Apr 26, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks power forward Josh Smith (5) shoots over Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 106-89. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
Only the Hawks had something to play for, but both teams actually submitted legitimate NBA rosters. Atlanta won and took home court advantage over the Celtics.
Well, credit both the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks with actually fielding basketball teams for Thursday night's game. While squads around the league trotted out some comically meager lineups, Jason Kidd was the only healthy individual to rest in Atlanta.
Both teams played close to their everyday rotations, but only the Hawks had something to play for, and they really came to play. Atlanta rushed out to a huge lead in the first quarter and never looked back, winning by a final score of 106-89.
The Hawks needed the win to guarantee themselves home-court advantage in their first round playoff series against the Celtics, and they looked determined from the outset to secure that edge. Josh Smith piloted a massive run to start the game, draining jumpers and covering tons of ground to grab boards, distribute and defend. He had 12 points in the first quarter, and Atlanta led by as much as 23 points in the period.
By the end of the first, Atlanta had drained 16 of 23 field goals and led Dallas by 17. As Jason Walker of Peachtree Hoops writes, that blazing start afforded the Hawks the right to cruise the rest of the way, and said cruising actually worked out for them pretty nicely:
The Hawks were tied at six with Dallas. Then, all at once, the mission that the team spoke of and the swiftness of the ball movement and athleticism the Hawks hold came crashing down all around the Mavericks. The result of this was a 38-21 first quarter that effectively gave the Hawks enough cache to play around with jump shots the rest of the night and, because a lot of them went down, they had to do little else to put away the Mavs.
Dallas got 22 points from Dirk Nowitzki and briefly bit into the deficit to open the third quarter, but without Kidd and without much incentive to exert themselves, they seemed content to take the loss and start looking ahead to their first round series. They'll open up in Oklahoma City on Saturday, while the Hawks and Celtics first meet on Sunday in Atlanta.
For all of Thursday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.