In what started off as an ugly game for the Atlanta Hawks, they fought back valiantly, before ultimately losing in the final minutes to the Boston Celtics, 111-103.
Almost completely opposite of what happened in Game 2, the Celtics were able to get off to a quick start in Game 3 in the TD Garden, jumping out to a quick 19-6 start, and the crowd was absolutely electric.
Kent Bazemore was able to somewhat calm the TD Garden crowd after knocking down a three, followed by a Jeff Teague floater in the paint, making it a 19-13 Hawks deficit. It appeared early that all the Celtics shots were going to fall, and anything the Hawks put up would not. It seemed like it was just going to be one of those nights.
After it seemed like the bleeding would stop, it didn't. The Celtics were able to find their stroke once again, and found themselves up 29-14 with 2:31 left in the first quarter, with the Boston crowd in a frenzy once again. The Celtics were playing well, but their home court advantage was clear, and it played a big part in the first quarter.
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schröder got chippy at the end of the first quarter, after it appeared that Thomas took a swipe at the head of Schröder. The two were in each other's faces going down the floor, and as Thomas came around on a screen, Schröder gave him a bump, sending him to the ground. Both players were assessed technical fouls. The Celtics would finish up the quarter up 37-20 with the game intensity climbing.
The second quarter was much more of a back and forth, which worked in the Hawks favor. Tempers definitely cooled down after what was a controversial end to the first quarter. The Hawks cut the lead to nine at 54-45 with a 16-5 run towards the end of the second quarter, but the Celtics would take a 57-45 lead into the locker room.
Just as they did in the first quarter, the Celtics got off to a fast start in the beginning of the second half. They opened up with a 7-0 run, forcing Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout after just a minute and 17 seconds of play. The Hawks came out of the timeout 12 unanswered points, capped off by a Kyle Korver three and a beautiful Kent Bazemore drive to the basket. Brad Stevens took a timeout to stop the Hawks run.
Out of the timeout, the crowd at the Garden was once again alive, trying to help their guys break out of the slump. From there, the two teams went back to trading baskets. Things got chippy once again though, after Jared Sullinger was assessed a flagrant 1 for a foul across the face of Dennis Schröder. A made free throw and a Mike Scott triple made it a 76-71 Hawks deficit.
Paul Millsap got a flagrant 1 of his own, after fouling Jared Sullinger in the restricted area. Despite the foul, the Hawks kept going. A Schröder basket made it a 78-75 Hawks deficit with under two minutes to go, and after a drive by Schröder on the next possession and the foul, the Hawks had tied the game up at 78 apiece. Jonas Jerebko put a floater in at the last second, giving the Celtics an 79-78 lead heading into the final quarter. Isaiah Thomas had 13 points in the quarter, giving him 31 for the game.
Both teams came out swinging in the fourth. The Celtics stretched their lead to 84-80, but not before Kyle Korver answered with a three, and Dennis Schröder game them the lead with a driving layup, giving him 20 points on the night with over nine minutes remaining in the game.
The game wouldn't be complete without yet another flagrant foul, this one on Schröder, after defending Isaiah Thomas on a drive. By the time the Celtics were done with free throws and the possession, the Celtics were up 89-85. But of course, Kyle Korver answered with a three-pointer, and the foul. Unforutnately for the Hawks, Mike Scott was called for a lane violation.
After that exchange, it seemed like the game would become a three-point shooting contest. The two teams continued to trade triples, until exchanging layups. The Celtics were up 99-98 with under six minutes to go, in what was an amazing stretch of basketball by both teams.
The Celtics were able to stretch their lead out of the timeout to 104-98, before Kent Bazemore stopped the Celtics run, which appeared might never end at that point. The Hawks missed plenty of shots, and a pair of ugly turnovers. At 108-103, the Hawks had the ball, hoping to trim the Celtics lead one last time, but Paul Millsap threw the ball right into the hands of Isaiah Thomas, who made both free throws, giving him an impressive 42 points on the night, and a 110-103 lead for the Celtics.
Jeff Teague led the Hawks in scoring with 23 points. Al Horford and Paul Millsap both poured in double-digit rebounds, with 13 and 10 respectively. Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schröder also had 20 points apiece in the loss.
The Hawks will look for revenge in Game 4 in Boston on Sunday.