The Boston Celtics finally shook their first-quarter woes at Philips Arena on Tuesday. Unfortunately, they forgot to show up for the final three quarters.
Boston opened up an early 10-point advantage over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, then suffered one of its worst collapses of the season, getting outscored by 32 points over the final three quarters in a brutal 110-83 loss that gave the Hawks a 3-2 series lead.
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas had his worst game of the season, scoring just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. He left the game early in the fourth quarter with a mild left ankle sprain and did not return. Evan Turner scored a team-high 15 points in a brutal offensive effort for the C’s, who shot 38 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers.
Backup forward Mike Scott led the Hawks with 17 points. Five Atlanta players reached double figures, as the Hawks poured in 14 3-pointers to force a must-win for Boston in Game 6 on Thursday.
Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson
The Celtics just can’t seem to score first-quarter points at Philips Arena. But fortunately for Boston, the Hawks couldn’t either Tuesday.
Two games after the Celtics’ miserable seven-point first quarter, Atlanta almost matched them with just 15 points in the first 12 minutes on 5-of-21 shooting.
The C’s weren’t much better, but a pair of Marcus Smart 3-pointers and a circus shot by rookie Terry Rozier helped give them a five-point lead after another rough offensive quarter in Atlanta.
The Hawks’ shooting woes continued early in the second quarter. But the Celtics couldn’t take advantage, and Atlanta made them pay by flipping the switch on the offensive end.
The C’s led by as many as 10 points yet went nearly three minutes without a point midway through the second quarter. That’s when the Hawks caught fire, ripping off a 26-6 run that included three Kent Bazemore 3-pointers in a span of 87 seconds.
Atlanta made 11 of its last 12 shots in the quarter to take an eight-point lead into halftime, while Thomas didn’t record a single point (0 for 4, four turnovers) in a rough first half.
The Hawks continued to light it up in the third quarter and ran the Celtics out of the gym in the process.
A Turner 3-pointer four minutes into the frame cut the deficit to five, but that’s as close as Boston would get. Atlanta buried the C’s with a barrage of deep balls, drilling four threes over a two-minute span to open up a 22-point lead.
The Celtics were careless on both ends of the floor during the abysmal quarter, committing 10 turnovers and surrendering a whopping 42 points to the Hawks, many of which came on open looks.
BAD TO WORSE
Boston’s tailspin continued into the fourth quarter, but the score wasn’t what concerned Celtics fans the most.
Thomas landed awkwardly on his left ankle after making a layup at the 10:25 mark of the fourth quarter. He committed a foul on Atlanta’s next possession, immediately limped to the locker room and did not return.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Turner found Jonas Jerebko for a nice finish in one of the Celtics’ few highlights of the night:
The series shifts to Boston on Thursday for a must-win Game 6, with tip-off at TD Garden set for 8 p.m. ET. Game 7 will be Saturday in Atlanta at 7 p.m., if necessary.
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images