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: When the ball is taken out of his hands when he's playing exceptionally well, as in Game 3, I have some sympathy for Teague's efforts to force matters when things are going terribly poor and the guy who dominates the ball when Teague is keeping the team in the game, as in Game 3, shies away when the going gets tough. There's no suitable explanation for Teague's role, nor that of any of his teammates, in the defensive performance. Consider that assumed in every comment below. 3/10
Joe Johnson: Put in his place by Paul Pierce. A complete non-factor everywhere except the balance sheet. 2/10
Kirk Hinrich: The team-wide meltdown rendered the discussion of minute distribution between role players and bench players moot. That the game got out of hand while Hinrich was on the bench is the best thing one can say about his night. 2/10
Josh Smith: Deserves credit for playing hurt but was clearly limited in every facet of his game. That he was still the team's best player says more about the healthy Hawks and their head coach than Smith. 5/10
Jason Collins: It says more about Boston's limitations that it took four games for Jason Collins to be an obvious liability. 1/10
Marvin Williams: Marvin Williams ineffective in playoff game is the "dog bites man" of Atlanta Hawks analysis. 2/10
Jannero Pargo: He was on the court when the game got out of hand. Surprising no one other than Larry Drew. It's tough to score 8 points in 8 minutes and have your team go from 8 points down to 19 points down. Pargo managed the feat. 2/10
Al Horford: Despite the outcome, it is nice to have him back. After a very rusty first stint, he didn't look half bad if one considers the game context and his long lay off to negate each other. It says multitudes about both Horford and the organization that, in the playoffs, having missed four months the immediate question following the game is whether he's the best or second-best player. 5/10
Tracy McGrady: Continued in the ineffective vein of the bulk of his Game 3 performance. Were he to acknowledge his current limitations, he might be an effective role player when physically able. He does not and he mostly is not. 1/10
Willie Green: Even in a series between two mediocre playoff teams at less than full strength, Green looks out of his depth. 2/10
Erick Dampier: Garbage time All-Star. 2/10
Vladimir Radmanovic: Garbage time Non-Star. 1/10
Ivan Johnson: This is how the Atlanta Hawks reward a good regular season. If you want minutes in the playoffs, come back when you're in your thirties, take more jump shots, and don't fight through screens. 2/10
The head coach
Larry Drew pversaw a complete and utter disaster which only makes the previous games' missed opportunities more bitter. After writing about this team for five seasons, it's somehow appropriate that the game Drew decides to stagger rest for Johnson, Teague and Smith is the one the Hawks trail by 13 after one quarter, 23 after two quarters and 27 after three quarters. It's not a risk to take in close games, but rather a desperation move to ride your best players whilst one is playing hurt, one is criticized after playing the best game any Hawk has played in the series, and one is retreating into his shell. This game, unwinnable part-way through the second quarter, is the game Larry Drew rested his best players for during Games 2 and 3. 1/10
A thought regarding the opposition
Not enough good can be said about Paul Pierce's dominating offensive performance, Rajon Rondo far surpassing his triple-double performance in Game 3, Kevin Garnett's activity on both ends of the floor within the team concept, and the entire roster's defensive performance. Where the Hawks looked like the legacy of Mike Woodson's man-management with Larry Drew's tactics, the Celtics looked like the legacy of Tom Thibodeau's defensive tactics with Doc Rivers' man-management. Such an investment in coaching is not possible in Atlanta.
Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen were all better than Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, and Al Horford will ever be. Perhaps I underrate the ability to draw on past greatness when the occasion arises, but there appears to be a cultural difference between these two evenly-matched teams. The Hawks experience the events of the game, where actions good and ill seem at the periphery of their control. The Celtics recognize they can't control events to the degree they once could and focus on how they can overcome their newfound limitations to win games.
For the Hawks the outcome of the game is in doubt and that's just the way it is. For the Celtics, the outcome of the game is in doubt and they hate that fact.