Atlanta was led by an incredible effort from Paul Millsap, who finished with 45 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks, but the team failed to get anything going offensively in overtime. The Hawks managed just three points in the extra period, and Boston cruised to a 104-95 come-from-behind victory.
If you wanted to watch "playoff basketball," the fourth quarter was a showcase of that. Physicality was aplenty, and both teams struggled to score early in the period. Just past halfway in the quarter, Marcus Smart suddenly found a rhythm offensively. Trailing 80-77, Smart scored eight straight points with a dunk and two three-pointers to give the Celtics an 85-84 lead.
The sequence that followed was a nice representation of how many Atlanta fans felt during the game. Isaiah Thomas took a midrange jumper, overshooting by at least two feet. The ball banged off the glass and went it to give Boston a two-point lead. On the ensuing possession, Al Horford took a midrange jumper that floated straight inside the cylinder -- only to rattle out.
The Hawks' offense continued to struggled as the clock dwindled down to below two minutes, but the the defense managed to get stops to keep the deficit at just three points. Millsap delivered again with a layup to make it 87-86. Jonas Jerebko countered with a three-pointer. Jeff Teague then countered for Atlanta with a three-pointer of his own, and then, once again, Teague hit a three-pointer to take the lead, 92-90, with 20 seconds left on the clock.
Out of the timeout, Thomas drove in for a quick and easy layup to tie the game at 92-apiece with 15 seconds remaining, allowing the Hawks the final shot for the win. That hasn't gone well in recent chances.
It still didn't go well. So, we got what everyone in the world wanted -- overtime.
Things also didn't go well to start overtime. A few bad offensive possessions and a couple easy Celtics' baskets gave them a 96-92 lead. After a possession with two big offensive rebounds by Millsap and Horford after two three-point misses, Teague finally hit one from beyond the arc to cut the lead to one point. Amir Johnson was fouled on the other end and hit one free throw to make it 97-95 with two minutes remaining.
Kent Bazemore then hit a three-pointer, but the shot clock went off before it was released to wave it off. An Evan Turner midrange jumper gave the Celtics a four-point lead as time became a factor. After a couple more missed opportunities offensively for the Hawks, Thomas hit a corner three-pointer for the dagger as the Celtics went ahead by seven to secure the victory.
For the first time in the series, both teams stayed relatively close in the first quarter. In the opening three games, the deficit was at least 10 points. Boston got out to a quick 7-2 lead, but four Millsap buckets and two three-pointers from Kyle Korver gave the Hawks a 15-11 lead at the halfway point of the quarter. Atlanta would then go on a scoreless stretch that lasted more than four minutes as the Celtics sprinted out to a 22-15 advantage. The Hawks would cut back into that deficit a bit as the quarter ended, and Boston led 24-21 heading to the second quarter. Millsap had 11 points in the period.
The second quarter was more Millsap. With Teague and Horford playing limited minutes due to early foul trouble, Millsap took on the majority of the offense and delivered in an incredible way. Trailing 41-35, the Hawks went on a quick 13-5 run in the final 2:31 of the first half. Horford's three-pointer began that run, and Millsap scored the final 10 points to give him 26 points and eight rebounds in the half. Only LeBron James and Dwight Howard have scored 26-plus points and had eight or more rebounds in the first half of a playoff game in the last decade.
In the final seconds of the half, Dennis Schroder was fouled by Jae Crowder and another chippy moment involving him followed. Crowder stayed down on top of Schroder and slid his knee on his chest for a few seconds -- much to Schroder's disliking. He pushed Crowder off of him and received a technical foul. Luckily for Atlanta, Thomas missed his technical free throw. Despite some brutal stretches offensively, the Hawks held a 48-46 halftime lead.
The Hawks went on a quick run to begin the third quarter that opened up the biggest lead of the game. Millsap added three more field goals and a free throw, and three-pointers from Bazemore and Korver helped build a 17-0 run that ran back to the end of the first half. Suddenly leading 62-46, Atlanta wasn't able to sustain the hot shooting. The Celtics countered with a 10-2 run of their own to slice the lead to 64-56. The Hawks led 73-62 with 1:37 remaining, but Boston closed on another run -- this one an 8-0 run that cut the lead to just three points going to the final quarter, 73-70.
Outside of Millsap's 45 points, the Hawks received very little from the rest of the team. Only Teague and Korver reached double figures, and they combined to shoot 7-29 from the field. Millsap finished with 19 field goals -- one more than the rest of the Hawks' combined. The Hawks shot 37-100 from the field as a team, but with Millsap's shooting removed, they were just 18-69. Atlanta's starters were a +7 on the floor in the game, while the bench was a -67 -- much of that coming from Thabo Sefolosha totaling -26 and Schroder's -20.
Atlanta will look to regain the series lead in game five in Atlanta on Tuesday.