After a game one in which the Hawks blew a 19-point lead and yet still managed to show poise down the stretch and pull out the win there is a lot of excitement for game 2 and the remainder of the series. The Hawks were dominant in the first half getting out to a 51-34 lead at intermission. That lead was methodically cut into by the gutsy Celtics and after a Marcus Smart 3 pointer they found themselves ties at 80 with 7:22 remaining. A possession later followed with a Jae Crowder 3 and the Celtics had an improbable 83-80 lead. The Hawks refused to break and were able to regain the lead and hold the Celtics at bay thanks in large part to point guard Jeff Teague’s ability to run the pick and roll while executing down the stretch. The stage is now set for an intriguing game 2 in which the Celtics will be looking to steal home court advantage.
The Celtics already had an uphill battle trying to beat a tough Hawks team on the road. Now it looks like they will have to do it without their best perimeter defender and starting shooting guard in Avery Bradley. He is listed as doubtful to return in the series with an injured hamstring that he told people he heard “pop” during game 1. With the Hawks being a strong pick and roll team the loss of a teams best perimeter defender is a nightmare. He also scores 15 points per game for a team that can struggle on offense and had 18 points in game 1. Crowder finished with an impressive stat line of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. Isiah Thomas continued to show he is aongst the games best point guards with 27 points and 8 assists. Marcus Smart, who will likely replace Bradley in the starting lineup had 15 points and 5 rebounds and made several clutch plays late in the game. Evan Turner was had a strong game in his 34 minutes with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. The roles of Smart and Turner are certain to increase in Bradley’s absence.
The Hawks rely heavily on their starters as all 5 player 30 plus minutes. Al Horford led them in scoring with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Kent Bazemore had a spectacular game with 23 points and 8 rebounds. Teague was steady and precise with 23 points, 12 assists, and 4 rebounds. Paul Milsap and Mike Scott each had 14. Scot’s 14 was all but 2 of the 16 total points scored by the Hawks reserves.
Game 2 is a tough one to call. The Celtics have the momentum as they came back from a large deficit however they still lost the game. They will also have to win without Bradley. The Hawks will be looking to keep their home court advantage and not give the Celtics any momentum. The key to the game may be which team can find some production from its bench.
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