Celtics Rout Hawks in Game Five, 110-85

By Stephen Alford
Updated: May 1, 2008

BOSTON — After handing the Atlanta Hawks a 110-85 beating on Wednesday in Game Five of the Eastern Conference playoffs at Boston, the Celtics have a 3-2 lead over the young birds in the best-of-seven series.

Celtic captain Paul Pierce had his usually reliable, well-rounded game by scoring a game-high 22 points, tying Leon Powe with a team-high seven rebounds, and recording six assists and only one turnover in 33 minutes of action.

10 of The Truth’s 22 points came in the first quarter.”Pierce got it started for them early,” said Atlanta power forward Josh Smith.”He made it an issue to get out early and get easy buckets.”

Smith, who recorded an Atlanta team-record seven blocks to go with his 28 points in Game Four, only could manage to swat Rajon Rondo’s fast-break layup attempt in Game Five’s loss.

“We spaced the floor better,” said Doc Rivers when asked about how they were able to take the block shots out of the game.”We were conscious of where he was at.Watching film, we showed the guards where he was going to be at and our whole thought was every time he helps, he’s helping off of Kevin.

“That’ what we kept saying, ‘He’s helping off of Kevin Garnett.’ If a guy helps off of Kevin then we have to find Kevin.That’s why Kevin got all of the corner shots and the elbow shots.He’s been there, we just haven’t found him.”

Garnett ended Game Five with 20 points, on eight-for15 from the field.

Former Celtic Joe Johnson once again led the Hawks in scoring, this time with 21 points.After torching the Celtics for 35 in the Hawks’ 97-92 Game Four victory, the 6-foot-7 swingman shot six-for-11 from the field, including two-for-four from the deep end in Game Five.

“Joe was Joe,” said Hawks coach Mike Woodson after the Game Five loss.

Boston was able to hold the Atlanta team to 40.6% from the field and 30.8% from three-point territory.On the flip side, Boston shot 53.6% from the field and 45% from three-point land.

Johnson, who netted 14 field goals in Game Four, including 20 in the final frame, could not score in bunches on Wednesday the way he did last Sunday in Atlanta.

“He made passes and plays, but some other guys have to step up and make some shots,” added Woodson.

“We kept him away from the basket,” said Celtic Ray Allen.”We kept two bodies on him.He is so elusive out there on the floor that we made sure we kept bodies on him and every corner he turned he saw somebody.”

The Hawks were only able to record four fast break points in Game Four.

“When you’re taking the ball out of the net, it’s hard to get out and run.” said Coach Woodson.

“The execution was as crisp and as sound as we’ve had in a month and the defense was terrific,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.”We were trapping, smothering and we didn’t make a lot of adjustments.We just did what we should do and we did it well.”

“We’re not very disciplined on the road in running our offense, or getting into sets, or moving the basketball, and defensive principles,” assessed Joe Johnson of his young Hawk team.”And that’s what cost us.That’s why we’ve lost on the road in the playoffs by like 20 points.”

“If we do run our sets, we’re not running them hard so we are really making it tough on ourselves when this game really isn’t hard at all.It’s nothing that they’re (the Celtics) doing.We’re just not executing.”

“We need to go home, play Game Six and hopefully have a Game Seven.We need to break this tape down and just get ready for Game Six back in Atlanta,” said Coach Woodson.

“We still have life man, it ain’t over yet,” Johnson said.”We got to go home and take care of business.And that’s that.”

“We’re more confident, said Josh Smith.”Definitely, more confident.We just got to go out there knowing we can beat this team, and play up-tempo.If we don’t play up-tempo with this good half court team then we know we’re not going to win on Friday.

“We have to do it again,” Coach Rivers said.”We have to do it on the road now.It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere down there and we’re going to have to go in there and play like tonight.If the offense wasn’t as good as it was tonight, then we still win the game with our defense.”

“This is playoff basketball,” said Ray Allen, who finished Game Five with 19 points, including three three-pointers in the third quarter.”This is what makes it part of the fun, knowing that we have to turn back around.They have a hostile building down there.”

Celtics Nation is hopeful that the Green will maintain the composure that was displayed in Game Five and seal the deal in Atlanta on Friday.