(SL) – Thursday night the Atlanta Hawks looked to redeem themselves vs the team currently fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics. Heading into Thursday the Hawks were 0-2 in their last two games falling to the Bulls and the Nets on back to back nights.
With Grammy Award winning R&B singer Monica in the building to deliver a great halftime show in front of a sold out crowd in Philips Arena the Hawks most certainly didn’t disappoint. The energy inside of Philips was on another level. Maybe Monica should come through and perform at every home game in the playoffs.
Atlanta opened up the game in terrific fashion outscoring Boston 32-24 to go into the 2nd period with all of the momentum they needed to stay on top. The Celtics were attempting to make a run for the lead in the 2nd quarter until Ersan Ilyasova made a 3 pointer to push the Hawks lead to 10 with 2:15 remaining in the half. From there the Hawks continued to play well, and carried a much needed 71-55 point lead into halftime. This was definitely unexpected. The Hawks put up 70 points in the first half vs one of the best teams in the NBA, but I guess that’s why they say to always expect the unexpected. I still think Monica had something to do with it.
The best part about this is that Atlanta didn’t slow down and let Boston back in once the 2nd half got underway. The Hawks continued to slash away at the Celtics, and were one point shy of eclipsing the century mark going into the 4th quarter.
Al Horford picked up his 5th foul midway through the 3rd period, so the Hawks wouldn’t have to worry about him making too much noise in the 4th quarter. Horford ended the game with only 4 points.
Things were looking great for the Hawks until late in the 4th quarter. The Celtics shots began to fall at a better rate and the Hawks began to turn the ball over a bit too much. The last minute of the game lasted an eternity as Boston continued to extend the game, but ultimately the hawks pulled through and came out on top 123-116 to give the Hawks a much needed victory vs an extremely tough opponent
The only time Boston saw a lead in this game was in the first few minutes of the 1st quarter. After the Hawks went up 10-7 with 8:05 on the clock there wasn’t any looking back from then on. The closest the Celtics came was within 5 points of points, and the Hawks largest lead was 20 points in the 3rd period.
Paul Millsap is back in action and it definitely shows. Most importantly it shows in the wins column. Millsap finished the game with 26 points and 12 rebounds in his 29 minutes on the floor. Hawks rookie Taurean Prince showed lots of growth in this game as he scored 20 points with 2 of those shots coming from downtown in his 40 minutes on the court. Tim Hardaway Jr added 23 points for the Hawks in this win.
On Boston’s end Isaiah Thomas did what he has done all season long scoring 35 points in 34 minutes in the losing effort.
This was a terrific win for a Hawks squad that desperately needs wins right now. The Hawks will not have any time to celebrate because they have to take on LeBron James and the Cavs tonight. That will mean the Hawks have had to take on both teams fighting for the top spot in the East in back to back nights. No problem. They’ve already taken care of one now it’s time to handle business and win this next one in Cleveland!