Strange but true: The Hawks lead 2-0 but need to be better

The sky's not falling. Neither are the shots. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The sky’s not falling. Neither are the shots. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The sky's not falling. Neither are the shots. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The sky’s not falling. Neither are the shots. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

On the one hand, they won. And this being the playoffs, shouldn’t that take care of both hands? Shouldn’t that be all that matters?

Yes, I say. But, in this case, also no.

The Atlanta Hawks are the East’s No. 1 seed. The Brooklyn Nets are lucky to have made the playoffs. The Nets came close to stealing Game 2 on Wednesday, and nothing in either game so far suggests this series is the mismatch pretty much everyone — myself included, I freely confess — figured it would be.

Twice now, the 60-win Hawks have been outshot from the field and outrebounded by a 38-win opponent. Twice now, they’ve had a double-digit lead in each half and have seen the visiting team drew near. In Game 1, the Nets closed within four points. On Wednesday, they had two chances to tie/take the lead inside the final 1:17.

The first time, Joe Johnson missed a tough runner. The second time, Deron Williams saw an open 14-footer from the left baseline spin out. They would lose 96=91, but you cannot get a better look at a game-tying shot. The guy — and Deron Williams isn’t the same Deron Williams once considered a peer of Chris Paul — just missed.

Afterward the Hawks credited their defense, which wasn’t terrible, but that same defense allowed D-Will to get open with 10 seconds to play. That said, guarding was again the better part of the Hawks’ game: They made only 38.9 percent of their shots in Game 2, four days after making 43 percent in Game 1.

And yet: They’re up 2-0, and the Nets are just as apt to collapse in Games 3 and 4 in Brooklyn as to bow up and tie the series. This might well have been their best chance, and they’re weren’t good enough to snatch it. But what does it say that the Hawks are having such difficulty distancing themselves from the worst team in the playoff grid?

Another confession: I don’t really know. The Hawks have been the controlling team through both games, but they’ve missed so many shots that they can’t achieve lasting separation. Maybe they as a team are just doing what Deron Williams did — missing shots that should be made.

If nothing else, these two games have shown the Hawks don’t have to shoot well to win, but that declaration should come with an asterisk: They haven’t had to shoot well to win against the No. 8 seed. The fifth-seeded Wizards might be different in Round 2, though the Hawks have owned Washington, too. The Cavaliers or the Bulls will surely be different in the Eastern Conference finals.

Credit the Hawks for defending well, but this team cannot win three (or four) playoff series without making its usual complement of shots. On the season, they made 46.6. Through two games, they haven’t come close to that, and to say the Nets are unyielding would be incorrect: They were 24th among 30 NBA teams in defensive efficiency.

Bottom line: The Hawks are very fortunate to be 2-0, but they have to realize how fortunate they are — and start playing (and shooting) better.

The game column from myajc: The Hawks lead 2-0 but haven’t dazzled anyone.

Also from myajc: Ressler to the rescue? Is the Hawks’ nightmare over?

Reader Comments 1

54 comments
playmeortrademe
playmeortrademe

Not worried about the Nets.  They've probably got the best collection of talent of the 6-8 seeds in the East and have played the Hawks four times in the last month.  They probably should have been the 6 seed if not for their year-end schedule (again, Hawks twice) and the Celtics catching fire.  Wednesday might have been the worst shooting game all year and the team still gutted out the win because they trust the system.  Their trust in the system will reward them in a 7-game series.  By comparison, the Bron Bron show could easily be down 1-2 to a far less talented team if not for some miracle ish by Irving in game 1 and the Celtics inability to get a rebound late in game 3.


When the Hawks advance, and they will advance, the superiority of the system and the committment to it by all five guys on the floor will win out.  It has all season. Milsap and Horford will heal, and the near-misses will start to fall.  I say let everyone think the Hawks are vulnerable so its more satisfying when they kick the crap out of the Wiz and the Cavs on the way to the Finals.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

First, and most importantly. This is these are the play offs!  They are different kinds of games. 


I am not scared to death that the Hawks will lose to the Nets. What I am concerned about is that there seems to be a lack of a killer instinct that has developed since the All Star break (e.g. see LeBron James, Kevin Love et al. against the Celtics last night, and the Bulls against the Bucks to understand "killer instinct" ). 


Are you totally confident that if the first two games the Hawks won against the Nets had been played in Brooklyn - that the Hawks would have won both of them.? I am a huge Hawks fan, but with the way the Hawks let down and allowed  the Nets to climb back into both games, I'm not confident 


Playing at home means more in NBA basketball than in any other sport. Did you see what play off veteran and the possessor of two rings, LeBron James did when the game against the Celtics began? He turned on his after burners and planted Cleveland's flag immediately, in the first quarter. He knows what it takes to get a ring.  It was an exciting game to watch, just like the Bulls-Cavalier game. And the Celtics and the Bucks played valiantly to the end, but there was no doubt about which team was going to win those two games. 


So here we are with deja vu all over again. The 2-0 top dog team is headed for two games at the under dog's arena. The under dogs almost pulled the first two out, and they are very confident, and they are at home, and like the Bucks and the Celtics, are not going to go easily. 


Unless the Hawks come out with a super aggressive,  butt kicking, killer instinct tonight, right from the opening tip off, this game will be up for grabs. And now, Coach Bud has the toughest job in coaching in any competitive sport you would like to name - making sure that he has instilled the mental toughness necessary in his players  to get out in front and relentlessly and mercilessly keep pouring it on -- not only to win this game, but to destroy the Nets confidence in the next game. 


If not, this 4 game series could easily become a 7 game series with no clear winner until the end of the last game. And the Hawks are way too good for that to happen. 

Sautee
Sautee

For those of you who are scared to death that we'll lose to the Nets, here's some comfort:


245 of 261 teams that have trailed 0-2 in a seven-game playoff series have gone on to lose.

That only gives the Nets about a 6% probability of winning the series.

RonRoberts
RonRoberts

Gotta get Millsap and Horford healed up and the separation will come.  They're LITERALLY two of the team's best three players, so you have to expect there's going to be some decline in overall team performance.  

That's how I prefer to look at these first two games, frankly; banged up Millsap and Horford and the Hawks are STILL up 2-0?  Task any other playoff team with having to deal with its best two players ailing and I doubt you'd be looking at a 2-0 team right now.  That speaks to this team's ACTUAL strength: it's depth and chemistry. 

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

No style points in the playoffs - win or go home.  Doesn't matter how they got here, they are 2-0.  Hawks won a lot of close games throughout the season, which is better preparation for the playoffs than blowouts.  If you can blow a lead but hand on to win, that is good.


I think Brooklyn will take one of the next 2 up there, and then we wrap it up here at home in Game 5.  


I do question why Muscala doesn't get more minutes.  I think it would be good to test him against BK so he can be used with confidence against teams like Chicago or Cleveland where we need more inside presence.  Seems like he's done well when he's played, so maybe I'm missing something, but I feel like he could play an important role.

ReggieTheMailman
ReggieTheMailman

How can we wrap up a series in game 5 if the Nets win the next 2? The playoffs haven't been best of 5 in like the last 10 years....where you been?

hardworkinman
hardworkinman

Has everyone forgotten that the #8 seeded Hawks took the #1 seeded Pacers to seven games last year? It's the NBA playoffs. Teams don't just roll over and die. They fight hard to win. The Nets will likely win a game or two at home.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@hardworkinman Yes, even the #8 seed has good/great players.  Brooklyn has 3 all-stars on their roster, they have just underachieved this year.  Winning any way you can is fine.

Now, maybe we should pay a little more attention to Jarrett Jack.  That former Jacket was the best player on the court last night.  At least we guarded him tight at the end and let Williams miss the last shot. 

If the Hawks don't miss point blank shots like last night they win going away.  It's not likely they continue to shoot like that.  So...no worries.

Howitzerr
Howitzerr

Love to sit back and watch the roller coaster of reactions from Hawk fans.  All we heard from EVERY Hawk fan was that the Hawks were going to blow out Brooklyn and that the Eastern Conference Finals was a given.   Now after the Hawks don't look very good at all against an UNDER 500 team......now it's "all we care about is the win".    Face it.....The Hawks have had a good season but peaked in January.   And now they are finally getting some injuries that other teams like Chicago have had to deal with all season.  


Washington will likely be the next opponent.  Unlike the Hawks, they struggled mightily during the regular season but are peaking now.   As a Bulls fan, I am more concerned about Cavs and Wizards than the Hawks quite frankly.  The Wizard guards of Wall and Beal are WAY better than Teague and Dennis S.    Watch out for the Wizards Hawk fans!

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

What should have Hawks fans said? A 60 win team stinks? A #1 seed has no chance to kick off in the Nets? No chance for this team to make the finals? I will play your game. Tell us what we should have said...

khd713
khd713

@Howitzerr  "All we heard from EVERY Hawk fan was that the Hawks were going to blow out Brooklyn"


What in the world are you talking about? I think it was pretty well assumed by everyone that the Hawks would beat the Nets. I have heard people say we will win in four or five games, but I never heard anyone comment on or predict the scores of the games by suggesting they would be blowouts. Also, the prediction about winning in four or five games still looks pretty accurate, so what exactly are you saying? And if you are a Bulls fan, you better be very concerned about the Hawks. The Wizards cannot beat the Hawks in a series any more than the Nets can, and the same goes for the Bulls. The Bulls have a star but overall just don't match up with the Hawks, and their bench can't compare. If you think the game last week when the Bulls first team beat the Hawks' second team means anything, you are wrong, but I'm glad to see it has given you such a false sense of confidence that you are already looking past us. Bring it on.

NorthFlaFalcon
NorthFlaFalcon

The reason we missed so many layups is because Brooklyn was banging us inside, all night, Lopez is huge and he was beating us up! Coach Bud needs an answer for the inside game. Al was ice cold, maybe it was his finger but he could not buy a basket. We live and die by the 3 ... this might not work on the road. We have such great ball movement and team play ... I still say we win this series in 5 games ... GO HAWKS

khd713
khd713

I agree with everyone saying this just isn't a big deal. The Hawks haven't played well in either game but are 2-0. At this point, the only thing that matters is winning the series. They might even lose one in Brooklyn, but it won't matter. The Nets can't beat the Hawks in a seven game series. The next round will be different, and the Hawks had better be ready to turn it up to full speed from there on out.

Sautee
Sautee

Where is that crazy woman who claimed that Sap was "done for the year"?


SMFH.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

That Bigot? He/she is probably on another blog being a bigot!

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I don't understand why after Jack penetrates past Shroeder and Teague that he's not met by one of are bigs with a hard foul.

Armydawg
Armydawg

The famous Atlanta melt down will be here soon enough.

Sautee
Sautee

@Armydawg Not likely this series. Teams down 0-2 in a 7 games series only win a little over 6% of the time.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Another hairy game from the Hawks,             Sweep Brooklyn.

2112thDawg
2112thDawg

It's unreasonable to assume the Nets can't beat the Hawks a game or two. We're like 6-0 versus them now for the year. This isn't UGA vs. La. Monroe... the Nets have some good NBA talent and it's not the regular season. They've turned it up a notch. We will also turn it up a notch next round. Odds favor the Nets to win one or two and battle. The logic isn't there to assume you won't ever lose to them.. No we're not blowing them out.... just win baby. it's not a beauty contest. I'm sure we'll have our game ready for round two and the tougher opponent.

moboman
moboman

2-0 and haven't played our best ball yet in the series.  If it weren't for Jarret Jack last night, game wouldn't have been close.  So he's had his game of the series and they still lost.  Relax everyone.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

When a 8th seed plays a number 1 seed what do they have to lose?  The 8th seed is expected to be blown away, as was the case with the HAWKS and the Pacers last season.  The Nets are relaxed which will keep them in the game but the HAWKS are doing what a good team does and that's winning ugly.  The next two games will tell how good the Nets are, they're at home, comfortable surroundings and they have nothing to lose, they have played better than expected but the home town crowd does bring pressure and their expectations are high because of the closeness of both games in Atlanta, I don't think the Nets are relaxed now and a fragile team under pressure to win just one may blow up, will be interesting to see.

GO HAWKS

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

Whatever Bradley. We're 2-0. That's all that matters. Doesn't matter if they were ugly wins. They were wins. This is the playoffs. Even the 8 seeds are going to come out playing better than they did during the season. People need to calm the [expletive deleted] down.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

But what does it say that the Hawks are having such difficulty distancing themselves from the worst team in the playoff grid?

It says that this is the playoffs Mark! Stop this nonsense man. What were people saying about us last year when we were the 8th seed and took Indiana to 7 games?

Fortunate? Really? Are you saying the same thing about Cleveland? About Golden State? Mark I have to say that this is not your best work man! We are all hoping that the Hawks blow out teams by 15 to 20 points but when you "shoot bad" as you say and still win...why so much chicken little syndrome?

Man it is amazing that you of all people are kicking dirt on the Hawks as they continue to win...with an unhealthy Milsap and a hurt Horford.

Keep in mind that Brooklyn is a veteran team, with three All-Stars and a Thaddeus Young (which the defense shut down last night) and Jarrett Jack who played the playoff game of his life last night! And by the way despite the heroics from Jack, they still lost!

We are not going to get the same beatdowns that the Hawks put on people during the season because it is the Playoffs! Despite what you and the naysayers say....Brooklyn will not lay down and let the Hawks kick them.

Yes Williams missed the open shot, but Kyle missed a free throw that could have helped seal the win. When does KK miss free throws? It happens man it is the playoffs! Despite all the "chicken little" stories we up 2-0, getting healthy, playing a veteran team with a decent bench, good coach, and we still winning!

Stay True to the Hawks Mark; tell us how the Coach of the Year is making adjustments in the game ( the set of Schroder and Teauge playing minutes together and killing Brooklyn) how a hurt Milsap played like a beast last night; and a hurt finger Al made some incredible plays on defense and rebounded like a mad man!

Stay True Mark!

crackbaby
crackbaby

Glad to see Jarrett Jack play well off the bench.  Also relieved that his team lost.


In both games, Hawks had stretches in both halfs where no shots were falling.  Coach Bud should insist that they go inside if they miss perimeter shots 3 possessions in a row.


Love the use of Elton Brand as goon to hack Plumlee when Brooklyn was in the bonus.  Plumlee bricked both FTs coach Hollins pretty much had to take him off the floor in those situations.


Hawks will win the series because they are fundamentally more sound and the Nets have no team chemistry. 

DamonH
DamonH

The Hawks have gone from looking like the Cavs/Bulls might give them problems to the Wizards might give them problems

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

@DamonH Relax man. Worry about the 2nd round when we get there.

Jerry916
Jerry916

Remember the Hawks took both Indy and Boston to 7 games in the first round from the same position that the Nets are in this year.


It's going to be a grind.  The Nets have professional players just like the Hawks.  The Hawks have beaten the Nets 6 times this year.  Don't you think the Nets coaches and players are trying to figure out what adjustments need to be made to win a game against the Hawks?


That said, the Hawks are not playing as well as they did during their 19 game winning streak.  They haven't played that well since the all star break.

Jerry916
Jerry916

Remember the Hawks took both Indy and Boston to 7 games in the first round from the same position that the Nets are in this year.


It's going to be a grind.  The Nets have professional players just like the Hawks.  The Hawks have beaten the Nets 6 times this year.  Don't you think the Nets coaches and players are trying to figure out what adjustments need to be made to win a game against the Hawks?



Jimmy24
Jimmy24

Does anyone else feel like the Hawks are no longer controlling the game? They seem to be just  reacting to what's going on around them. What happened to the running game we saw in the beginning of the season?

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

@Jimmy24 The Nets are not going to be an easy out. I dont think the Hawks have been healthy for quite sometime but you cant dwell on the negative. Milsap had a great game as well as Horford. Jeff Teague needs to make layups. We should have won by 15. All that being said, we are winning playoff games and we are not playing that well. That is a first for Atlanta. We used to have to play lights out to get out of the first round. When you limit turnovers and execute down the stretch (which is what the Spurs do) you always have a chance to win ballgames.

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

Also, we dont have superstars so the games are going to be close for us. We are not going to blow teams out period.  This will ultimately teach this team how to win in playoff situations. Sweep Brooklyn and get some rest. Wizards wont sweet Toronto and we matchup better against the Wiz than we do Brooklyn.

GeorgiaBugman
GeorgiaBugman

"Through two games, they haven’t come close to that"

Ok, so 43% is not close to 46% ? Seriously Bradley, proof read your blogs before you post.

Dman
Dman

The Hawks are so good, they can shoot 36% and still win a playoff game.

bpgt
bpgt

Here's the deal.  Coach Bud is still coaching like it's the regular season.  Both games, in the first half we could have put them away by 20 but Bud put the bench in early.  I believe Korver and Horford were both out of the game 6 minutes in with the Hawks dominating.  Teague missed two easy layups.  Antic missed a layup.  Refs missed an obvious goaltend.  I honestly blame it all on Ludacris.  Thanks SportSouth for almost ruining the third quarter with that.  The guy doesn't even know how to pronounce Carroll.

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

I think what we're seeing with the Hawks is how difficult it is to flip the switch back on. This team basically coasted through the last 25-30 games of the season, talking openly about how avoiding injuries was more important than winning games. A team like the Spurs that's won five championships can do that. I'm not sure a team like the Hawks that hasn't enjoyed much success prior to this year can.


I also think we're seeing the effects of losing Sefolosha. The stats don't lie -- the Hawks have been much better this year with Thabo than without him (about 11 points better per 100 possessions, I believe).

Falcons4Eva
Falcons4Eva

COACH - 


Please do NOT allow ANTIC anywhere near the floor in the last 5 minutes. And Please do not play him for more than 3 minutes at any stretch!!!  Give some time to Mike Muscala...at least he can jump more than 3 inches off the ground and blocks out !!!  Urggh!!!

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

@Falcons4Eva He will get his time but you have to consider what coach sees at practice. Muscala may be able to grab boards but how is his post defense? Pero also brings Lopez out of the paint allowing Dennis, Teague to penetrate.  Its a chess match.  A win is a win in the playoffs. Look at the Spurs last night, execution down the stretch is the key.

waltbellamy
waltbellamy

Don't discount that the Nets went 0-2 over the last four days. That is 0% winning % or roughly equal to the last place teams in the overall league.

POV1948
POV1948

Sky is falling.  Nah ...

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Don't discount that the Nets went 13 6 over their last 19. That is 68% winning % or roughly equal to the 3rd place teams in the overall league.


The mantra of hot teams in the playoffs so oft mouthed in the NFL holds no water in the NBA? The Hawks are playing a tough, talented, hot, 8th round seed. It skews the perspective.



Falcons63
Falcons63

2-0 is 2-0.. Considering the history of every Atlanta franchise fading as soon as challenged, I thought it was a very positive sign to the team hold off every Net run.  This in spite of injuries, a bad shooting night.. and negative writers.  On to New Jersey.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

                               Since 2012

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

"and they’re weren’t good enough to snatch it"....


Huh? Was this article written by DLed?

Pete21
Pete21

I'll break things up and use my inside voice. It won't bother me if the Hawks win ugly until we face Cleveland in the conference finals. We really needed this game tonight and got it. I'm hopeful we'll be a bit more healed up by the time we play Washington.

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