This was a game of runs. Until the last few minutes when it became a game of back-and-forth execution. The Hawks won that end game. They executed just a little bit more than the Celtics did.
The Celtics gave themselves chances to win. That's what winners do. They made some huge steals and had the ball when the clock expired. Even before that, Paul Pierce had a chance to give the C's an 88-87 lead, but didn't quite get high enough to land his jumper. Then Rondo stole an inbounds pass, but wasn't able to find an open teammate or get a shot off himself.
To me, the ultimate result of this series is not in doubt. The Hawks need to play at 100% of their capability just to barely beat the Celtics. When the Celtics are playing at 100%, they win with ease. Even last night, one more play made by a Celtic and the series is over.
That's how the Celtics won in 2008 and got to the Finals in 2010. They didn't dominate their opponents, they put themselves in close games and made the important plays. They lost 10 times in the '08 playoffs. It's okay for Championship caliber teams to lose. Because they're usually already ahead in the series and they'll usually win the next game.
That next game is Thursday in Boston.