For a second, the Boston Celtics looked capable of orchestrating a masterful comeback from a 17-point deficit in their Game 1 matchup against the Hawks in Atlanta. Then, with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter and down just four points, everything went terribly wrong.
As the shot clock wound down for the Hawks, Kevin Garnett knocked the ball away from Joe Johnson to start a scrum on the floor. Brandon Bass eventually fouled Josh Smith — a controversial call given the mess on the ground — which ticked off star Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo screamed in the face of official Marc Davis, who gave him a reasonable technical foul. It didn’t stop there, though, as Rondo kept walking towards Davis and bumped him in the back with his chest. That earned Rondo a second technical, an automatic ejection, and possibly a coming suspension for contact with an official.
The Hawks then made three free throws — the technical shot by Ivan Johnson, plus two for Josh Smith from the Bass foul — effectively icing the game as Atlanta finished with an 83-74 win. However, the greater issue might be for the Celtics moving forward. In a seven-game series, even a one-game suspension can have a huge effect. That’s especially true given that the Celtics are already uncertain of Ray Allen’s availability as he recovers from bone spurs in his ankle.