One that got away…
So after watching the Celtics/Hawks Game 1 last night, did I change my mind about the series? Probably not, especially if Avery Bradley misses significant time with his hamstring injury.
But looking back, this is one the Celtics should have stolen. Sure, they only shot like 23% in the first half and scored a total of 34 points. Pretty brutal. Dug themselves a big hole, being down 17 at the half.
But the shots were largely open looks. If even a couple more of those went down, it could have resulted in a different outcome. I know, shoulda, woulda, coulda…but it ended up being a one point difference after all.
Regardless of how the game started, the Celtics actually took a lead late and were in position to steal the game and thus also home court advantage. But they went dry again within the last 5 minutes and couldn’t close the deal. If anything, this is a bigger concern than the first half performance. Last year against the Cavaliers, the C’s were in most of the games. But they could never find a way to get over the hump. I don’t remember too many late leads in those games, but either way, they were close and got zero wins.
I know these are two different years, two different opponents and all that. But out of the top 10 in the player rotation, it’s 9 of the same guys. With Brandon Bass last year and Amir Johnson this year being the 10th, you may as well say it’s the same 10 guys. Also, Brad Stevens is now 0-5 in the playoffs. Just makes you wonder, can these guys get over the hump and get it done?
I’m certainly not going to panic about this one game, so I think they can. Getting that first win will go a long way towards that. And it will be tougher without Bradley. Now we will likely see more of R.J. Hunter (3 useless minutes last night) and Terry Rozier (no minutes yesterday and when he does play, call him just a little bit wild). Add in the fact that Jonas Jerebko played at least 12 minutes more than he should have (17 minutes played), then you have too many guys that shouldn’t be playing on the floor.
One thing I may have miscalculated? It appears the Celtics have to worry about Kent Bazemore more than I anticipated. He seemed to be flying around and got to the line 10 times. Well, maybe getting to the line that much was easy, since the Hawks got there 35 times compared to the Celts’ 19. There were some ticky-tack calls for sure, however, I am not going to get too fired up about it. Atlanta was at home so they will naturally get more calls, fair or not. And the C’s shoot a ton of jump shots, so it’s not like they were driving the lane regularly, getting butchered and not getting calls. Surely would have liked to see the attempts a smidge closer, but…it is what it is…
The C’s seemed to neutralize Paul Millsap a bit, so that was encouraging. Al Horford and Jeff Teague did about what I expected (as did Kyle Korver on the negative side). Mike Scott inexplicably had a moment or two, but the Hawks bench performed worse than expected. Maybe it’s because by the time they got in, the Celtics decided to start playing some defense. Stevens himself said the team “played pretty good defense for the last 42 minutes,” so that’s another encouraging sign.
I also expected the rebounding advantage to be more in Atlanta’s favor. For one, because it seems the Hawks have better rebounders in general. For two, the Celtics play smaller lineups a lot and did so again tonight. For three, the C’s were throwing up plenty of bricks, especially as we said, in the first half. But Atlanta’s edge was only 53-50. Hopefully that bodes well…but it could be only a one game thing of course.
All in all, even with the atrocious start to the game and the resulting loss, this isn’t a time to fret. Even without Bradley, the Celtics should still make this a competitive series, if not win the damn thing. The Hawks have some talent, but they are a beatable team…from what I saw from one game anyway. If Millsap blows up for 40 Tuesday night, then all bets are off. But if the C’s keep up the defensive intensity and do it for 48 minutes, they can still make some things happen.
All we can do is see what happens Tuesday night…
Posted on April 17, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, basketball, Boston Celtics, Game One, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jeff Teague, Kent Bazemore, Marcus Smart, NBA, NBA playoffs, Paul Millsap. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.