ATLANTA At the very end of Ray Allen's post-game media scrum Tuesday night, he left these chewable crumbs that we plan to feast off of today.
"We have to go back to the drawing board," he said.
And so we will.
There's not much value in spending all our time on what went wrong in Boston's 87-86 Game 5 loss. Rather than do that, we'll use what we've learned from the entire series to this point as a learning tool and move forward.
Here we'll highlight three things the C's can do that should put this series to bed Thursday night.
The Celtics have proven repeatedly to be a team that doesn't handle prosperity well. It seems the role of favorite, even if it's just for one game, is one that's too difficult for them to handle at times.
In Game 5, Boston played for long stretches like a team that wasn't in a must-win situation. That is not the case anymore.
A loss in Game 6 and the C's will find themselves on the verge of what would be one of the greatest playoff collapses in franchise history.
The best way to approach Game 6 for the C's is to have a Game 7 mentality. Back in 2008, Boston annihilated the Hawks in their Game 7 at the Garden.
Even though last night the Hawks found a way to stay alive for another game, their Game 5 win wasn't exactly the kind of victory that's all of a sudden going to bring back their confidence that they can win this series.
At the very least though, the Hawks feel they can compete.
Part of the C's job -- and they need to do it in the first quarter -- is to break the Hawks' spirit with a major run and show no signs of letting up in the second or third quarter.
In other words, whip out the Game 4 plan and do it again.
PAGING RYAN HOLLINS
The Celtics need to play Ryan Hollins more.
I can't believe what I just typed, so let me do it again just to make sure this isn't some type of out-of-body, crazy dream thing going on.
The Celtics need to play Ryan Hollins more.
It still feels kind of weird, but it's the truth.
Hollins is giving the Celtics so much more in this series than Greg Stiemsa, it's not even really a debatable topic who should play more.
Stiemsma has earned the right to play because of what he has done in the regular season. But this is the playoffs. The regular season means diddly-squat right now.
Doc Rivers has to play the guys who are making plays. And Hollins -- no matter how out of control or wild he seems at times -- is making lots of plays.
In the Game 5 loss, he had a plusminus ratio of plus-6. Only Mickael Pietrus (plus-11) and Kevin Garnett (plus-17) were better.
He's hustling for loose balls. He's getting under the skin of Hawks players. He's catching alley-oop dunks from Rajon Rondo.
And he is . . . rebounding.
With Hollins, the good play that the C's are getting from him, could dry up at anytime so it's important that they ride this out for as long as they can -- even if it means sitting Stiemsma.
"The one thing you know when Ryan comes into the game, something's gonna happen," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "It's gonna be good or bad, but something's gonna happen."
LESS IS MORE FOR RONDO
While it's great to see Rajon Rondo being such a willing participant in Boston's efforts to score more points, the numbers show that more shots from Rondo doesn't necessarily make the Celtics a better team.
Consider this: In this playoff series, Rondo has taken 10 or more shots in the four games he played (he missed Game 2 while serving a suspension for making contact with official Marc Davis near the end of Game 1).
In those games, the Celtics are 2-2.
During the regular season, Boston was 12-13 in games in which he took 10 or more shots. One of the overlooked aspects of his recent run of double-doubles has been the fact that many of them have come on nights when Rondo was not a particularly efficient shooter.
In Boston's 87-86 Game 5 loss, he made some incredible plays both shooting the ball and as passer. But he also missed some easy ones, too, which accounted for him scoring 13 points while needing to take 17 shots to do so.
Every night, Rondo has to find that balance between when to search for his shot, and when to continue to find his teammates. For most of this season, he's done a really good job of doing so.
But for the C's to close out this series on Thursday, him finding that happy medium would make the process a whole lot smoother.