Found May 07, 2012 on New England Sports React:
9d

Rajon Rondo driving to the hoop and laying it in against Atlanta’s Kirk Hinrich.  Rondo and the C’s dominated from start to finish, the point guard recording another double-double. 

Last night, fans got to see just how dominant the Boston Celtics can be when they’re firing on all cylinders.  The result?  A 101-79 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, pushing them to the brink of elimination.  The C’s need just one more game to send Atlanta home and advance to the next round of the 2012 NBA playoffs.  The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce, who put up 24 points in just 17 minutes on the floor on 10-of-13 shooting, and Rajon Rondo, who dumped in 20 points and dished out 16 assists.

Boston jumped on top of the Hawks right from the opening tip.  After the first quarter, in fact, they were up by 13 points at 32-19, and by halftime they were up by 23 at 64-41.  While the C’s cooled off in the second half, scoring only 37 points due to substitutions in order to rest the starters, the fact that their offense was so fluid and in-sync consistently throughout the first half was certainly impressive.  More impressive to Kevin Garnett was Pierce’s early offensive success.  “Paul was in the zone today,” Garnett said after the game.  “Nothing more, nothing less.  The zone.”

No lie there, KG.  Pierce was not only scoring at will, he was shooting the lights out from three-point range.  Going 4-of-6 from downtown, the captain hit nearly half of the team’s three-point baskets.  Ray Allen and Keyon Dooling each added two, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively; even Rondo buried a couple from deep.  The Celtics shot 42.3 percent from behind-the-arc, going 11-for-26, and posted a 51.2 percent overall field goal percentage with 41 makes.  For a series that has seen defensive intensity counter offensive productivity, the C’s performance last night was certainly admirable.  They took it right to Atlanta, and with the Hawks’ lack of passion last night seemed were able to open it up before halftime.

Not even the returns of Josh Smith and Al Horford could change Atlanta’s fortune.  Smith played fairly well, recording 15 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, while Horford added 12 points off the bench.  As a team, the Hawks shot 40.8 percent, a couple of points above their series average of 37.5, but were still no match for the sharpshooting C’s.  With a 3-1 series lead and the Celtics appearing to get stronger and healthier as each game goes by, it would seem obvious for fans to count Atlanta out of it.  I don’t usually take this route since anything can happen in sports, but considering the situation in this particular series I feel as if it’s safe to say the Hawks are all but eliminated.  Prior to the start of the playoffs, I predicted that it would take the Celtics six games to get by Atlanta.  I still agree with that prediction, believing that the Hawks will step up on their home court to stave off elimination in Game 5.  But as for their chances of winning a Game 6 in Boston?  Please, don’t make me laugh.

-Ryan Hartley

 

In case you missed last night’s game like I did, here are the highlights:

 

 

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