Hawks Hold On for Game 1 Win
The Hawks raced out to a 20-6 lead and never trailed as they posted an 83-74 in Game 1 of their opening round match-up with the Boston Celtics on Sunday night at the Highlight Factory. Josh Smith was huge for the Hawks from start to finish, turning in a big double-double with 22 points and 18 rebounds.
“We said early we really wanted to dictate the rhythm of the game of getting out and running and exploring what we had in transition,” Atlanta head coach Larry Drew said after the win. “If it wasn’t there, then we ran our secondary offense.”
Atlanta’s guard tandem of Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich was accurate from behind the arc, combining to hit 6-of-8 from long range. They hit three triples in the first quarter to help the Hawks establish their big lead.
The Celtics, as expected, did not go quietly despite the early deficit. After the Atlanta lead swelled to 19 points in the third quarter, Boston made one last push and got as close as four points in the closing minutes.
“We knew they were going to be able to calm their nerves down and be able to get back to the way they play basketball,” said Josh Smith postgame. “We didn’t feel the pressure of needing to get a bucket. That’s just us being able to be in the playoffs multiple years and understand situations. We dug ourselves out of holes when the right time presented itself.”
The Hawks did this all without much offensive production from Joe Johnson. Joe was limited to just one point in the second half, finishing the game with 11. He did play stellar defense the entire night, holding Paul Pierce to just 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting. The encouraging thing must be that Atlanta was still able to secure the victory when Joe had an off night.
The two teams will return to action on Tuesday night at the Highlight Factory, and the Hawks will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series before it moves to Boston later in the week.
– The Hawks led from start to finish, knocking off the Celtics 83-74 at Philips Arena on Sunday to take a 1-0 series lead.
– Josh Smith led the way with 22 points and postseason career-best 18 rebounds … Jeff Teague scored 15 points, Kirk Hinrich 12 and Joe Johnson 11.
– Atlanta opened the game on a 20-6 run, pushed the lead to as many as 17, before settling for a 31-18 edge after one … Both teams played solid defense in the quarter but the Hawks won the stanza, 18-17, to take a 49-35 advantage at the break (after being up 19).
– Boston managed to cut it to 65-53 after three and 78-74 with one minute to play, but Johnson, Smith and Teague all hit clutch free throws down the stretch to ice it for the home team.
– The Celtics finished 0-11 from three-point range and shot .390 overall … Atlanta won the battle of the boards 50-41.
– Kevin Garnett (20 points\12 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (20 points\11 assists) each had double-doubles for the Celtics.
– The Hawks reserves outscored their Boston counterparts 17-4.
– Game 2 is set for Tuesday (5\1) at Philips Arena at 7:30pm (SPSO HD, NBA TV and 98.9 FM).