Hawks down short-handed CelticsApr 21, 2012 - 3:04 AM Boston Celtics, 97-92, on Friday.
Kirk Hinrich, Jason Collins and Willie Green tallied eight points apiece for Atlanta, which has won seven of its last nine games.
"Minus who played or not, we know that they're a well coached basketball team. They play hard, we were able to come out and establish ourselves early. They made a run throughout the game, we definitely responded with runs of our own," Smith said.
The Hawks have a 1 1/2-game lead over fourth-seeded Boston for home- court advantage in a possible Eastern Conference first-round matchup.
Home-court advantage was instrumental the last time these teams tangled in the postseason. The home team prevailed each time during a first-round series in 2008 as the top-seeded Celtics won in seven en route to the franchise's 17th NBA title.
Avery Bradley had career-high 28 points for Boston, which was without Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
"Before the game we all told each other, this is an opportunity for us to improve. Not only that, for all of us to improve on our games as individuals. Everybody stepped up their game today," Bradley said.
Pierce and Garnett did not dress, while Rondo was not with the team to rest his injured back. Allen sat out for a seventh straight contest due to a sore ankle.
With the Hawks holding a one-point cushion late in the fourth quarter following Keyon Dooling's layup, Johnson's three-point play stretched the margin to four. After Marquis Daniels was blocked at the other end, Johnson hit two more free throws and Atlanta took a 92-86 lead with 1:29 left.
Brandon Bass knocked down a pair of foul shots on Boston's ensuing possession, but Smith's layup followed by two Jannero Pargo free throws sealed the win for the hosts as they took a 96-88 advantage with 21.6 remaining.
Atlanta led 34-27 after a quarter of play and took a 58-49 edge into the locker room. Johnson tallied 23 first-half points to lead all scorers, while Bradley netted 17 for Boston.
Following an 8-0 Atlanta spurt in the third stanza, which gave the hosts a 70-58 lead, the Celtics closed the frame on a 13-4 surge to pull them within 74-71 heading into the fourth.
Before the game, Boston waived center Jermaine O'Neal and signed forward Sean Williams...Atlanta is 11-3 at home since the beginning of March...The Celtics scored 25 points off of 19 Atlanta turnovers.
- BOSTON: 92
Apr 20 9:30 PM
- BOSTON: 71
End of 3rd
Apr 20 8:50 PM
- BOSTON: 49
Apr 20 8:07 PM
- BOSTON: 27
End of 1st
Apr 20 7:33 PM
- BOSTON: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 20 7:11 PM
- Point man: Irving shines in Cavs' demolition of Raptors May 18
- Celtics' Olynyk undergoes successful shoulder surgery May 17
- After lots of losing, 76ers hope to win big in NBA lottery May 17
- After long overseas career, Nets coach Atkinson back in NY May 16
- Love's Return: Cavs' big man thriving in second postseason May 11
- After fallback season, Hawks look to rise again in East May 9
- Love, James lead Cavs to another sweep, 100-99 over Hawks May 9
- Big Three leads Cavaliers back to Eastern Conference finals May 9
- NBA Playoff Capsules May 8
- Cavs looks unstoppable as they eye another playoff sweep May 8
- Cavaliers-Hawks Preview May 7
- Cavs looks unstoppable as they eye another playoff sweep May 7