We continue our countdown of Hawks’ memorable playoff moments from the decade-long playoff streak.
#2: Hawks force game 7 against the Celtics
2008 First Round, Game 6
This game was simply a classic. After getting destroyed in the first two games in Boston against the top-seeded Celtics, Atlanta came home and evened the series, stunning the basketball world. The Celtics, however, responded in Game 5, forcing a win-or-go-home Game 6 in Atlanta for the Hawks.
Game 6 was a back-and-forth affair from the beginning, truly epitomizing the idea that basketball is a “game of runs.” The Celtics took a 3-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but a run spearheaded by Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, and Al Horford gave the edge back to Atlanta.
With under 10 seconds remaining, the Hawks held a 4-point lead. The Celtics scored quickly off of a Kevin Garnett layup. Mike Bibby then split a pair of free throws, giving Atlanta a 103-100 advantage. Rajon Rondo hustled the ball down the floor for the Celtics, but no play materialized, forcing Rondo to take a contested three at the buzzer. The shot air-balled, and the Hawks escaped with the victory, forcing a Game 7 that no one thought was possible.
This was the definition of an underdog story. Despite the fact that the Celtics were the better team talent-wise, Atlanta had more heart and gave Boston all it could handle. Even though Boston won Game 7 and would go on to win the NBA Championship that season, Atlanta still had proven to everyone that they were to be taken seriously.
In the immortal words of Zaza Pachulia, “Nothing easy! Nothing easy! We’re going to Game Seven baby! Game Seven! Game Seveennn!!!”