There is a sign outside the Atlanta Hawks' locker room, large and bold and impossible to miss. It reads, "Talent wins games. Defense wins championships."
Unfortunately, for Larry Drew's limping squad, they head to Boston for Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs short of both.
The Celtics came back from an 11-point deficit to capture Game 2 in Atlanta and even the series 1-1, not because of Doc Rivers' inspirational coaching or superhuman basketball by any member of the team: they won because the Hawks don't have a big man and can't push the tempo for four solid quarters.
Al Horford should have been that guy, the solid presence underneath that added an invaluable dimension to the defense. But Horford has been, and will continue to be, out with a torn left pectoral muscle (which is as painful as it sounds).
Horford's replacement Zaza Pachulia is no two-time All Star, but he was once a dozen-points-a-night guy, so there was no great worry. Then Pachulia went down with the sprained foot (...