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Friday, 29 April 2016 02:50

Boston Celtics' season ends with a gasp as comeback falls short to Atlanta Hawks in 104-92 Game 6 win

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The Atlanta Hawks blew away the Boston Celtics to close out the 6 game series with a 104-92 win. The Hawks had another massive run in in the third quarter that gave them enough cushion to withstand the Celtics' big fourth quarter comeback from a comfortable distance.

BOSTON – With health out the window and shooting nowhere to be found, the Celtics needed to outwork and outsmart the Hawks for 48 minutes in Game 6. They didn’t come close.

The Celtics suffered a slow death in the Hawks’ vice grip as their season ended with another blowout loss.

No matter who Stevens threw out there with Isaiah Thomas, the Hawks swarmed and suffocated each possession during the middle quarters.

Al Horford was perfect in every which way, shooting 7-for-8 from the field and finished with 15 points and a +25 differential in 25 minutes. Every second Horford was on the floor, the Hawks’ advantage grew.

The Hawks had yet another third quarter blitzkrieg, scoring 39 points after starting the half with a 14-5 run. Every time the Celtics fought back, the Hawks raced the lead back up to 20.

The Hawks’ lead ballooned to 28 in the early fourth quarter after a Dennis Schroder cutting layup. But Jae Crowder responded with a three on the other end and kickstarted a 22-6 run until he fouled out. With three minutes left.

But with such a big deficit, they needed to be perfect. The Hawks kept getting to open weak side shooters, but couldn’t close it out somehow. The Hawks’ phenomenal execution never waned, but the shots that gave them the lead were no longer falling.

It all ended when Isaiah Thomas hit a floating finger roll to make it a 10 point game. The Hawks responded with a stampeding fast break that ended with a Paul Millsap three-point play to put it to bed. The Hawks began fouling intentionally as the Celtics wasted away at the free throw line.

Despite Tyler Zeller's surprise contributions on both ends during the fourth quarter comeback, the massive gulf between the two teams did not leave wiggle room for any misses or fouls. The Celtics got close to single-digits, but committed an unfortunate foul or missed a crucial shot whenever the door looked ajar.

What was an even matchup at the outset of the series could never be fair game with Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk unavailable – or in Olynyk’s case unusable – while Jae Crowder played hurt and Jared Sullinger played in cement shoes.

Yet it was the Celtics’ struggles to withstand the Hawk’s tidal wave runs that did them in. The Celtics were an unstoppable force trying to pick apart the Hawks' well-lubricated machine. But with bodies down and inferior skill, the Celtics will have to return next year with a better army built around Thomas.

 

Jared Weiss

Jared Weiss is the Celtics Locker Room Reporter and Host of The Garden Report: Celtics Post Game Show on Celtics Blog and CLNS Radio. J Weiss hosts The Block Party on Thursday nights at 8 PM and enjoys long walks on the beach while watching Rajon Rondo game footage. You can reach J Weiss at JWeiss@clnsradio.com and @CLNS_JaredWeiss.