ATLANTA – The Boston Celtics once again find themselves needing a strong comeback in the second half after falling behind early and never quite gaining their footing as the Atlanta Hawks went into the half with a comfortable 43-28 lead.
In many ways the first half of Game 2 mirrored what happened in the first half of Game 1 when the Hawks led 51-34 at the half of what became a 102-101 Hawks win.
While the beginning is eerily similar, the Celtics have reason to be optimistic for a different outcome.
For starters, they showed a lot more fight in the first half than they did in the first half of Game 1 despite trailing by as many as 21 points.
And remember, the Celtics scored just seven points in the first quarter tonight, the fewest points scored in the first quarter of an NBA playoff game in the modern era.
To be that putrid offensively and ONLY trail by 15 points at the half is reason enough for the Celtics to be confident that they can chip away at Atlanta’s lead.
The factors contributing to Boston’s sluggish start tonight weren’t all that different than the ones that factored in them trailing big in Game 1.
There were several missed shots that were more than just the shots Boston, but were wide open or lightly contested.
Open 3s for Isaiah Thomas.
Lay-ups for Evan Turner.
You name a shot and there was a good chance it was one that the Celtics missed in the first half.
Boston turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, a number of which were unforced miscues but ultimately cost the Celtics five points.
And Boston’s starting backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart (filling in for an injured Avery Bradley) were a combined 1-for-15 at the half. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver had 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
Boston had its opportunities to make it a single digit game but came up short repeatedly.
Among those opportunities was a missed shot by the Hawks which they were able to keep alive via an offensive rebound. The ball eventually wound up in the hands of Korver as he continued his night of redemption (he was 1-for-10 in Game 1) when he nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the first half that pushed Atlanta’s lead to 39-26.