Skip to content

NBA Playoffs: Hawks stay alive against Celtics thanks to presence of Al Horford, luck

May 8, 2012, 11:06 PM EDT

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

There was a point at the end of the third quarter that it seemed like the Atlanta Hawks were going to crumble once again in the second half, but somehow they were able to overcome the turnovers and terrible offensive possessions that saw their 12 point lead with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter shrink to just two points heading into the final stanza. It wasn’t a pretty ending, of course, but it got the job done as the Hawks stayed alive at home with the 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

It’s probably not fair to consider everything Atlanta does on offense as “typical Hawks basketball,” but the ending probably shouldn’t have surprised anyone … despite it being insanely crazy. Josh Smith attempted to inbound the ball with 10.9 seconds left, but instead turned it over, giving Rajon Rondo the ball and the chance to win the game while ending the Hawks’ season in ridiculous fashion. Rondo was unable to convert on the other end due to a dribbling snafu, however, and the Hawks just barely eked out the victory.

Game 5 was one of the more entertaining games in the series — and altogether different from the first four, much to no one’s surprise — but the Hawks wouldn’t have been able to do it without Al Horford. Horford was back in the starting lineup for the first time since an injury in early January and his efforts were brilliant, scoring 19 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and adding three steals, blocks and assists while giving Atlanta a much-needed presence in the low post.

The Celtics were hot from the field on Sunday when they took the 3-1 lead in the series, but that certainly wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Boston ended up with a respectable shooting percentage of 44 percent from the field, but Rajon Rondo’s jumper returned to regularity, Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winner late in the game and Brandon Bass continued to struggle from the field. It wasn’t a particularly terrible effort from Boston, either, but if Pierce is unable to play at 100 percent — and he clearly wasn’t on Tuesday, spending stretches on the sidelines — this series is going to get harder for Boston as long as it continues.

As far as the keys to the Hawks offense were concerned, it seems that being able to put their original starting lineup out on the floor was all that was needed to get the offense back on track. Aside from the lapse at the end of the third quarter, Atlanta’s offense moved the ball very well, evidenced by the fact that all five starters scored in double-figures for the first time in the postseason. Josh Smith scored 13 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished six assists on a bum leg, Marvin Williams scored 15 points while looking rejuvenated and Jeff Teague had a solid 16. Joe Johnson probably would have hurt his standing with Atlanta fans even more had they not won the game, though, as his 15 points on 17 shots certainly wasn’t indicative of a player that recently received a max contract.

Going forward, it’s going to be interesting to see if the Hawks are able to build on the momentum as they head back to Boston. Atlanta didn’t look great in Boston, but that might change with Horford back in the mix — and Boston’s been unable to find much consistency this series, anyway, so it’s tough to tell what might happen in Game 6. Rondo has shown the ability to control stretches and, if the Celtics are going to close out the Hawks in six games, he may need to take over on Thursday night … especially if Pierce is still favoring his knee.

Latest Posts
  1. Derrick Rose: “I’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Mike Krzyzewski said Derrick Rose looked healthy at Tea USA training camp.

  2. Shelly Sterling beats Donald Sterling in court, clears sale of Clippers to Steve Ballmer

    Jul 28, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

    Donald Sterling’s right to appeal restricted, a pivotal and unexpected ruling

  3. Mo Williams agrees to one-year deal to join Timberwolves

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    Mo Williams, Shane Battier Mo Williams, Shane Battier

    Williams didn’t get quite the payday he was expecting as an unrestricted free agent.

  4. Team USA’s system isn’t changing: They plan to use quickness, athleticism to pressure teams

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    The U.S. head coach Krzyzewski watches his team against Spain during their men's gold medal  basketball match at the North Greenwich Arena in London during the London 2012 Olympic Games Reuters

    The USA has superior athletes and should use that to their advantage.

  5. Derrick Rose making vintage Derrick Rose plays at USA Basketball camp (VIDEOS)

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    Derrick Rose seems to be moving and playing like the Derrick Rose of old.

  6. Report: Timberwolves have talked to Sixers about Thaddeus Young as Kevin Love replacement

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Thaddeus Young AP

    Thaddeus Young is not Kevin Love but he’d keep the Timberwolves from going into full rebuild mode.

  7. Dwyane Wade says LeBron replaces Kobe as his new favorite opponent

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT

    LeBron Wade Getty Images

    Wade may be looking forward to going up against LeBron, but I don’t think he’s going to like how the game ends.

  8. Metta World Peace shoved two players during Venice League game in L.A. (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT

    Metta World Peace Metta World Peace

    Ron Artest made a brief appearance on a rec league court in Los Angeles.

  9. LeBron’s jersey number decision sends Indianapolis adidas manufacturing plant into immediate action

    Jul 28, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    When the game’s best player makes a uniform change, manufacturers spring into immediate action.

  10. Michael Jordan approves of LeBron James wearing No. 23 once again

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Charlotte Bobcats - Game Four Getty Images

    LeBron said when switching to 6 four years ago that no one should wear 23 out of respect to MJ.

  11. DeMar DeRozan jumps over Kyle Lowry for exhibition dunk (Instagram)

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

    DeMar DeRozan; Kyle Lowry AP

    Insert your own “he only jumped over Lowry” jokes, we’re not going to do that.

  12. All eyes on Derrick Rose as USA Basketball mini-camp begins

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Rose is expected to make the roster, but will need to shake the rust off quickly to show he’s more deserving than the other elite guards in camp.

  13. Klay Thompson doesn’t anticipate being traded, says he expects to play with Warriors next season

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

    “The fact that I haven’t been traded yet makes me feel comfortable.” —Klay Thompson

  14. Byron Scott: Lakers ‘better be ready to play some defense’

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

    Scott was historically bad at coaching defense in three seasons with the Cavaliers.

  15. PBT Power Rankings: After summer shakeups, Spurs still team to beat

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five Getty Images

    After all the players shifts this summer, the top three teams in the power rankings remain unchanged from the last one lst year.

  16. Lance Stephenson shows he’s on fire, ready for Charlotte (Instagram)

    Jul 28, 2014, 2:04 AM EDT

    Lance letting us know where his loyalties lie.

  17. Zach LaVine throws down some crazy dunks at Seattle Pro-Am (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Draft Getty Images

    The 2015 Slam Dunk Contest champion might have already been decided.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4582)
  2. K. Love (4460)
  3. L. James (4449)
  4. J. Nelson (3756)
  5. R. Allen (3649)
  1. C. Anthony (3105)
  2. D. Rose (3075)
  3. K. Bryant (2961)
  4. A. Wiggins (2709)
  5. C. Boozer (2234)