Coach Bud prepares for tip during Game 1 Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
The Atlanta Hawks took the pivotal Game One in what will be an extremely exciting first round series against the Boston Celtics; escaping a raucous sold out Philips Arena with a 102-101 victory. In a game that featured immense playoff drama, Atlanta was able to hold off a furious second half comeback from the young and determined Celtics squad.
The first half could not have gone any better for Atlanta, as the team showcased its tremendous defensive prowess. Boston was held to 34 first half points on an ugly 22% field goal shooting. Atlanta owned the paint and Boston could not hit anything from the perimeter. The Hawks had a comfortable 17 point lead at the half; with everyone feeling good. However, in their previous game, Boston overcame a 20 point halftime deficit to trump the Miami Heat. Would this extremely young team have another big comeback in them? They sure would.
Boston won the 3rd quarter 31-21, and was able to cut the lead to seven heading into the fourth quarter; then were able to take an 83-80 lead in the fourth. Boston’s jump shots were finally falling, and they were able to get out and run in transition where they are extremely deadly. Isaiah Thomas (27 points) and Avery Bradley (18 points) began to take the game over, until Bradley was forced to leave the game due to an injured hamstring. Bradley would not return to the game, and the loss of the elite defender would hurt the Celtics drastically.
The Hawks shot just 5/27 from three point range, which normally does not mean good things for them. Despite all odds, the Hawks got back on track and closed this one out. Al Horford led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but Jeff Teague took the game over in “Teague Time”. Teague had 23 points and 12 assists, his third career 20-10 playoff game. When the game was tied at 88 late in the fourth, Teague had two beautiful assists that gave Atlanta a 92-88 lead. Teague kept things steady with a couple layups and clutch free throws that sealed the game. With Bradley out, Boston did not have anybody that could keep up with Teague and his blistering speed and quickness.
Dennis and the bench will need to be more effective moving forward. Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
Kent Bazemore added a playoff career high 23 points along with eight rebounds, showing just how valuable he is. Paul Millsap added 14 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Mr. Playoffs, Mike Scott added in a huge 14 points off the bench. Scott was considerably huge in this game, because he was the only bench player to even make a field goal for Atlanta. The bench will have to be much more effective moving forward. Despite the loss of Bradley for the Celtics, there is nothing that shows that this series will not reach 6 or 7 games; Atlanta is off to a great start, but Boston is not going to make this easy at all. Game Two is Tuesday at 7 PM EST at Philips Arena. It can be caught live on TNT or on FSSE with Bob and Nique! Justin Hodges @Justin_Hodges22
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil