Hawks end hoodoo
Atlanta beat Boston in a play-off series for the first time since 1958
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS, 1ST RD, GAME FIVE
BOSTON CELTICS 92
ATLANTA HAWKS 104
*Atlanta win best-of-seven series 4-2
It took nearly 60 years, but the Atlanta Hawks finally found a way to beat the Boston Celtics in the play-offs.
Atlanta had not won a post-season series against Boston since 1958, the year they won their lone NBA title.
Entering Game Six yesterday morning (Singapore time), the Hawks had also lost 10 straight play-off games in Boston dating back to 1988, including Games Three and Four at TD Garden.
But the Hawks used the lessons from those losses to come away with a 104-92 away victory, eliminating the Celtics 4-2 in the first round of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference play-off series.
"This is a great environment to play in," said Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver.
"They (the fans) just breathe confidence into their team. We felt like we had our chances in Games Three and Four, but our execution wasn't good and (we made) a couple mental mistakes. A couple lapses that you just can't have on the road.
"I thought tonight, until the last two minutes, we played a really great game."
Paul Millsap had 17 points and eight rebounds, Al Horford and Kent Bazemore scored 15 points each, and Korver added 14 points and nine rebounds for Atlanta - who face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round at the Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday.
The Hawks lost all three meetings with the Cavaliers during the regular season by an average of 9.7 points.
Cleveland also swept Atlanta when the two teams met in last season's Eastern Conference Finals.
"We just won Game Six in Boston," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.
"I don't have any thoughts about Cleveland.
"We'll start preparing - we may actually take a second to enjoy tonight - and at the appropriate time we'll start preparing. Our guys will be ready, I can guarantee that."
A promising season for the Celtics ended with some Jekyll-and-Hyde performances.
Boston won 48 games during the regular season, highlighted by a 109-106 win to snap the Golden State Warriors' NBA-record 54-game home winning streak on April 1, and won 19 of their final 22 games at home.
But a pair of sluggish starts, including a seven-point first quarter in Game Two that was the lowest for a play-off team in the shot clock era, did the Celtics in on the road. They did, however, snap back into form once they returned home for Games Three and Four.
But in Game Five in Atlanta, Boston again suffered from a lack of energy and could not get their mojo back in Game Six.
"We learned a lot through this play-off series, but one of the things that I learned is we've got to get better," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. - Reuters.