If all the losses are going to be like the 103-102 last second loss to the Celtics in Boston, then the Official HHB High Definition Viewing Center is going to need more Tums in the candy dish.
If the 6 game winning streak was going to end, it was fitting that it be the way it went down Wednesday night, with the Hawks swinging away at the Celtics, like a tired fighter who has grunted out a 15 rounder, knowing that he has to keep dealing the licks while taking them as well.
It was clear early that the Hawks were going to have their work cut out for them on this night.
1. They were coming off a tough victory in Chicago the night before, arriving in Boston @ 3am.
2. They were still without Josh Smith.
3. The Celtics were rested and ready for the team that not only gave them the biggest fight in the playoffs, but were also atop the Eastern Conference leaderboard going into the evening.
After the tip, it was clear that another obstacle was going to be placed on the Hawks, and that would be that they wouldn't be able to play the physical defensive game that they had established over the first six games. Calls were tight on both sides, which would seem to favor the more perimeter, finesse game Celtics, whose best three players would prefer to face the basket while scoring.
Even still, the Hawks emerged with energy, even taking a 16 point lead in the second quarter. But it became clear as the game wore on that the Hawks were on their heels, hanging on as our tired pugilist, taking the Celtics best punches while sticking a few of their own.
The Hawks were dealt another blow when it was known that Zaza Pachulia would not return after injuring his shoulder in a collision with Glen Davis. That, combined with Al Horford's foul trouble in the game left the Hawks even more shorthanded and without the energy that the pair can provide inside.
In the end though, the shooting of Joe Johnson, Maurice Evans, and Marvin Williams gave the home team more than they bargained for, as the mounted a valiant charge at the end, with Marvin tagging a bold 3 pointer to take a 1 point lead with 7 seconds to go.
Alas, as has been done many times before, the Celtics found a way to get the ball into the hands of Paul Pierce one more time, and yet again he made a team pay, hitting the game winner with .5 seconds to go.
The Hawks were flatfooted, shorthanded, and playing the Celtics game---and yet, unlike the spanking this team took last season in the playoffs in Boston, this time the Hawks were bringing the spank themselves---and a last second, 1 point loss against all odds is a fitting way for this gutsy team to take their first "L".
Marvin Williams---Every year we hear about some guy adding something to his game, how it's going to benefit the team, blah, blah, blah---well, there is nothing blah about the way that Marvin Williams is shooting the three this year. Coming into this season Marvin was 25-108--so far this season, he is 8-11 and looks good doing it. And to hit the potential game winner without hesitation and with such precision, Marvin deserves some kudos for the effort.
Joe Johnson---He came out hot early and kept the Hawks in it late. In a game where in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter the Hawks were not moving the ball well and clearly tired, Johnson kept the team going, creating for himself and others. 28 points, 7 assists, and 1 turnover was a good night, even if he pulled a -8 for his 42 minutes of work.
Maurice Evans---Mo was big down the stretch, hitting a pair of threes and scoring 13 points on 4-7 shooting, despite being one of many Hawks with 5 fouls.
Al Horford---Oh Al, did you need a rest from the night before so bad that you had to commit silly foul after silly foul? Reverting back to last year's mistakes, Horford took himself out of a contest that sorely needed some life in the second half by reaching in, leaving his feet on defense, and being out of position enough to stay in foul trouble all night. This, even when Woody pulled his famous "2 fouls in the First Q= No more first half play" on Horford. For shame.
Home Cooking---Ok, Celtic fans---we know that the other team always gets the calls in your building (mmhmmm)---The game being called tight helped the older, not as athletic Celtics maintain their own tempo, get to the foul line, and get the Hawks into some serious foul trouble across the board. Hey, they are the champs, and they deserve the breaks there---and the Hawks almost had them anyway.
View from the Nest:
The Hawks get a needed day off before starting another back to back/home and home with the New Jersey Nets. The team was clearly stagnant in a way that they haven't been this season. The day off will help.
We shall see about the disposition of Pachulia, but suffice to say, the Hawks cannot withstand any more losses on the frontline.