for this game

Celtics try to close out Hawks on the road

May 2, 2008 - 1:33 PM Boston at Atlanta 8:00 pm EDT Eastern Conference first round Celtics lead, 3-2

ATLANTA (Ticker) - The Boston Celtics have had no trouble winning at home, but if they want to close out their Eastern Conference first-round series in six games, they'll have to take their strong play on the road.

The top-seeded Celtics try to eliminate the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Friday when the teams meet for Game Six of their best-of-seven series.

After the Hawks evened the series with a pair of wins at home, Paul Pierce erupted for 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead Boston to a critical 110-85 victory and a 3-2 advantage in their best-of-seven series during Game Five on Wednesday.

Following a solid first two games in Boston, Pierce struggled during consecutive losses in Atlanta. The All-Star forward made just 3-of-14 shots inside the arc and drew the ire of both Hawks' fans and the media for making a "menacing gesture" considered by some to be a gang symbol during Game Three.

Pierce was fined $25,000 for the act and forced to release a pregame statement Wednesday after a Boston reverend called him out in a newspaper article for promoting gang life.

"I don't want to take the focus away from the playoffs," Pierce said. "In sports, emotions run high. After playing for 10 years in Boston, I think Celtics' fans know that I am a passionate player."

Pierce's performance was sparked by his agressiveness as he poured in 10 points, four rebounds and three assists in the first quarter alone.

Joe Johnson scored 21 points and Josh Smith added 18 for the Hawks, who shot just 41 percent from the field and haven't won a playoff game on the road since 1997.

But, Johnson is confident in his team heading back home.

"We still got life, man, it ain't over yet," he said. "We got to go home and take care of business, and that's that."