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The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly interested in Atlanta's Rick Sund for its vacant general manager position.
Trailing by two with less than four seconds to play, Al Horford split a pair of free throws and the Hawks didn't get another decent chance to tie the game, falling to the Celtics 83-80 in Game 6 of the first round and ending their season.
After trailing for the most of the second half, the Hawks took a 77-76 lead with just over three minutes to play. After another Atlanta bucket, the Celtics hit two shots to take an 80-79 lead. Josh Smith badly missed a jumper with nine seconds to play, but Ray Allen split his free throws at the other end.
Horford was fouled going for a game-tying layup attempt, but missed the first free throw. He made the second, but Paul Pierce made both for the Celtics. A full-court shot attempt at the buzzer was off and Atlanta's season was over.
It is the first time since 2008 that the Hawks have failed to make it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs. That year, they lost to the Celtics in seven games.
Atlanta led by two after the first quarter, but Boston used a 16-0 second-quarter run to open up a double-digit lead at one point. Atlanta went into the locker room at halftime trailing 47-41. After three quarters, Boston's lead had been cut down to 67-63.
Boston stretched the lead to 74-65 with just over six minutes to play and the Hawks were running out of time. But Atlanta answered with a 12-2 run in three minutes to take back the lead. Boston finished the game on a 7-1 run.
Smith led the Hawks with 18 points on 7-for-18 shooting, but he made just one field goal in the second half — a dunk to give Atlanta its first lead of the half. Joe Johnson finished with 17 points, while Al Horford had 15 points and nine rebounds.
This late miss from Smith summed up his second half, and the Atlanta offense for most of the series:
Needing a win to keep their season alive and force a Game 7, the Hawks have one half left to do so, trailing the Celtics 47-41 at halftime of Game 6 in Boston.
The first quarter was pretty even, with neither team leading by more than five. Atlanta led 23-20 after the first quarter. After the Hawks took a 31-25 lead with 8:11 left in the second, Boston went on a 16-0 run to take a double-digit lead.
Josh Smith leads Atlanta with 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting with five rebounds. Marvin Williams has 11 points, while Al Horford has six rebounds. The Hawks shot 43.9 percent for the floor and the Celtics shot 47.5 percent. Kevin Garnett leads Boston with 13 points. The Celtics have eight steals, as Atlanta has struggled to hold onto the ball.
Celtics forward Paul Pierce has a sprained MCL in his knee but is expected to play in Game 6 after participating in the team's shootaround this morning.
Pierce wasn't as effective in Game 5 and now we know why. He didn't appear to be moving nearly as well as he did earlier in the series and didn't quite have the lift on his jumpshots. Atlanta needs to take advantage of this as they look to make him work for everything he gets at both ends of the floor. No doubt Pierce will play but his effectiveness particularly late in the game could be affected.
The Atlanta Hawks travel to Boston and are once again facing a must win situation after forcing a Game 6 with an 87-86 win in Game 5 at Philips Arena.
In Game 5 Larry Drew inserted Al Horford and Marvin Williams into the starting lineup and the Hawks got solid performances from both. Horford was playing his second game since having surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle in January and played 41 minutes and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Even with the Hawks' bounce back performance it took a stop on Boston's final possession to preserve an 87-86 win.
Game date/time: Thursday, May 10, 8 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Series: Boston Leads 3-2
TV: TNT, SportSouth
A victory in Game 6 over the Celtics would be a signature win for the Atlanta Hawks in its team history.
Our own Kris Willis, SB Nation Atlanta editor and Peachtree Hoops head blogger, broke down his reaction to the Hawks' surprising Game 5 win against the Celtics, and the return - and subsequent marathon of 41 minutes played - by Al Horford made the difference for the Hawks:
Al Horford was simply amazing and showed just how much this team missed him this season. When I wrote the update about him starting there was no way I was expecting him to play more than 20-25 minutes. He told Tracy Wolfson before the game that he was sore and had some inflammation from playing in Game 4 but the situation dictated that he play.
Play he did, for 41 minutes scoring a game-high 19 points and finishing with 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. He is the first big up the floor on the break constantly and his energy was sorely needed on this night.
Horford's return from a torn pectoral was nothing short of a miracle for a sagging Hawks team that had lost three straight in the series. The missing key of Atlanta's "big three" returned for the first time since January and hit Atlanta's final two baskets, as well made a game saving defensive play after Rajon Rondo intercepted a Josh Smith pass. Horford cornered Rondo, and Smith deflected his shot.
A day after the Hawks' second win of their first round series against the Celtics - three Boston wins removed from their last victory - the greater Atlanta media is less than genuine with their praise.
Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution characterized the lead changes and maddening final minutes of Game 5 as a microcosm of the Hawks' season - a hiccuping, frustrating bout of inconsistency, where even in victory Atlanta seems destined to blow it at any second.
Like so many things Hawks-related, it was an agonizing tease. They built a 12-point lead in the third quarter, only to implode. Four turnovers enabled the Celtics to close the quarter on a 10-0 run and the lead to 66-64. They did that with Rondo leading the way and Pierce on the bench resting his sore knee.
But the Hawks made another run. Teague fed Horford inside to break an 83-all tie. The next time down the court, Horford made a 6-foot floater to make the score 87-83, setting up the final frantic seconds.
Mark Wiedmer of the Chatanooga Time Free Press framed the win with an even more cynical edge, pondering that the Hawks that showed up in Game 5 really do care about winning after all:
Could it be that the feathered fighters who silenced the Celtics 87-86 at Philips Arena on Tuesday night and pulled within 3-2 in the best-of-seven series are capable of reaching the second round of the postseason for a fourth straight spring?
The Celtics had the last shot of the game in Tuesday's Game 5 against the Hawks. Well, they were supposed to have the last shot. As good as Rajon Rondo's ball skills are, he turned the ball over in the final seconds and Atlanta won 87-86 to stave off elimination.
The Atlanta Hawks successfully staved off elimination with an 87-86 win in Game 5 over the Boston Celtics. The victory snaps the Celtics' three game winning streak in the series and forces a Game 6 back in Boston on Thursday.
The game was not without its on share of drama however. Atlanta built an 11 point lead in the third quarter and watched it quickly vanish in the quarter's final moments. The lead see-sawed back and forth throughout the fourth quarter with Paul Pierce missing a late attempt that would have given the Celtics the lead. Atlanta wasn't out of the woods yet as Rajon Rondo stole a Josh Smith inbounds pass on the final possession but some nice defense from Al Horford and Smith prevented the Celtics from getting off a shot.
Horford playing in just his second game back from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle was magnificent. In 41 minutes, Hoford finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. That amount of minutes was probably more than Larry Drew intended to play Horford but the Hawks needed every last one to extend the series.
Josh Smith finished with 13 points, 16 rebounds and six assists and came alive in the fourth quarter after struggling his way through the first half. Jeff Teague added 16 points while Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams finished with 15 points each. Williams in particular came up with a big stretch in the second quarter. Williams hit 5 of 9 shots including 3 of 6 from beyond-the-arc after struggling for much of the series.
It was an ugly half for the most part, with Boston shooting 38.5 percent from the floor at Atlanta shooting 35.7 percent. After scoring nine points in Game 4, Joe Johnson leads the Hawks with 11 points in the first half on Tuesday. Moving back into the starting lineup, Marvin Williams has eight points. Jeff Teague also has eight points. Making his first start since suffering a pectoral injury in January, Al Horford has two points and six rebounds.
The Celtics opened the game on an 11-3 run as Atlanta had trouble holding into the ball. A buzzer-beating jumper by Kevin Garnett gave Boston a 21-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Boston extended its lead to 10 points early in the second quarter, but the Hawks fought back. Four straight three-pointers in the final 2:02 gave Atlanta a 40-37 lead before Rajon Rondo tied the game with a buzzer-beating three. Brandon Bass leads the Celtics with 10 points at the break.
Here is Rondo's game-tying three-pointer.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Hawks will host the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their opening-round series in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The Celtics hold a 3-1 advantage in the series and the Hawks are one more loss away from heading home for a long offseason.
Jason Walker at Peachtree Hoops has put up an in-depth post about the questions and decisions that the Hawks will need to face if their season ends on Tuesday night. Walker breaks down what players may be coming back for 2012-13, what the team will do with Josh Smith, whether there will be a new manager and whether the team will try to find a new owner during the offseason.
The Atlanta Spirit Group sold the hockey franchise last year and then tried to unload the Hawks, though the buyer was heavily leveraged. After falling through, the group put on a brave face, assumed all costs and kept all the decisions regarding the franchise status quo for the most part, and short term success based.If they are trying to sell, there is little chance for much change until that happens, given that drastic changes to what is a stable product could mean an even-more cautious buying market for the team.
The whole article is insightful and well worth your time, so take a moment to click through and check it out.
With the Atlanta Hawks back's placed firmly against the wall coach Larry Drew is returning to his most trusted starting lineup and one we haven't seen since early January. Al Horford will make his first start since suffering a torn pectoral muscle in January and Marvin Williams will move into the starting small forward slot with Joe Johnson sliding back to shooting guard.
The move makes the Hawks bigger with Johnson at the shooting guard position and indicates that they will look to take an advantage over the smaller Boston backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins return to the bench with Hinrich likely to be one of the first subs in at either guard spot.
With their backs against the wall, the Hawks will look to extend their season in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Johnson suggested that he wants more shots after taking just eight during the team's 101-79 blowout defeat, and Atlanta head coach Larry Drew echoed the notion that finding more touches for Johnson is important for his team:
"We run a lot of things through him. He's got to be more aggressive in working to get his shots and we have to be mindful when he hasn't had a shot in one or two trips down the floor we've got to get him the ball. All the things that we do run, and we do run a lot of things where we do go through him, I give Boston a lot of credit on how they have defended him. Collectively, while they are out there they have to get him the ball more. Just watching the film in flying back last night there were a number of situations where we could have just made one extra pass and the extra pass would have been to him. We've just got to be a little bit more mindful to make sure he is getting touches."
Atlanta has another day to rest and prepare for game five on Tuesday night, and the Hawks are hopeful that they can extend their season with a home victory.
It doesn't seem like that long ago that the Atlanta Hawks looked like a real threat to knock of the Boston Celtics after a Game 1 win and a Rajon Rondo suspension. But three straight wins for the Celtics have dramatically shifted the series in Boston's favor.
But Rondo and Smith have been close friends since high school, and Rondo could see Smith was distracted and unable to drive the ball with confidence. As Smith dribbled aimlessly in the early going, trying to decide what he could do, Rondo stripped him in the front court to launch a fast break that Rondo himself brought to a halt unpredictably, like a conductor changing the tempo to poignancy from bliss.
As Peachtree Hoops points out, part of the reason the Celtics were so successful was their ability to control the pace from the opening tip.
You have to credit Boston for an ultimate dismantling of a team as they controlled the pace from the outset at both ends of the court. What Atlanta was trying to do at either end of the floor was never clear because they were never able to settle in thanks to thetaking it to them early. Boston hit a lot of shots early with an Atlanta defender right there and as the lead grew predictably the slower the rotations became.
returned from a knee injury and every time I got ready to say he was favoring the knee I would look at the box score and realize he was looking like the only Hawks player with a pulse. 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists look pretty good even if his six turnovers helped set the tone in the first quarter for what was to come.
If the Hawks can't turn things around at home, they'll once again have an early exit from the postseason.
The Atlanta Hawks dropped their third consecutive game in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics after getting blown out in Game 4 101-79.
It was a disappointing turn of events for the Hawks who came in hoping that the return of a couple of key players would give them a chance to even up the series. Instead the Hawks found a Boston team that was focused and locked in as much as they had been during the entire series. The Celtics came out on fire behind the hot shooting of Paul Pierce and took a 32-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. It would only get worse for the Hawks from there as they are are left searching for answers heading into Game 5.
Josh Smith returned to action after missing Game 3 with a knee injury and led the way with 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Smith played 32 minutes and was 5 of 13 from the floor but turned the ball over six times. Al Horford made his first appearance since January playing 20 minutes and finishing with 12 points and five boards. He looked shaky early but appeared to settle down late.
Jannero Pargo scored 11 off the bench for the Hawks and Joe Johnson finished with nine on 4 of 8 shooting and was hardly a factor as Boston clamped down on him defensively. Kirk Hinrich and Jeff Teague were non factors combining for nine points and four assists.
Paul Pierce led the dismantling of the Hawks with 24 points in just over 16 minutes of playing time. Rajon Rondo finished with 20 points and 16 assists while Kevin Garnett added 13 points and five rebounds.
The series resumes on Tuesday with Game 5 from Philips Arena in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Hawks ran into a buzz saw in the first half of Game 4 as the Boston Celtics exploded for a 63-41 lead at halftime. The Hawks were hoping to get a boost from the returns of Josh Smith and Al Horford to the Hawks lineup but instead they have been met by a Celtics team that is focused on not allowing Atlanta back in this series.
Boston jumped out to a 32-19 lead after one and poured it on in the second quarter outscoring Atlanta 31-22. Boston hit 64 percent of their shots in the first half while holding Atlanta to 46 percent. Atlanta hasn't helped themselves by turning the ball over 11 times which led to 14 points for the Celtics.
Josh Smith leads Atlanta with nine points and eight rebounds despite 2 for 7 shooting. Joe Johnson has seven points and Al Horford six for Atlanta. Horford played 10 first half minutes and is expected to log between 15 and 20 in the game.
The Hawks have their backs against the wall as they can ill-afford to return home for Game 5 down 3-1 in the series. Horford has been practicing with the team for sometime now and would bring a psychological boost to the team if nothing else.
Josh Smith is also expected to return to the lineup after sitting out Game 3 with a knee injury.
The Celtics did get some good news in that Ray Allen will be able to play for the second straight game. If Bradley is unable to go then Doc Rivers would likely opt to reinsert Allen into the starting lineup after he finished with 13 points in 36 minutes in Game 3.
Bradley is averaging 9.7 points and 2.7 rebounds this postseason and is one of Boston's best perimeter defenders. The shoulder issue is apparently something that Bradley has dealt with throughout the season.
Smith tested the knee at shootaround and will do so again before tip off on Sunday. Game 4 is crucial for the Hawks as they look to avoid returning home in Game 5 down 3-1 in the series. Smith suffered the injury late in Game 2 and sat out Atlanta's 90-84 overtime loss in Game 3. The Hawks are thin up front being also without Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.
The injury plagued Hawks hope to have Josh Smith back in the lineup when they face off with the Boston Celtics in a crucial Game 4 matchup. Atlanta can hardly afford to return to Atlanta for Game 5 with their backs against the wall and have a chance to take back home court advantage if they can steal Sunday's game from the Celtics.
Smith said on Saturday that he would play in Game 4 after sitting out Atlanta's 90-84 overtime loss in Game 3. Tracy McGrady played a season high 40+ minutes in Game 3 and suffered an ankle injury but is also expected to be ready for Game 4.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, May 6, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Series: Boston Leads 2-1
TV: TNT, SportSouth
Josh Smith on GM 4: "I'm probably going to play regardless how [knee] feels because I know the importance of this game." #Hawks— Michael Cunningham (@ajchawks) May 5, 2012
Smith said after practice that everyday of rest that he gets that his knee feels better. Whether or not that is true only Smith knows but it also sounds like he is preparing to play regardless because he knows how important Game 4 is to the Hawks.
Down 2-1 in the series, Atlanta needs Game 4 badly to prevent the series returning to Atlanta in a do or die situation.
The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 3 of their first-round series against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, losing 90-84 in overtime. The Hawks now trail the Celtics two games to one in the best-of-seven series. Though the Hawks played the Celtics close on Friday night, SB Nation Atlanta's own Kris Willis said over at Peachtree Hoops that this isn't the time for moral victories.
However, there is little time at this point in the season for moral victories not that this Hawks team is deserving of such at any rate. This team has long since moved past being the squad that hung their heads in four blow out losses to the Orlando Magic. What does remain for this team is to prove that they can grind it out with a quality playoff opponent and capture a win especially on the road.
Willis also notes that rebounding has played a big role in this series as well.
A few thoughts from Game 3 begins with rebounding. Atlanta more than held their own with Boston on the backboard with the Celtics holding a 51-48 edge. It's no coincidence in my mind that whichever team that has won the rebounding battle has won the game. It's important to remember that Boston was dead last in the league in rebounding entering the series but the Hawks depleted front court situation has negated that somewhat. I am impressed with the team effort Atlanta put up on the boards last night but they are going to have to find a way to be just a bit better.
Up in Boston, Celtics fans aren't too terribly impressed with the win. Jeff Clark over at CelticsBlog shared some of his Game 3 thoughts last night.
Ugly ugly ugly. It took overtime to break 80 points. There are some games where you get great defense. Some nights it is just bad offense. Then other nights it is just being unlucky. Tonight was a perfect storm of all three.
A play in overtime was a microcosm of the entire game: Rondo stole the ball, was running the other way with a clear path to the hoop, slipped or took a misstep, and somehow blew the layup.
The Celtics should have won this game by 20 but let the Hawks hang around and hang around. In the 2nd half the Celtics had an 11 point lead and it felt like 20. Then all of a sudden the game was tied and headed to overtime.
So, there you have it. Neither fanbase appears to be happy with the game, though Celtics fans can at least bask in the victory. We'll see if the Hawks can make this a series, as they look to even it up at two games a piece on Sunday.
For more on the Atlanta Hawks, head over to Peachtree Hoops and join the discussion.
At one point it appeared as though Game 3 belonged to the Boston Celtics. With the Boston faithful anticipating their Celtics taking a 2-1 series lead, the Atlanta Hawks played the spoiler by battling back with a 15-4 run in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter to force overtime.
The comeback was largely fueled by Joe Johnson who registered 27 points through regulation and scored the final five points to knot the score at 80, apiece. Unfortunately, Johnson lost his touch in overtime and went with it the hawks' chances of stealing the game.
Despite the valiant effort by the Hawks, the Celtics proved to be too much and Game 3 inevitably belonged to them following a 90-84 final after a five-minute overtime. Rajon Rondo played a pivotal role in the Boston win, registering a triple-double (17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists) and scoring five of the Celtics' final ten points.
Surprisingly, Rondo's most important play probably came on a missed lay-up that set up a demonstrative slam-dunk finish by Kevin Garnett that gave Boston a four-point lead with 28.1 seconds remaining. Garnett finished the night with 20 points and 13 rebounds in 42 minutes played. In addition to Rondo and Garnett, Paul Pierce finished the night with 21 points and was a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line.
The Hawks will look to bounce back on Sunday night when the team will look to even the series at two.
In the final minutes of the first half of Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, Hawks' forward Tracy McGrady appeared to tweak his right ankle while landing awkwardly after a three-point shot attempt and crumbled to the floor, needing help to get to the locker room to receive medical attention.
Prior to the start of the third quarter, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that McGrady had sprained his ankle on the play, but also stated that he would return to play in the game.
Tracy McGrady has sprained ankle. He will return to the game. #Hawks— Michael Cunningham (@ajchawks) May 5, 2012
McGrady had seemingly found a time machine prior to the second quarter of Game 3. The 32-year old vet exploded for 10 points in the second quarter alone, in addition to pulling down six boards and registering one assist in 16:43 of playing time.
Not to mention this pretty play:
Following the first half of Game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, the Celtics carry a 40-38 lead into halftime. With defense once again setting the stage, the Celtics managed to put up some points late to pull ahead before the end of the second.
The story of the half had to be Tracy McGrady, who put up 10 of the Hawks 19 second quarter points. Shooting 5-of-9 from the field, pulling down six boards and dishing one assist, McGrady played a total of 16:43 before seemingly tweaking his angle late in the stanza. It is still unknown as to the extent of the injury or if he will return.
Despite ending the half ahead, the Celtics did not play their best basketball and were lucky to escape with the lead. Atlanta's Joe Johnson led all scorers with 12 points, while Paul Pierce and McGrady both scored 10.
Check back for updates as well as a recap once the score goes final.
All 15 players participated in Friday morning's shootaround, including Ray Allen, who remains a game-time decision #celtics— gary washburn (@GwashNBAGlobe) May 4, 2012
Allen has missed the first two games of the Hawks/Celtics series after missing the last nine games of the regular season while dealing with a right ankle injury. The series is tied at one game apiece and has headed to Boston. The availability of Allen could be more good news for the Celitcs, who know the Hawks will be without Josh Smith for Game 3.
Allen fully participated in Thursday's practice and Friday's shootaround. This season, he has averaged 14.2 points and 3.1 rebounds 2.4 assists.
Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith went out of Game 2 against the Boston Celtics with a sprained knee and he won't be back for Game 3, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Hawks are already thin in the front court, missing the likes of center Al Horford due to injury.
Atlanta's Josh Smith will not play in Game 3 against Boston tonight, league source tells Y! "Knee is just too ... m.tmi.me/ptBZE— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 4, 2012
The quote says that his knee is just too sore, but suggests that Smith will make an effort to play in Game 4 on Sunday. Smith appeared to have injured his knee after running into Kevin Garnett while battling for position down low.
The Atlanta Hawks are already down to centers and could be down their starting power forward as Josh Smith will test out his injured knee in shootaround on Friday before deciding whether or not he will be able to play. The Hawks have to hope they can rise to the occasion the same way Boston did in Game 2 when they were without both Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.
Game 3 and 4 will be played in Boston and Atlanta desperately needs to salvage a victory in one of the games or face coming home with their backs against the wall.
Game Date/Time: Friday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Series: Tied 1-1
TV: ESPN, SportSouth
Allen has missed the final nine games of the regular season and the first two games of the Hawks/Celtics series with a right ankle injury, The series is tied at one game heading back to Boston on Friday.
SBNation Boston's Gethin Coolbaugh was at practice Thursday and got an update on Allen's status.
According to ESPNBoston.com, Allen participated in a full 75-minute practice, mostly working on half-court sets. Now trainers will be waiting to see how the ankle responds.
Smith, even if not at 100%, would be a huge boost for a thin Hawks team upfront who would have to cobble together a rotation of Ivan Johnson, Marvin Williams and Vladimir Radmanovic at the power forward position in Smith's absence.
Smith, in his eighth year in the NBA after declaring out of high school in 2004, is having the best season of his career, averaging 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 blocks on 46% shooting.
Zaza Pachulia, who stepped into the starting line-up in Horford's absence, revealed today that the best case scenario for his return from a bone chip injury in his foot would probably be a Game 7:
.@zaza27 says he has bone chip in foot. Timetable for 4/13 injury was 4-6 wks. He's out for GM 4 & 5 and likely 6 (if necess.).— Michael Cunningham (@ajchawks) May 3, 2012
With Josh Smith out for Game 3 with a knee injury, the Hawks front-court is painfully thin. The only healthy centers left on their roster are Jason Collins and Erick Dampier, while Ivan Johnson could have to play 30-35 minutes at the power forward position.
As a result, Smith may be ready to return to action by Game 4 on Sunday:
#Hawks F Josh Smith has patellar tendonitis. Inflammation in area but no structural damage. Doubtful GM 3, probable GM 4 vs. BOS— Michael Cunningham (@ajchawks) May 2, 2012
With Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia still out, Smith's absence leaves their front-court dangerously thin for Friday's Game 3.The only front-court player that would normally be a part of the team's rotation is backup PF Ivan Johnson, who is probably too offensively limited to play next to C Jason Collins.
For more on Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks check out Peachtree Hoops.
Smith was injured in the fourth quarter of Atlanta's Game 2 loss to the Celtics. He left the game with just over four minutes remaining and did not return. Initial reports indicated a sprained patella ligament in his knee but that has not been confirmed by the team.
Atlanta can't afford to lose Smith for any length of time with Zaza Pachulia and Al Horford both still out. The series shifts to Boston on Friday for Game 3 and the Hawks could be facing the prospect of having to play without their top 3 front court players.
For more on Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks check out Peachtree Hoops.
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Smith sprained the patella ligament in his knee.
Atlanta's Josh Smith has sprained patella ligament in knee, source tells Y! "He walked out of arena w/ no help, just gingerly," source says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 2, 2012
The Hawks can ill-afford to lose Smith, especially given that the Celtics have gained home-court advantage with Tuesday's win. Smith appeared to injure his knee when he and Kevin Garnett battled for post position, as you can see here:
Smith left the game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in 36 minutes. Watch here as he leaves the game:
The Atlanta Hawks couldn't sustain an 11 point lead and suffer an 87-80 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 2. Even more potentially problematic is that Josh Smith left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained knee and did not return.
Without Smith, Atlanta's comeback attempt fell way short as they struggled there way to just 14 points in the fourth quarter. Boston's defense once again stymied the Hawks who seemed to relax once their lead reached double figures.
Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 22 points and five assists on 7 of 17 shooting. Jeff Teague played 41 minutes and scored 18 points but was just 6 of 18 from the floor. Josh Smith finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists before exiting the game in the fourth. Atlanta didn't get much from their bench in that Marvin Williams and Ivan Johnson combined for just nine points on 3 of 13 shooting.
Paul Pierce came up huge for the Celtics finishing with 36 points and 14 rebounds. Pierce hit 12 of 26 field goal attempts and was 11 of 13 from the free throw line. Kevin Garnett added 15 points and Avery Bradley 14 for Boston.
The Hawks shoot just 35 percent from the floor and were out rebounded 45-40 by the Celtics. Boston came up with a 20-16 advantage in fast-break points even without the suspended Rajon Rondo.
The series shifts to Boston for Games 3 & 4 and the Hawks will be holding their breath while they wait for a diagnosis on Josh Smith.
Smith is questionable to return but the Hawks can ill-afford to be without Smith for any length of time in this series. The Hawks have already been battered with injuries to their frontcourt. Al Horford remains out after surgery to repain a torn pectoral muscle. Center Zaza Pachulia missed the last seven games of the regular season and also sat out the Game 1 win over the Celtics. He is listed as day-to-day but is unsure when he might return.
Smith leaves the game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in 36 minutes of playing time.
Jeff Teague leads Atlanta with 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting, including a monster dunk (see below). Josh Smith has 10 points and six rebounds for the Hawks, who shot just 41.9 percent from the floor (18-for-43).
Playing without the suspended Rajon Rondo, the Celtics are also having trouble on offense. Paul Pierce lead Boston with 16 points, but on 14 shot attempts. Avery Bradley has nine points. The Celtics are shooting 43.6 percent from the floor (17-for-39), including 0-for-7 from the free-throw line. Despite not really having a true point guard play many minutes, the Celtics only have five turnovers and have nine assists on 17 buckets.
The Hawks got off to a bit of an embarrassing start in Game 2 of their series against the Celtics when Josh Smith attempted an unnecessary reverse dunk in the opening minutes, despite being chased by a defender.
The Basketball Gods did not approve of Smith's move.
The Atlanta Hawks have a 1-0 lead in their first-round series against the Boston Celtics in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. As the Hawks prepare to host the Celtics in Game 2 on Tuesday night, they will enter the game knowing that they'll be taking a severely depleted Boston squad.
Paul Flannery of WEEI in Boston reports that Ray Allen is likely to be out again for Game 2. The Boston star missed the first game with an ankle injury and remains a game time decision, but signs indicate he will be unable to play again.
Compounding the Celtics' woes is the suspension of Rajon Rondo, who bumped an official in Game 1 and will be out for Tuesday's matchup. According to Flannery, the Celtics will start Mickael Pietrus and Avery Bradley in the backcourt for the game.
The situation seems ideal for Atlanta to take advantage and grab a two-game lead in the series.
Game 2 between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday with the Hawks attempting to take a 2-0 lead over the Celtics before the series shifts back to Boston. The Celtics will be without point guard Rajon Rondo who was suspended for Game 2 after bumping an official during the opener.
The Hawks are treading lightly with Rondo out because they know all to well that Boston is still a formidable opponent even without their point guard.
"They are a veteran ballclub. They've been in those situations where they've had players out. Certainly whether he is there or not, we can't let our guard down."
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, May 1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Series: Atlanta leads 1-0
TV: NBA TV, SportSouth
The NBA announced early Monday that Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo would be suspended for Game 2 following his chest bump of an official in the series-opener.
Later in the day, reporters got to find out what the players thought of the suspension and what it means for Game 2.
"I think it's obvious. He's a double-double. He led the league in assists. Obviously for our shooting bigs, he gets them open looks. For our shooters from the wing spots, he gets them open looks. Not having him in there, we have to rely more on (Paul Pierce's) scoring and (Kevin Garnett's) post-ups. We're just going to have to do some of the little things to make up for not having Rondo."
Atlanta head coach Larry Drew spoke before the suspension was handed down, but wanted to make sure his team does not suffer a letdown if Rondo was not going to play.
"They are a veteran ballclub. They've been in those situations where they've had players out. … Like I told our guys, this is the playoffs, and there are things that happen throughout the course of the playoffs that can change things. But you can't at any time relax or let your guard down. You have to be a team on a mission."
Game 2 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who made contact with an official late in the team's game one loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night, has been suspended by the league for one game as a result of his actions.
NBA officially announces 1-game suspension for Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. He'll miss Game 2 vs. Hawks.— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) April 30, 2012
It is a move that was widely presumed to happen, as the NBA has a zero-tolerance policy on players making physical contact with officials. Rondo's actions stunted his team's late game comeback attempt, and has left Boston vulnerable for game two.
It is likely that second year guard Avery Bradley will start in Rondo's place when the two teams continue their series on Tuesday night.
Prior to Sunday's Game 1 win over the Celtics, Hawks center Zaza Pachulia talked about his foot injury and said that his recovery was in "slow motion" and that he didn't know if or when he might play in the series.
"I don't have an answer about that. I really don't. It would make it easier for you guys, me, the coaching staff and the team but I don't have an answer."
Atlanta survived Game 1 without Pachulia and the Hawks held their own on the boards with a 50-41 advantage. It wasn't always pretty with Jason Collins on the floor but his six points and five rebounds are more than the Hawks are used to getting from him. However, the longer this series goes the more the Hawks are going to miss Pachulia.
The Atlanta Hawks survived a second half run by the Boston Celtics to take Game 1 by a score of 83-74. The Hawks struggled with their execution once again in the second half but it was Boston this time that lost its composure late.
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo lost it late in the game when a foul was called against the Celtics during a struggle for a loose ball. Rondo was hit with a technical foul by referee Mark Davis and then proceeded to bump Davis before being ejected. The Celtics must now wait for the league office to rule on whether or not Rondo will be suspended for contact with an official.
Atlanta jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter and made it hold up at the end. The Celtics cut the lead to within six in the closing minutes but the Rondo explosion helped the Hawks hang on for the victory.
Josh Smith led the way for the Hawks with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Jeff Teague added 15 points and six rebounds including a three-pointer and a runner in the lane at crunchtime. Kirk Hinrich hit four threes to finish with 12 points. Atlanta wins despite an off night shooting the basketball from Joe Johnson who was just 3 of 15 from the floor and 0 for 9 from beyond-the-arc for 11 points.
Rondo carried the Celtics early finishing with 20 points and 11 assists while hitting 10 of 18 field goal attempts. Kevin Garnett started slow but was big late finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Pierce struggled to 12 points on 5 of 19 shooting. Avery Bradley added 10 points in the loss.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night at Philips Arena.
No doubt the league will be reviewing the chest bump that Rondo gives the official after receiving the first technical foul.
The Atlanta Hawks rode a big first quarter to a 49-35 halftime advantage over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
The Hawks jumped out to a 20-6 lead on the Celtics in the first quarter and led 31-18 by the end of the quarter. Boston cut the lead to just nine midway through the second quarter prompting a Larry Drew timeout and the Hawks responded with a 9-1 run to stretch the lead back out.
Josh Smith has been rock solid with 15 points and 10 rebounds at the half. Smith hit 7 of 12 shots and has been a factor at both ends of the floor. Joe Johnson added 10 points and five assists while Jeff Teague has seven.
Rajon Rondo has 12 points and four assists on 6 of 9 shooting. Paul Pierce added nine points and Avery Bradley eight for the Celtics. Kevin Garnett had a forgettable first half with two points and six rebounds but is just 1 of 9 from the floor.
Atlanta shot 49 percent in the first half and held the Celtics to just 37 percent. The Hawks are 4 of 11 from three point range while the Celtics are 0 for 7. Atlanta holds a 26-18 rebounding advantage at the break.
The Atlanta Hawks couldn't have gotten off to a better start than they have against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Atlanta has looked like the younger and fresher team while building a lead in the first quarter.
Atlanta has taken every opportunity to get out in transition where they have not struggled to finish plays like this one from Marvin Williams.
Josh Smith has nine early points and Joe Johnson is close behind with seven for the Hawks. Boston would be really in trouble if not for Rajon Rondo who has 10 points for the Celtics. Kevin Garnett has just two points and is 1 for 7 from the field in the first quarter. The Hawks hit 55 percent of their shots in the first quarter while holding the Celtics to just 40 percent.
Ray Allen is out according to Doc Rivers #celtics— gary washburn (@GwashNBAGlobe) April 29, 2012
Allen was listed as a game-time decision and came out and attempted to go through his pregame ritual on the floor. The decision was made after that to hold him out of Game 1. Allen has been battling an ankle injury that is going to require surgery as soon as the Celtics' season ends.
Allen had given way to Avery Bradley in the starting lineup but Boston will miss his scoring punch off the bench with the second unit. The Hawks will be without centers Zaza Pachulia and Al Horford for Sunday's Game 1.
It was thought that Drew might decide to go with a smaller lineup since the Celtics have been going with Kevin Garnett at center. Playing Collins, who is not an offensive threat, against a great defensive team like the Celtics seems like an odd decision. Will be interesting to see how long he sticks with it and how much Collins actually plays in the game.
This is the reason why Tracy McGrady was signed to be a member of the Atlanta Hawks.
The former phenom superstar of the Orlando Magic he isn't, but there are occasions where McGrady will show the flashes of greatness that made him a beloved NBA superstar. Nowadays, the Hawks just hope that McGrady can consistently come out and perform, bring more positive plays than negative ones.
"I'm excited about being a valuable part of this ball club. Yeah, I'm not that guy averaged 28, 29 points in the playoffs. But I'm still a valuable piece that comes off this bench. Considering it's my first year ever coming off the bench, it's a very uncomfortable role that I just wasn't familiar with and didn't really know how to approach it mentally. When you are playing inconsistent minutes . . . I'm not just built that way. That's why I think over the last couple weeks I've been more comfortable is because my minutes have been consistent. That's what it was all about. All I wanted was to have consistent minutes is to get me comfortable on the basketball games.
I'm not-and this is not a diss by any means to nobody-I'm not a guy like a Jason Terry or a James Harden that can come off the bench and right away and get to scoring. I read the game. I feel the game. I get guys involved, then that's how I get myself going. I think some people look at that as not being aggressive or not being valuable. But I see the game, I feel the game, and it's far from the truth. Just being able to know the flow of the game, I play with guys that can score, and can pass to guys spread around the perimeter that can shoot the ball. It's all about getting those guys going and then I pick my spots when it's time for me to score. I'm not that guy who is taking 15 to 20 shots." -- Tracy McGrady
Confirming what was already thought, the Atlanta Hawks will be without center Zaza Pachulia for Game 1 of their first-round series with the Boston Celtics. Pachulia was still in a walking boot on Sunday and Hawks coach Larry Drew said that the center would not be available for tonight's game.
Drew also told the AJC's Michael Cunningham that he had not settled on a starting lineup for tonight's game. The Celtics are likely to start Kevin Garnett at center and Drew has the option of going with Jason Collins in the pivot or going small by inserting either Marvin Williams or Ivan Johnson into the starting lineup.
Doc Rivers dubbed Ray Allen 50/50; said if he's able to get through pregame routine, he thinks he'll play (was unable last two times)— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) April 29, 2012
Chris Forsberg reports that Allen will attempt to go through his pregame routine and if he is successful then he would likely come off the bench for Boston in Game 1. Allen however has been unsuccessful his last two times out at getting through his pregame routine.
Allen is battling an ankle injury that will require surgery once the playoffs are over and the Celtics' season comes to an end.
Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia did not practice on Saturday and is officially listed as a game-time decision for Sunday's Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Pachulia however is doubtful to play because of a foot injury that cost him the final seven games of the regular season.
Pachulia was to have his foot re-examined this weekend although there have been no reports of when that was to take place. Some improvement was reported on Thursday after the Hawks' regular season finale and Atlanta is hopeful that he can return to the lineup at some point during the series.
The Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics begin their first round playoff series on Sunday at Philips Arena.
The Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics meet in Game 1 of their 2012 NBA Playoffs first-round series Sunday at Philips Arena.
While the Hawks have their own injury concerns the Celtics have a few of their own. It is looking more and more unlikely that Ray Allen will be available for Sunday's Game 1 as he is still battling the effects of an ankle injury according to WEEI's Paul Flannery.
Allen will make the trip to Atlanta, but it's looking less and less likely that he'll be able to play.
"Honestly I don't think he'll play [Sunday]," Doc Rivers said. "We'll find that out. He's just not moving well."
Allen also said that he would get surgery on the ankle tomorrow if not for the playoffs so anything that Celtics get from him may need to be viewed as a bonus. Avery Bradley replaced Allen off the bench but there is no doubt that Boston will miss Allen's long distance shooting if he is unable to play.
Atlanta Hawks rookie Ivan Johnson was named as the NBA's Rookie of the Month for April after averaging 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds this month. Johnson led all rookies in steals averaging 1.45 per game. He also led all first-players with a .582 shooting percentage for the month.
Johnson has gone from training camp afterthought to somewhat of a cult hero with the Hawks this season. Not only did Johnson make the team he played a huge part especially down the stretch where he filled in as the back up center.
Johnson has appeared in 56 games for the Hawks this season and is averaging 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest. With the status of Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia in doubt for the first-round of the playoffs, the Hawks will be counting on Johnson to continue his recent good play.
When we last received word, Thursday morning, on the ligament strain in Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia's left foot, an injury that had kept him out for six games, it looked like Hawks coach Larry Drew might be forced to match up against the Celtics and Kevin Garnett with Josh Smith at the five.
Thursday night, Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer Michael Cunningham tweeted some hopeful news for Hawks fans:
Zaza Pachulia says 'significant progress' in rehab on L foot. 'Swelling is down. Day-to-day. See how it goes.'— Michael Cunningham (@ajchawks) April 27, 2012
A healthy Pachulia can only increase the Hawks' chances of making the second round, which will be needed if they want to see Al Horford on the court again this year.
The Atlanta Hawks finished the season strong, taking seven of their last 10 games, and their reward will be home court advantage in a first-round series against the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics.
The Hawks (40-26) and Boston (39-27) have faced off in the playoffs only once since 1988, a 2008 series in which an 8th seeded Atlanta pushed the soon-to-be Finals winning Celtics to seven games. This Hawks squad is a good deal more seasoned than that one, but won't have center Al Horford available unless they advance further into the playoffs.
The full series schedule is as follows:
GAME 1 (Sunday, April 29, in Atlanta) - 7 ET (TNT)
GAME 2 (Tuesday, May 2, in Atlanta) - 7:30 ET (NBA TV)
GAME 3 (Friday, May 4, in Boston) - 7:30 ET (ESPN2)
GAME 4 (Sunday, May 6 in Boston) - 7 ET (TNT)
GAME 5 (Tuesday, May 8 in Atlanta) - TBD (TV to be determined)
GAME 6 (Thursday, May 10 in Boston) - TBD (TV to be determined)
GAME 7 (Saturday, May 12 in Atlanta) - TBD (TNT)
The remaining playoff schedule will be announced following tonight's schedule of games. With a win over the Dallas Mavericks tonight the Atlanta Hawks can secure home court advantage meaning that Sunday's game would take place at Philips Arena. Atlanta can also secure home court if Boston loses its Thursday night matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. A Hawks loss combined with a Boston win however would give the Celtics four home games in the potential seven game series.
According to a report by the New York Times' Howard Beck, the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics will begin their first-round playoff series on Sunday.
Sunday games will be Bos-Atl, Utah-SA, LAC-Mem and TBD-vs-Lakers. Saturday: TBD-vs-Chi, TBD-vs-Mia, TBD-vs-OKC, Orl-Ind.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) April 26, 2012
The location for Game 1 won't be known until after tonight's games. Atlanta can nail down home court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs with a win over the Dallas Mavericks or a Boston loss to Milwaukee. The Celtics are guaranteed to slide no lower than the fourth seed due to their winning the Atlantic Division but home court is determined by the better record. Atlanta enters play tonight with a one game lead over Boston. The Celtics however hold all of the tiebreakers.
The Atlanta Hawks could be down two centers when they open their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics this weekend. Al Horford says that he will miss the first-round series and Zaza Pachulia is also uncertain to be ready by this weekend as he recovers from a foot injury.
Pachulia has missed the last six games and will not play on Thursday against the Mavericks. He suffered a sprained ligament in his foot earlier this month against the Orlando Magic. He had been listed as day-to-day by the team and seems to be progressing but has not returned to action. Pachulia is scheduled to be re-examined this weekend and no doubt the Hawks will have their fingers crossed.
If Pachulia is unable to suit up against Boston, Larry Drew may be pressed into going with a small lineup with Josh Smith matched up with Kevin Garnett at the center position. Drew went with that lineup earlier against the New York Knicks when Amare Stoudemire got the start at center.
While Al Horford's recovery from a mid-season pectoral injury has gone about as well as could be expected, it won't be quick enough for the Hawks All-Star C to return for their first-round series against the Boston Celtics:
Atlanta has survived his absence in the regular season, but his presence would have been huge against Boston in the first round, especially given how undersized the Celtics are at that position.
For all the latest news and notes on the Hawks playoff run, head on over to Peachtree Hoops.
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