Celtics jersey… check.
The only thing missing from tonight's playoff opener with the Hawks was… the Celtics. The C's came out flatter than (insert teenage joke here) and could never recover. The result: an 83-74 Hawks victory in Game 1.
It was a story we've seen before. The Celtics dug themselves a mighty big hole in the 1st quarter (31-18). They couldn't shoot and they didn't hustle. The Celtics made mini-runs in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but could never gain ground.
The C's whittled the lead to 4 with :41 seconds and then it happened. Mount Rondo erupted. Upset with a loose ball foul on Brandon Bass, Rajon Rondo screamed in the face of referee Marc Davis. Immediately upon receiving a technical foul, Rondo intentionally bumped his chest into Davis' back. Bang. Ejection. Comeback over. Game 2 suspension likely.
The ejection marred a fantastic performance by Rondo (20 points, 11 assists, 4 steals, 43 minutes). He was the only Celtic who brought his A game.
Paul Pierce (12 points, 5-19 FG) never found his stroke. Even when he bullied his way to the hoop in vintage fashion, Pierce could never build a rhythm.
Kevin Garnett (20 points, 12 rebounds) salvaged a horrible 1st half with a strong 2nd half. How bad was the 1st half? Jason Collins was manhandling him.
Avery Bradley (12 points, 4-12 Fg) struggled with his shot all night. Playoff nerves? Maybe.
The bench. What bench? 51 minutes generated 4 points. Props to Greg Stiemsma for his 9 rebounds.
Josh Smith (22 points, 18 rebounds) played one of his better playoff games. But the one Hawk who really killed the Celtics was Kirk Hinrich (12 points, 4-6 3 FG). It was Hinrich's buckets in the 1st quarter that propelled Atlanta to the big lead.