BOSTON, MA - MAY 06: Brandon Bass #30 of the Boston Celtics battles Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Ok well this will be short and sweet because really what can I say about this game that hasn't been said 100 times before about this team. Thankfully we haven't been subjected to many of these games this season but we are no strangers to them either.
You have to credit Boston for an ultimate dismantling of a team as they controlled the pace from the outset at both ends of the court. What Atlanta was trying to do at either end of the floor was never clear because they were never able to settle in thanks to the Celtics taking it to them early. Boston hit a lot of shots early with an Atlanta defender right there and as the lead grew predictably the slower the Hawks rotations became. Atlanta can't execute with Boston so to be successful they need to control the boards and push the ball to be successful. A team simply can't do that if they are always taking the ball out of bounds after a made basket.
Josh Smith returned from a knee injury and every time I got ready to say he was favoring the knee I would look at the box score and realize he was looking like the only Hawks player with a pulse. 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists look pretty good even if his six turnovers helped set the tone in the first quarter for what was to come.
Al Horford returned and ended up scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds. He looked tentative early especially defensively but it was good to see him back out there and hopefully this is the start of his recovery for next season. More on Al later.
I don't know what to make of the rotations and substitution patterns that Larry Drew employed tonight. I see little value if any in giving Jason Collins 12 minutes when his deficiencies at both ends of the court are so apparent. Yet from the outset it appeared that Drew was comfortable with going with the Collins/Horford duo at center. Playing Collins just helps the Celtics defense and forces the Hawks to play 4 on 5 at that end of the floor. Collins is much longer than Ivan Johnson yet there is no convincing me that despite being undersized, Johnson can be much more of a factor at both ends of the floor than Collins.
Once again we saw the Hawks bench left to contend with the likes of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and once again we saw a lead become a huge lead. Now perfect substitution patterns might not have saved the Hawks on this night because were that locked in. Yet for someone that has defended Larry Drew often this season it is a decision that I am at a complete loss for.