In a fantastic atmosphere that felt like the postseason had already arrived, the win gave the Hawks a one-game lead over the Celtics for the third seed in the NBA playoffs with just two games remaining on both teams' schedules.
After both teams had their way offensively for most of the game, the Hawks' defense clamped down in the fourth quarter, allowing just 16 points to the Celtics. Boston shot just 33 percent in the period and turned the ball over four times. Jeff Teague's and-one with 3:23 remaining gave Atlanta a seven-point lead, and Al Horford's three-pointer just more than a minute later was the dagger to put the Celtics away.
The Hawks got out to a quick start in the first quarter, taking a 9-2 lead at the 9:53 mark. Boston continued to chip away at the lead for the remainder of the period, and with 2:27 left, Marcus Smart's three-pointer tied the game for the first time at 25-apiece. Amir Johnson's hook shot on the next trip down gave the Celtics their first lead. With the Celtics leading 32-31, Dennis Schroder hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Hawks a two-point lead heading to the second quarter.
In the second quarter, the game continued to pick up pace with both teams scoring at will for the majority of the period. Al Horford hit a three-pointer with 3:42 left in the half gave the Hawks a 58-53 lead. Boston would follow that with a 15-7 run to take a six-point lead -- matching their largest of the game. Jeff Teague knocked down two free throws in the final seconds, giving the Celtics a 71-67 lead going to the locker room.
Boston came out of halftime with a quick run of their own. They led by as many as 12 points in the quarter -- the largest lead by any side at that point in the game. Down 87-75, the Hawks went on a pivotal 18-4 run to take a 93-91 lead into the fourth quarter. Paul Millsap was the key in the run, as he scored 13 points in the period. The Celtics shot just 19 percent after they led 87-75.
Millsap led the Hawks in a huge performance. He finished with 31 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks, three assists, and two steals. He was a +20 on the court in 39 minutes. Teague added 24 points, seven assists, and five rebounds on 9-15 shooting. Kent Bazemore was the spark for Atlanta in many ways, as his defensive intensity helped the team buckle down defensively in the game. He finished with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks on 8-13 from the field. Dennis Schroder led with the bench with 15 points and seven assists.
Atlanta shot 52.3 percent from the field in the game. They are 22-1 this season when shooting 48.8 percent or better from the field. They were also 17-33 from three-point range, making it the first time all year the Hawks have surpassed the 50 percent mark from beyond the arc. They're now 8-0 when shooting 47 percent or higher from deep.
The Hawks will be back in action on Monday as they travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. Stay tuned for more.