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: