Celtics’ Late Comeback Falls Short As Hawks Take Game 1

Posted April 19, 2016 by Ross Wyszomierski in Sports
Celtics won't host Atlanta until game 3. Photo Credit: Richard Cavalleri

The Boston Celtics lost the opening game of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks in NBA Playoff action on Saturday, 102-101.

That final score may have come as a surprise to those who gave up early, perhaps turning their televisions off at halftime of the game. The Celtics shot a dismal 23 percent (12-of-52) in the first half leading to a 17-point deficit at the break.

Boston was able to come out of the gates hot to start the second half, opening up with an 11-3 run. The tables had turned and it was now Atlanta who couldn’t hit a shot, converting on only 6-of-20 for the third period.

As Atlanta went ice cold from the floor, Boston’s superstar was just getting warmed up. Isaiah Thomas score 21 of his 27 points in the second half, which helped Boston close the gap as they trailed 72-65 entering the fourth quarter.

The teams would trade baskets back-and-forth the rest of the game with Boston having a chance to tie in the final minute on a missed three-point attempt by Evan Turner. The Hawks’ Jeff Teague (23 points) would all but seal the victory making clutch free throws down the stretch.

Game two is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night on TNT as the Celtics look to steal home court advantage before returning to the Garden.

This is a very winnable series for the Celtics. Atlanta did not finish the season strong and should be a little worried about this up-and-coming team of young stars looking to improve on last season’s results.

One thing the Celtics will have to stop is Atlanta’s ability to stretch the floor with their big men. Al Horford (who had 24 points) and Paul Millsap can pull up from behind the arc and make shots, even though the two only combined for 2-of-5 in Saturday’s game. Boston is used to defending the pick-and-roll and will now have to adjust and play defense for the pick-and-pop to slow the Hawks’ shooters.

One piece of bad news from Game 1 that will play a huge part in the six possible remaining games will be the loss of Celtics’ guard Avery Bradley. Bradley went out of the game with a hamstring injury late in the fourth quarter and did not return. Bradley is not expected to play for the rest of the first-round series.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens (a possible Coach of the Year candidate) knows it will be tough, but gave his players the same message he relayed after the game in his press conference, “We guard, we grind, and we try to find a way.”

If you’re heading out to watch the Celtics in the upcoming week, be sure to check out The Harp on 85 Causeway just steps away from the TD Garden. The Harp is your perfect place to gather for pre and post-game entertainment and also during the game with their extensive menu and giant projection screen. They have also been known to have Celtics watch parties that feature $3 specialty hot dogs, prizes and giveaways. Check their calendar for more details about the watch parties.

Sometimes you just want to go to a bar where almost everybody knows your name. Yep, it’s Cheers, located at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Although known as a popular site for many out-of-town guests, Cheers also caters to the locals offering more than just a trip down memory lane with a wide selection of burgers, sandwiches, New England Seafood items and craft beers while providing a great atmosphere to watch any Boston team.

As always, Battery Park on Batterymarch Street promises to be a great venue for Celtics games. Now that winter seems to be over (fingers crossed) and spring has sprung, Battery Park’s outdoor patio can be enjoyed to its full extent. Fans can grab a bite in the sunshine on the patio before heading inside the bar for the game.

This series has all the components to go to six or seven games and Boston will have to steal one on the road at some point, but one thing is for sure: this team will be fun to watch.