BOSTON - Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew could have played the injury card after Friday night's 90-84 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Josh Smith (knee), Al Horford (chest) and Zaza Pachulia (foot) all missed the contest, leaving the Hawks severely depleted. Nonetheless, Drew took the high road.
"You can look what our situation is from an injury standpoint," said Drew. "The last thing I'll do as a coach is use it as an excuse. I thought we were depleted but yet we were still in a position where we could have won the game. If I'm going to take anything positive from this certainly I'm very proud of our guys. Getting word today that Josh (Smith) was not going to play, I knew I would have to get some production from other players.
"I thought Erick Dampier came in and gave us some big minutes. He's a guy that hasn't been playing much at all for us. This is just a situation that I really needed another big body and he came in and gave us some really good minutes. Our starters played a lot of minutes. I thought Joe (Johnson) did a good job with his performance and trying to get us over that hump. Tracy (McGrady) played well for us prior to him turning his ankle. We've been a team that has had adversity throughout the season like everybody else and it says a lot about your team when they can step up in the playoffs short-handed and still put themselves in a position to win the game. We certainly had our opportunity. We just fell short."
Smith's absence certainly hindered the Hawks, but the Celtics didn't take it for granted.
"They lost a star player, but they have so much talent," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "They have guys capable of making up the difference. Obviously they bring in Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich, are more than capable. You can't take it for granted regardless of who they have out there. They are one of the most balanced teams in the league, where you just don't know who could step up on any give night. Obviously you know Joe Johnson, but any of these guys could step up and really have big games for them."
Game 4 of the series between Boston and Atlanta takes place Sunday night at TD Garden.