The Boston Celtics proved too much for the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday as Paul Pierce scored 24 points in 18 minutes and the Celtics went on to win 101-79 for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series. Pierce scored his 24 points despite limping off the court midway through the second quarter of play after favoring his left knee, returning before the start of the third.
The two teams will next meet in Atlanta on Tuesday with a possible Game 6 scheduled for Boston on Thursday.
With an aging lineup only Rajon Rondo and Brandon Mass played more than 30 minutes, the former who scored 20 points with 16 assists just two nights after he racked up a triple-double to turn back the Hawks in Game 3 overtime.
On the strength of Pierce’s 16 of 18 points in the second half the Celtics took an 80-37 lead with 8:13 left in the third quarter, giving Pierce some much needed rest after playing for 47 minutes on Friday, although he stayed limber on a stationary bike in case he was needed again.
Playing just 19 minutes was Avery Bradley who dislocated his shoulder in Game 3.
By the end of regulation play the Hawks never came closer than 20 points of the lead until Rondo and Allen hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open up the lead even further.
Speaking after the game hawks coach Larry Drew said of his teams performance:
“We did not respond very well to the pressure, to the aggressiveness that they were playing with. I believe we turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter. So right then and there we were putting ourselves in a bad situation. I just didn’t think we responded very well at all. We were in a situation where , I thought early, when we were missing shots, we had the opportunity to kind of keep it right there. But we had too many breakdowns in too many areas. We just didn’t respond well. I haven’t seen that type of performance from our team in quite some time.”
Do you think Boston’s dominance signals trouble for Atlanta in game 5?