It was never really much of a contest in Boston on Sunday night as the Celtics pounced on the Atlanta Hawks early and never gave them a chance to recover. At halftime, Boston led 64-41.
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 the Celtics taking 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 Hawks rotations became.
There were some worries about how Josh Smith and Al Horford would play in their return to the floor, but their performances were not the reasons Atlanta lost.
Josh Smith 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.
For more on the Hawks-Celtics playoff series check out Peachtree Hoops and CelticsBlog. For more news and notes regarding the NBA Playoffs head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.