out with a runner to put the Hawks up 87-83, this recap could have a very different tenor.
Another mediocre defensive performance, but it included a good, meaningful challenge on Paul Pierce's airball. 4/10
Marvin Williams: He caught a break by getting to defend a gimpy Paul Pierce and generally gets a pass for Garnett posting him up because Marvin Williams shouldn't be asked to guard Kevin Garnett in a playoff game. Caveats out of the way, 15 points on 9 shots is huge in this series and most unexpected given Williams' playoff history. 7/10
Josh Smith: Deserves credit for toughing it out on one leg to grab 16 rebounds and earn six assists, but has to take responsibility for the bad decisions he made: six jumpers and six turnovers, none worse than that on the final inbounds pass. I don't expect this injury to get any better for him, so he needs to adjust to his temporary physical diminishment. 6/10
Al Horford: 19 and 11 in his first full game back. Three assists and three steals and three blocks. 17 second half points on 10 shots. Lockdown perimeter defense on Rondo to finish the game before the final turnover could end the Hawks' season. Once again asserted himself as the team's best player with actions during the game rather than words before. 9/10
Kirk Hinrich: Had a really nice first half stint, knocking down three shots in just under seven minutes and playing respectable defense. For some reason, Willie Green got the reserve guard minutes in the second half. 4/10
Tracy McGrady: It's been about 40 minutes since he last scored in this series. 1/10
Willie Green: Six-and-a-half odd, impact-free minutes. Unless you count the 11 points the Hawks were outscored by with Green on the court. 1/10
Erick Dampier: Entered the game with 3:42 left in the first quarter. Made a shot. Played a little more. 2/10
Jason Collins: His 10 second appearance as a defensive sub for Al Horford was an absurd bit of tactics. Incomplete
Ivan Johnson: His 10 second appearance as a defensive sub for Tracy McGrady only poured salt on the wound of the 15 ineffective minutes McGrady and Dampier played in his stead. Incomplete
The head coach
Pros: Got over his mooted minutes limit for Al Horford early and necessarily. Played his four best players at least 40 minutes each. Didn't play Jannero Pargo at all. Motion offense looked sublime for much of the second half. Excellent play call coming out of a timeout led to Horford dunk, ending 7-0 Boston run and putting the Hawks up 85-83 with 2:220 left.
Cons: Played Erick Dampier in the first quarter. Preferred Willie Green to Kirk Hinrich in the second half. Let Joe Johnson dribble away many a second half possession despite the exact opposite working a treat repeatedly. Team couldn't inbound the ball successfully in two tries on the final possession. 7/10
A thought regarding the opposition
If the Celtics were a good offensive team, this game could have been over before halftime. If the Celtics were a good offensive team, they wouldn't be the fifth seed in the East. With the teams so evenly matched (even the injuries seem to happen at times to keep the teams tight), I'm not sure if home court means anything. Or maybe it means more than normal. Either way, first team to 80 will win again on Thursday and whichever team has two stretches where they make shots as opposed to the other team's single stretch will win the game.