The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Boston Celtics 104-92 in Game 6 Thursday night to clinch the series 4-2 and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
With all five Hawks starters scoring in double digits, it was a clinical performance from Mike Budenholzer’s team which kept Celtics to below 20 points in the first two quarters, before scoring a playoff-high 39 points in the third quarter to take an 80-59 lead going into the final quarter. Though the Celtics scored 33 points in the fourth, they couldn’t produce enough to extend the series. |Final Box Score|
Hawks block shots…
Here’s a stunning static from the game: The Hawks starters had a combined 11 blocks while the entire Celtics squad had a combined 4 rejections. Paul Millsap (17 points, 8 rebounds) led the way with 4 blocks, Al Horford (15 points) had 3 while Kent Bazmore and Kyle Korver had a couple. Atlanta proved why they are one of the most efficient defensive units in the league, clogging the lanes and not allowing Celtics guards Isiah Thomas and Evan Turner to drive and dictate terms.
Thomas, who started the game despite a left ankle sprain, had a horrific shooting night, going 9-24 from the field and 1-7 from deep for his 25 points. On paper, Thomas had a double-double with 25 points and 10 assists. However, his inability to knock down open jump shots hurt the Celtics. Also, Evan Turner shot 4-17 from the field and 0-4 from deep for his 8 points and 7 rebounds.
Smart, the only positive
Marcus Smart (13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) was the only positive for the Celtics, coming off the bench and playing lockdown defense. However, Smart failed to hit all three attempts from deep, as the Celtics went a combined 7-32 from deep and 36-94 overall. They shot just 36% from the field Thursday – a telling number in the final equation. Simply put, not many teams will win playoff games while shooting that poorly.
In the end, Boston Celtics still had a pretty reasonable season, winning 48 games and pushing the formidable Atlanta Hawks to 6 games. Many reckon that Boston is one superstar piece away from contending with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed in the East.
The Hawks will now face LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final.