BOSTON The Atlanta Hawks were without Josh Smith, arguably the best player in this Boston-Atlanta series. The C's had both Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo back in the lineup.
An easy night for the Celtics, right?
Far from it.
If there's one thing you can expect from the Celtics, nothing is going to come easy.
The Hawks gave the Celtics a much tougher-than-expected battle for four-plus quarters with the Celtics ultimately prevailing with a 90-84 overtime win.
Boston seemingly shut the door on Atlanta's quest at an upset when Kevin Garnett had a put-back dunk with 28.1 seconds to play that gave the Celtics an 88-84 lead.
After an Atlanta time-out, Joe Johnson jacked up a long three-pointer that was rebounded by Ray Allen who was immediately fouled.
Allen, who had missed his lone free throw attempt earlier in the game, was short on the first attempt with 21.4 seconds to play. However, he came through by knocking down the second which gave the Celtics a five-point lead.
The Hawks called yet another time-out, but it didn't matter.
The Celtics had this one, and with it, a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 at the Garden on Sunday.
Boston seemingly had the game won after a Garnett jumper with 6:58 to play in the fourth quarter put the C's ahead by 11 points.
However, the Hawks closed out the fourth with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 80.
The C's had one last chance to escape with the win in regulation, but Pierce's off-balance jumper was off the mark.
Boston's strong start to the fourth was them simply feeding off of a solid finish in the third quarter which ended with the C's ahead, 60-56.