On Pro Basketball
BOSTON — Theoretically, the Atlanta Hawks could have beaten the Celtics.
Boston's Paul Pierce was a game-time decision after tripping over a teammate's foot in the shootaround. Avery Bradley has a throbbing shoulder and Ray Allen missed most of the last month with bone spurs which will require surgery.
And Atlanta welcomed back a couple All-Stars. Josh Smith, who missed Game 3 with a strained tendon in his left knee, and Al Horford, who has been out since Jan. 11 with a torn pectoral muscle.
Beat Boston and their opening round playoff series is even at 2-2 and the Hawks take back homecourt advantage.
Theories are great for eggheaded professors on college campuses. But this was no classroom, this was TD Garden parquet where reality gave the Hawks a swift boot in the fanny. The Celtics humiliated the lethargic Hawks in a brutal 101-79 thumping Sunday night.
Things couldn't be unfolding any better for the Celtics.
The battered Hawks aren't putting up much of a fight, so this could be over tonight That would give the equally battered C's time to rest their aging bones and give trainer Ed Lacerte time to work his magic.
Then it would be the winner of the Chicago-Philly series. Minus Derrick Rose, the top-seeded Bulls have landed with a thud. The Sixers lead 3-1, but Boston would have trouble keeping a straight face if the two met in the East semis.
Overachieving teams with no real stars don't go far in the postseason.
Say it is a Boston-Miami matchup for the Eastern Conference title. Obviously, that would be a formidable task for the Green, but they'd be chomping at the bit to see if LeBron James' fragile psyche is up to the challenge.
But back to yesterday's debacle.
It was so lopsided, you half expected Darnell McDonald or Chris Davis to sub in for the Hawks.
When asked if the Hawks would just have to forget this stinker, Horford said, "You can't forget."
Atlanta fans certainly won't. Even though it was Sunday, the Hawks just mailed it in.
The Celtics were more than willing to accept the largesse.
Shame on Joe Johnson. The six-time All-Star is making $18 million this season and he turned in this criminal stat line: 4 of 8 shooting, 1 of 2 from the line, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 9 points.
Oh, yeah, he held a sub-par Paul Pierce to 24 points. In a mere 16:37!
The bad news is Pierce went down late in the second and returned just briefly in the third. He didn't seem to be hurt too badly, but who knows? He was riding an exercise bike to stay loose but with the game out of hand.
The Hawks mailed it in physically and mentally. Kirk Hinrich is supposed to be a smart player but you wonder. He even fouled Rajon Rondo, one of the league's poorest shooters, on a 3-point try.
Uh, Kirk, you want him to shoot 3s. It was a strange game as Rondo was 2 of 3 from deep, a Halley's Comet-type occurrence.
Sticking with the astronomy theme, Rondo has an out of this world 16-1 assist to turnover ratio. He also found time to score 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
He's always a threat for the SportsCenter Play of the Day and last night's beauty was a fake behind the back pass and/or dribble, which led to an off-the-wrong-foot dipsy doo lay-up.
If the And-1 tour still exists, someone pony up and give Rondo a 1-day contract.
Horford surprisingly played well with 12 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. He didn't play in the fourth, though. He said, "We'll see how I feel tomorrow" when asked if he'd play Tuesday.
Smith, the ultimate trick-or-treat player, had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds but bricked two more 3s and turned the ball over a game-high six times in 32 minutes.
Smith infuriates the Atlanta fans but it's truly painful watching Jason Collins play. He had 1 point, 1 rebound and three turnovers in 12 minutes.
Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but has anybody ever seen he and Mark Blount together?
Who knows, maybe Atlanta will rebound and make it a series. But you'd be hardpressed to convince the 18,624 who were in attendance at the Garden that could happen.