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Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  May 1, 2008 11:27 AM

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I'm not gonna say it. But you know what I'm thinking.

Or, let's put it another way. Feel better now?

This Celtics-Atlanta series isn't over. It might even come back to Boston for -- miracle of modern miracles -- a Sunday afternoon game -- but the Celtics are going down to Atlanta on Friday night leading the series, 3-2. And if it must return to Boston on Sunday, what you saw Wednesday you will see in some variation or other Sunday. To repeat, this is why you battle to get the home-court advantage.

What took place at the Garden on Wednesday was very much the natural order of things. The Celtics did everything the way they did it during the 66-16 regular season. They played killer D. They had an exquisite inside-outside offensive balance. They shared the ball. They got timely bench lifts from the likes of Leon Powe (a 9.9 on the Lovability Scale, isn't he?). It all looked very familiar and logical.

The Stars shone. If the 1986 Larry Bird had played a game such as Paul Pierce submitted in Game 5, we'd be busy composing sonnets and commissioning statues in his honor. Pierce was all over the stat sheet from the beginning, and what I especially loved was the way he set the tone for the offense by combining strong (and ambidextrous) moves to the hoop with a velvety outside touch. He rebounded with great relish and he passed beautifully. That 50-foot outlet pass to a speeding Rajon Rondo as he came down with a second quarter rebound was a Bird-like play if I've ever seen one. Doing what he did in the context of the "menacing gesture" controversy was pretty impressive.

Kevin Garnett was quietly magnificent. His passing was superb, especially his subtle drop-down entries. And when the game got sticky at 60-54, he basically said, "Just give me the ball, please; I have something in mind." That something was an aggressive post-up move that stopped the bleeding and set the forces in motion for what would turn out to be a 25-point win and a guaranteed Gino viewing.

Ray Allen came up huge in the second half. He was quiet offensively in the first half, with just two points and the team's only turnover (he just lost the ball out of bounds en route to the hoop). But he was a monster in the third quarter, nailing three threes just when the team really needed them.

Speaking of threes, which I will always hate, and which I consider to be the worst thing to happen in basketball during my lifetime ... there is nothing worse than what happened in Game 4, when, thanks to some early threes, the Celtics got off to that quick 13-point lead. Making early threes is a curse, because you start thinking you're playing better than you really are. It is far better to get an honest lead and then allow threes to be incorporated into your offense as the game unfolds. In other words, to have it all play out as it did in Game 5.

The Hawks cooperated by playing a typical Atlanta road game. Don't forget. They were 12-29 away from home for a reason.

So the Celtics did what they had to do, and what logic told us they would do. But, as Doc Rivers continually points out, this group has yet to accomplish much of anything. They could get through an entire playoffs without winning a road game, for example. But I wouldn't recommend it. Let's see what they're made of in Atlanta.

By the way, you looked pretty foolish out there on that ledge.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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