Game 1 in the Boston Celtics' and Atlanta Hawks' first-round NBA Playoffs series turned out to be a close one. Although the Hawks did not trail the Celtics until almost halfway through the fourth quarter, Boston made the last few minutes of the game a tossup. But in the end Atlanta was able to stick it out after the Celtics failed to seize a crucial game-tying opportunity in the final minute.
How it went down
The Hawks soared early in the game off early scoring by Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore and Al Horford. They maintained a strong lead throughout the period, but Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner responded to keep the Celtics not far behind; the first quarter ended on a personal foul by Boston's Marcus Smart which gave Horford two free throws. The pair made it 30-19 after one.
Turner opened the second quarter strong for the Celtics, knocking down an early three-pointer to cut down the Hawks’ lead. Shots by Horford and Teague advanced the lead to 37-25 for Atlanta, but Smart responded with a three pointer for Boston. The remainder of the quarter went back-and-forth, the Celtics attempting to close the gap, but the Hawks scored their way to a 51-34 lead at halftime.
The Hawks outshot the Celtics 44 percent to 23 percent through the first two quarters, however neither team was managing to effectively shoot from the three point line. Boston went 2-16 from deep and Atlanta wasn't much better at 4-13. For Boston, Bradley led with 9 points, while scoring leaders for the Hawks included Horford and Bazemore, who scored 11 points apiece.
The Celtics’ increased momentum was evident in the third quarter. Early scores by Jared Sullinger and others cut the deficit to nine points with seven minutes left in the period. A 24-foot three pointer by Thomas then closed the gap to six, the score 62-56. The period ended with the score 72-65, the Celtics having outscored the Hawks, 31-21, over the course of the third. Boston reduced Atlanta's lead to seven after it once stood at 18.
Just over halfway through the final quarter, Smart made a three-point shot for Boston to tie the game at 80. The Celtics’ Jae Crowder then made another triple to give them their first lead of the entire night at 83-80; just seven minutes remained. Seconds later, however, Avery Bradley suffered a hamstring injury and did not return.
Though the Celtics were within reach for the remainder of the game, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague stepped up down the stretch, scoring and dropping dimes to offset Boston's scoring. The Celtics at one point had the ball in the final minute down just a single possession but could not convert, and the game ended with the Hawks just hanging on for a one-point win, 102-101.
Scoring leaders for the Hawks were Horford with 24 points and Bazemore and Teague with 23 each. Thomas led the Celtics with 27 points and 8 assists.
Next up, the two teams will meet again at Philips Arena on Tuesday, April 19, at 7:00 PM EST for Game 2 of the series. Then the matchup will travel to the TD Garden in Boston for Games 3 and 4.