BOSTON – The Boston Celtics finally got off to a great start in their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
And the finish was pretty impressive as well as the Boston Celtics made all the plays needed down the stretch to beat Atlanta, 111-103.
Boston now trails 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 in Boston and now, a Game 5 back in Atlanta.
Several players stepped up for Boston, but none bigger than 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas who finished with a career-high (playoff and regular season) 42 points. It was the first time a Celtic scored 40 or more in a playoff game since Rajon Rondo had 44 points on May 30, 2012 in a second round matchup against the Miami Heat.
But this game was by no means an easy one for Boston, even though they led by as many as 20 points.
In fact, the Hawks eventually took the lead briefly in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 85-84, Jonas Jerebko – making his first start ever as a Celtic – drove into the lane to put the Celtics back ahead, 86-85. He finished with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Boston also got a strong game from Evan Turner who had 17 points, seven assists and two rebounds.
After exchanging a few misses, Thomas had a chance to increase Boston’s slim lead when he was fouled by Dennis Schroder with 8:36 to play.
The two teams continued to wage a tightly contested, down-to-the-wire battle with big shots coming from both teams.
If it wasn’t Kyle Korver draining a 3-pointer, it was Marcus Smart coming back with one.
Mike Scott would hit a big shot, Evan Turner would knock one down at the other end of the floor.
It was that kind of wild and crazy fourth quarter, setting the stage for what appeared to be one shot to win it all for somebody.
But clutch plays at both ends of the floor by Boston wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Game 3 was by far the best game the Boston Celtics have played in this series, with solid play coming from all points on the floor for most of the game.
In the first half Boston led by as many as 20 points and withstood a strong charge by the Hawks to go into the half with a 12-point lead.
But Atlanta tightened things up in the third quarter, and if not for a last-second turnover that Jerebko turned into a lay-up, Boston would have gone into the fourth quarter facing a small deficit instead of ahead 79-78.