The Celtics did not get off to a good start in the playoffs. In Sunday’s game, the C’s lost to the Atlanta Hawks, 83-74. Their poor play in the first quarter of the game stuck with them, only to be worsened in the fourth quarter when Rajon Rondo was ejected for a technical. In the last minute of the game, Rondo bumped an official by puffing his chest out towards him after he was upset with a call made against the Celtics. Though he claims it was unintentional, he may face a suspension, which leaves the Celtics with a gaping hole in their offense. The team also played without Ray Allen, who is out with an injured ankle.
Rondo and Kevin Garnett led the team with 20 points each. Paul Pierce added 12 of his own, with Avery Bradley scoring ten, Brandon Bass eight, and Greg Stiemsma and Keyon Dooling each scoring 2 points. Most of the members of the Hawks pitched in with the win. Josh Smith led with 22, Jeff Teague had 15, Kirk Hinrich 12, and Joe Johnson with 11. Of the starting five, Jason Collins scored the least with six points.
In the first quarter, the Celtics scored only 18 points to the Hawk’s 31. They played better defense in the second quarter, holding the Hawks to 18, but only scoring 17. In the third, they added 18 more and held the Hawks to 16 points. Down by 12 heading into the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored 21 points, but with another 18 points, the Hawks held them off. At the time Rondo was ejected, the Celtics were down by four, but there wasn’t enough time to come out with a win and Teague’s last second three-pointer gave the Hawks a final nine-point lead.
The Hawks out-rebounded the Celtics 50-41, but while the Hawks had 11 turnovers, the Celtics only allowed six. The Celtics ended the regular season at 39-27 in first place in the Atlantic Division with Atlanta finishing at 40-26, second in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics won the season series 2-1, but all of the games were close.
They will play a second game in Atlanta before moving to Boston to play two at home. If needed, Games 5 and 7 are back in Atlanta with a Game 6 in Boston.