Archives For Brad Stevens

The Atlanta Hawks are now on the brink of a second round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they blew out the Celtics 110-83 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. The Celtics were led by Evan Turner’s 15 points while the Hawks were led by Mike Scott’s — yes, Mike Scott’s Game 5 game high — 17 points. The scene now shifts to Boston for Game 6 where the Hawks will have the chance to close out the Celtics for good on Thursday night.

Limiting Isaiah Thomas

Heading into Game 5, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t just the top scorer of this series, but the top scorer of the entire playoffs, averaging 28 points. After he averaged 35 points between Games 3 and 4, the Hawks had an adjustment waiting for Thomas. A lot more trapping and double team action.

They basically forced Thomas to give up the ball and said to the other Celtics “Hey, you go make a play, you make this shot”.

And the Hawks set this tone very early in the game. Here, they try to trap Thomas by extending the double team near the halfway line. Thomas is forced to give the ball up, forcing Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson to try and make a play. In the end, Johnson gets tied up with Bazemore for a jump ball.

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In what was a defensive — and at times ugly — affair the Atlanta Hawks triumphed (89-72) over the Boston Celtics to take Game 2 and, with it, a 2-0 series lead in the first round. Kyle Korver and Al Horford both notched 17 points for the Hawks, while Isaiah Thomas led the way with 16 points for the Celtics.

First quarter blitz

In the last few games before the playoffs began, and Game 1 of this series, the Boston Celtics have been known to start the game off very slowly and this has left themselves facing an uphill battle from the very early stages of the game. That trend continued in Game 2, as the Hawks bolted out of the gates to take a 24-3 lead in the first seven minutes, eventually ending the first quarter with a 24-7 advantage (despite not scoring in the final 5:28).

The two teams would score the exact same number of points in the final three periods (65) so, in the end, the difference in this game was the first quarter. There were a few reasons why the Hawks blitzed the Celtics in the first quarter, let’s start with the Hawks defense, which fuelled everything else and set the tone for the rest of the game.

This was one of the first defensive possessions of the game. The Celtics try to run their offense, and it ends up with Jae Crowder attempting to get the ball over to Marcus Smart. Kent Bazemore reads the play, picks off the pass, and gets out in the open floor. He turns down the option to set up Kyle Korver and gets the friendly toilet rim roll on his three-point attempt.

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During Game 1, Celtics guard Avery Bradley suffered a hamstring injury mid-way through the fourth quarter. He tried to walk off the court by himself but was unable to do so, needing help to get back the Celtics dressing room.

The diagnosis, as given by head coach Brad Stevens, the following day was the one Celtic fans feared — Bradley is doubtful for the remainder of the series.

“The update on Avery is Avery has a pretty significant strained hamstring. I would say would be doubtful for any of the remainder of the series, certainly very unlikely Tuesday night (for Game 2). As of right now I would say he’s out Tuesday night, but obviously he’ll continue to get treatment around the clock and go from there. So I would say very unlikely the rest of the series.” — Coach Brad Stevens

Devastating news for the Celtics, but what does it mean for the series going forward?

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