josh smith

The Boston Celtics lost Game 1 — and they may have lost their floor leader for Game 2.

Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks built a big lead early, then held on for an 83-74 victory over the Celtics in their opener of the Eastern Conference playoffs Sunday night.

But this one will be remembered for what happened in the final minute, not the Hawks’ blistering start. While complaining about a call, Boston star Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping an official and faces a possible suspension when the teams meet again Tuesday night in Atlanta.

“I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him, but that’s what it appears to be,” Rondo said…

Rondo, who scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists, clearly appeared to stick out his chest to strike the official. That’s a huge no-no and will almost surely draw the wrath of NBA Commissioner David Stern…

Garnett bounced back to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce had only 12 points, going 5 of 19 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts.

“For us to win, I have to be a better player,” Pierce said. “I was a really big culprit.”

– Reported by the Associated Press

Joe Johnson had another poor performance in the playoffs. It’s not as if he doesn’t know he’s going to get pressured. He handled it pretty well early (it helped that the Hawks played faster) but then Joe came out after halftime and seemed to want to go one-on-one.

“I missed a lot of wide open shots I normally make. I’m sure Game 2 will be a lot different,” Joe said. “I’m just glad guys like Jeff [Teague] and Josh was able to pretty much carry us down the stretch.”

You can’t fault Joe for missing open shots. Well, I guess you can, but that happens. More problematic were all the possessions that came to a halt because Joe was dribbling aimlessly (or, worse, getting stripped by Paul Pierce) while his teammates stood and watched.

“I look at the stat sheet and he didn’t have a typical Joe Johnson game shooting-wise,” Drew said. “Yet we still won the game. With this team, I always try to focus on the positive with things like that. He’ll watch the tape and, like everyone else, he will make adjustments. We will continue to run plays through him, put the ball in his hands and put him in position to score the ball.”

– Reported by Michael Cunningham of Atlanta Journal-Constitution Blog