(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Hawks were able to win the opening game of
their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Boston Celtics, but
they haven't tasted victory since and face elimination as the set shifts back
to the Peach State for Game 5.
After needing overtime to take Game 3 against the Hawks, Boston routed
Atlanta, 101-79, in Game 4 on Sunday despite the returns of Josh Smith and Al
Horford to the Atlanta lineup.
Boston shot 60 percent from the floor in the first three quarters of Game 4,
building a lead as large as 37, and led by double-digits for the game's final
"Defensive energy is really what got us going," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
"I think they had eight turnovers, maybe 10 in the first quarter. We had over
24 deflections at halftime. That's a game."
Paul Pierce netted 24 points and Rajon Rondo followed up his Game 3 triple-
double with 20 points and 16 assists, two of six Celtics to score in double-
figures as they took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After missing Game 3 with a shoulder injury, Smith returned to Atlanta's
starting lineup and paced the Hawks with 15 points in defeat.
"The early turnovers really put us behind...We had to take care of the
basketball," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "We were beaten in every phase of
the game. It started the first six minutes of the game. We did not respond
very well to the pressure, to the aggressiveness that they were playing with."
Horford, the two-time All-Star who missed most of the regular season after
tearing his left pec on Jan, 11, also returned to the lineup and contributed
12 points and six rebounds.
"I thought he did a good job coming back after being off three-plus months,"
"I felt okay, just excited to be back," Horford added. "Finally, felt good
enough and confident enough to go out there. Obviously, it's disappointing
for us to come out and lose this way, but the good thing is, is that we're
going back home. It's 3-1 and I'm sure a lot of people are probably writing us
off already. We feel pretty good about going back home."
There is no guarantee, however, that Horford will be able to play again in
"We'll see how I feel, either way I'm going to be supporting the team," the
Florida product said. "If I can play I will if not then I'll be there to
support them like I have all year."
Rivers, meanwhile, is focused on the fact that he and his team to have three
chances to eliminate Atlanta.
"You've got to just take them one at a time," the coach said. "And go out and
play your best, and if you win it, then you move on. But never look at the
finish line; never even talk about the finish line.
"You talk about the next game, and just playing well. And your play will take
care of that, and if it doesn't you've got to play the next game. So
obviously it's important if we won, but we've just got to stay single-game
In the playoffs, this rivalry dates all the way back to the 1956-57 season
when the Hawks called St. Louis home. Since moving to the Peach State in 1968,
however, the Hawks have never beaten the Celtics in the postseason, losing six
straight series (1972, '73, '83, '86, '88 and 2008.)
Boston also won two of three over the Hawks in the regular season, including
the lone contest at TD Garden.
Game 6, if necessary, is slated for Thursday back in Beantown.
The Sports Network