Three things we learned Tuesday night in Atlanta:
A different Pierce
The Celtics were relatively healthy going into Game 4, but they still had guys to worry about.
Paul Pierce was one of them, and there’s reason to be even more worried after Game 5. Pierce came out hot to start the game, scoring nine points in the first quarter, but again seemed to have tweaked the knee that was already bothering him. He went on to score just seven points the rest of the way, and we already know that for the C’s to win, they’ll need their captain.
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He’s been too valuable in this series to be at 50-to-75 percent now.
Game 6 in Boston
It would have meant a ton for the C's to clinch the series in Atlanta - with extra rest being the main reason.
Now, they allow the Hawks more confidence heading into Game 6 back in Boston on Thursday. And if players aren't healthy, or not ready to step up for a full 48 minutes (looking at you, Rondo), we could have a Game 7 on the road.
It was good to see Brandon Bass step up off the bench, but there weren't enough players on the C's with that mentality in Game 5. A game that was right there for the C's slipped through their grasp.
Game of Runs
The Celtics started the game exactly how everybody wanted them to, jumping out to an early 11-3 lead in Atlanta.
It looked as though they were going to run the lifeless Hawks out of their own arena. But Atlanta had other ideas, as it came back later in the first, and by halftime, a sloppy game was tied at 40.
The Hawks led by 12 points with a little over a minute left in the third, but collapsed, allowing the C’s to score 10 straight points (six by Rajon Rondo) and trail by just two going into the fourth.