ATLANTA – Kyle Korver is one of the game’s best 3-pointer shooters.
But as Tuesday’s 110-83 Game 5 win by Atlanta will attest to, he by no means gets the job done by himself.
Atlanta’s ability to deliver the long ball courtesy of lots of hands (seven different Hawks players hit a 3-pointer) was more than enough to deal the Celtics a crushing Game 5 loss that now has them on the brink of playoff elimination.
Boston trails 3-2 in the best-of-seven series with the Hawks now in position to close out the series in Boston on Thursday.
Atlanta’s offense began to heat up in the second quarter and absolutely put the game away with a barrage of 3-pointers in the third quarter which gave them a commanding 89-62 lead going into the fourth which featured both teams emptying their benches early.
The Boston Celtics struggled to generate offense for most of the night, including Isaiah Thomas who came into the game as the top scorer in the playoffs with a 28.3 points per game average.
Thomas, an all-star this season, didn’t make his first basket until the 10:21 mark of the third quarter.
He would finish with 7 points on 3-for-12 shooting, the kind of scoring night that the Celtics simply can’t win with, regardless of the opponent.
That wasn't the only bad news for Thomas and the Celtics.
The 5-foot-9 guard suffered a left ankle sprain and had to leave and according to team officials, was not going to return.
It remains to be seen whether Thomas will be available to play in Game 6 on Thursday.
At the half, Atlanta was 7-for-17 from 3-point range and nearly matched that total in the third with a 5-for-11 performance from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, the Celtics were a less-than-stellar 6-for-22 after three quarters of play.
The strong start to the second half by Atlanta was in stark contrast to how the game began.
After a sluggish first quarter by both teams, the Celtics seemed to have found their groove with an 8-2 run which gave them a 20-15 after one quarter of play.
Boston continued to play well early in the second, even taking their first double-digit lead (29-19).
And that’s when things fell apart … badly.
The Hawks went on to close out the quarter with a 28-10 run and led 47-39 at the half.
For Boston, the third quarter was essentially a continuation of Atlanta’s second half dominance.
The Celtics have said repeatedly that they approach every playoff game as a must-win matchup.
That has to hold true on Thursday night when their season is literally on the line.
A victory and they live to fight another day and return to Atlanta for a winner-take-all 7th game.
But a loss would end their postseason at home for the second year in a row.