The uninspiring Hawks face a major moment in Game 4

Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver, second from left, guard Shelvin Mack (8) and forward Paul Millsap sit on the bench in the second half of Game 3 of the second round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 103-101. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver, second from left, guard Shelvin Mack (8) and forward Paul Millsap sit on the bench in the second half of Game 3 of the second round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 103-101. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver, second from left, guard Shelvin Mack (8) and forward Paul Millsap sit on the bench in the second half of Game 3 of the second round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 103-101. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Not exactly the fun bunch. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — In Round 1, the Atlanta Hawks had to win Game 5 at home to keep eighth-seeded Brooklyn from taking a 3-2 series lead. In Round 2, the Hawks have already fallen behind the No. 5 seed — twice! — and need Game 4 to keep from facing elimination in every game thereafter. Since eight NBA teams have overridden a 3-1 deficit to advance, it would be wrong to call tonight’s tilt an absolute “must” win. But it’s pretty darn close.

Two ways of viewing Saturday’s wild Game 3: The Hawks played as badly as they could — trailing by 17 points in the first half, by 19 after three quarters, by 21 with 9:34 remaining — and still almost won; or, if you’re more negatively inclined, the Hawks were utterly outclassed by an opponent missing John Wall and needed a bloomin’ wonder from a cobbled-together lineup to make that 21-point deficit go away, and even then they couldn’t win.

I’m not certain the Wizards can play any better than they did in Game 3, and I’m reasonably sure the Hawks can do no worse. But to type those words after three games of Round 2 tells us how the Hawks’ postseason has gotten out of plumb. In the regular season, they were 7-1 against the Nets and Wizards; in these playoffs, they’re 5-4. Two lesser opponents have outperformed their station; the East’s No. 1 seed has underperformed.

“We haven’t been ourselves for 48 minutes (meaning any full postseason game),” coach Mike Budenholzer said Sunday. Then he said: “The opponent is one of the reasons we haven’t been ourselves.”

The 60-win Hawks have been unable to do what they do best, which is make shots. They’ve been outshot over these nine games. Of the eight teams still going, the Hawks rank sixth in postseason field-goal percentage. (Cleveland and Chicago slipped below them after Sunday’s game saw them make 38.7 and 36 percent of their shots, respectively.)

Put bluntly, the Hawks are lucky they’re only down 2-1 to the Wizards and not 3-0. Imagine if Wall hadn’t missed Games 2 and 3. Imagine if he were apt to return. (He isn’t.) As is, the No. 1 seed can square the series and still win in six. (The longer it goes, the more Wall’s absence will show.)

I’d be lying if I said I’ve been impressed by much of anything the Hawks have done in these playoffs. I’d also be lying if I said I expect them to lose this series.

Further reading: The Hawks – out of character and on the brink.

From Game 3: The Hawks lose a game but win back some pride.

Pre-Game 3: For the Hawks, it’s now Eastern finals or bust.

Reader Comments 0

51 comments
BobbyDawg
BobbyDawg

When Shroder is in the game we go ahead and stay there. If I can see this why can't the coach?

BRINGIT
BRINGIT

Mark is just calling it like it is. Nothing wrong with that. ATL wants the Hawks to succeed and do great but this team has shown little intensity or heart when it matters. How they respond tonight will tell a lot. It will be a shame if the Hawks cannot get past the first round again with the second best record in the NBA. But the fact is the Hawks should be able to get past the Washington, especially without Wall playing. Teague looks slows and sloppy and his passes are sloppy. I know he's not 100% but I think Dennis Schroder provides a faster and upbeat offense instead of Teague walking it to the top of the Key and waiting until 10 or 15 seconds to start passing. Come on Hawks, MAN UP! I hope Korver is on target tonight because they will need him. Although the Hawks try way too many three pointers and forget to attack the center and go inside. Hoping for a win tonight!

AtlantaTruth
AtlantaTruth

They don't want it.     How sick.    Move on.

Huff
Huff

Agree MB.  I will add that there seems to be a shaky uncertainty showing itself with this team way too often in these playoffs -- likely they are hoping not to lose.  Sure there have been some moments (good moments) when they seem to let go and get into the flow and passion of the game but those moments have been few.  More often they seem unsure - second guessing themselves with every movement/decision.  Teague starts a drive but then seems uncertain he's making the right decision and that slows him and makes the attempted drive ineffective; Horford has the ball up top with the open 17 footer but hesitates on pulling the trigger.  They have got to let go and let it flow, and let the chips fall where they may.  Better to choose a course and fail spectacularly in the arena than fizzle for a lack of entering the arena in the first place. Hoping they find it tonight.  Go hawks. 


agentoranj90
agentoranj90

It's hard not to think about seasons like they had with Nique and lost in the 2nd round; or  92-93 where the Hawks were #1 seed and dropped the 2nd round.  Still I have to be somewhat positive and hope the Hawks win game 4.

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

Damn people, relax. This is why we play seven games. In case you hadn't heard, LeBron has also lost two games, and the mighty Golden State Warriors are also down 2-1. This is what happens in the playoffs. We'll get there. But the constant hating from our own GD fans and newspaper isn't going to get these guys 'inspired.' So be positive or shut your trap until the season's over.

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

With supporters like Mark Bradley, who needs enemies? Mark, how about you just talk about the Braves until our Hawks finish the season (wherever that might be)?

Chi Ali
Chi Ali

a lot of times the hometeam will have a chip when they know their guy will be out, I expect more of a letdown from sessions and the wizards bench when they know Walls not coming back, my biggest thing going forward is that since teauge is signed and you need 2 points its a referendum on Milsap and Horford, Al is a PF and seems content on just firing jumpers at this point if the hawks lose the series would swapping him for a Brook Lopez or signing RObin Lopez be better since AL doesn't seem to want to mix it up? Also Milsap is a FA and while he can do inside outside work he hasn't been "the man" on this team , could he be replaced cheaper, lastly Antic needs to shoot and board better

drewcat
drewcat

For the Hawks to win tonight, and for the matter the series, the Hawks need Coach Bud to stay on top of his rotation with a keen eye. And this of course means NO MORE PERO! Pero deserves a DNP Coach's Decision for the rest off the playoffs.

He is slow to the ball. Slow to help and show on pick and roll defense, he can't rebound or pass. His only skill WAS stretching the floor. And he has not done that consistently at any point of the season. I can recall one game, that OKC game on the road, where he played well. One out of however many games he wasn't arrested or hurt for... Coach Bud has gotta see the light; and that's that there is no light at the end of the tunnel when playing the Macedonian big..

Get Muscala minutes. Bench Teague and Millsap at the first sign of no effort.

Millsap has flu like symptoms and puts up 8 and 2 boards. He could've saved that energy for tonight if he was just gonna dogg it out there

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

@drewcat Come on now, Teague has basically been playing on a broken ankle for the last three months.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

Uninspired is the word, they've went from an exciting team to a bunch of guys who at times seem out of sorts.

Fierce
Fierce

Just win, however you have to do it. Perhaps this is Coach Bud's strategy all along, to keep riding the bench until it warms up. It looked like they got something going in the 4th last game. 

Dribble
Dribble

Well the backups came in and made a heck of a run.  Don't know if Carroll was hurt of what but he should have been guarding Pierce.  Got to take this game tonight and even things up. 

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

looks like more seats are opening up on the Hawks bandwagon. 

ricop001
ricop001

The bench players are the key for us.  Antic needs to com off the bench last, after Scott Dennis, Baszmore and Muscala.  Teague is not effective lately, and cannot seem to create his own shot far more create for others.  Give Dennis and Mack the opportunity and I am sure they will do a better job, until figure it out.  Jenkins can come in as a change up when kyle cannot seem to hit. And try and play in the paint more...we are living and dying by the three point shot.

Maavelous
Maavelous

They will all get lengthy rests soon. Thanks, Bud. Coach of the Year for 60 games. Momentum Killer for the last 22.

tyger
tyger

What Hawks are these?


60 win/19 straight Hawks...

Or Big Al + the 2nd rd. picks???...

Lately, the latter...


STARS not needed...really???

Every NBA expert predicted this...

Playoffs completely different ball game....


Stars step it up, refs call it differently...
No more freebies...gotta go get it...


LBJ, DRose, CPaul, PP, Conley beg to differ...

STARS can "will" their teams to victory...

They RISE when others fade...they want it...


And they DON'T sit at crunch time...


Can you imagine the "hissy fit" LBJ would have...

If benched on last play of "tied" playoff game???...

Yes, 2nd rd. picks manageable..."team players"..."good sports"


Right now...we a STAR!






CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@tyger the starters SUCKED up the joint..thats why they sat and thats why we came back...PLAY THE BACKUPS!!

Dis custed
Dis custed

@tyger What about the other  teams stars   MVP Curry, Thompson, Rose, Harden... It's like saying the spurs system doesn't work. We all know differently. Hopefully this playoff seasoning goes on and  on. Anyhow complaining about our starters is insane after watching what they did foer 3 1/2 quarters.

Gman84
Gman84

If they don't care, why should we? 


Anybody who has followed sports for more than 5 minutes knows what "flu-like symptoms" is code for. At least Milsap admitted he was hungover....good thing the reserves weren't invited to party with the starters.

mark513
mark513

60 win team had me denying the fact of the playoffs, superstars win playoffs not teams. The Spurs have and had Duncan, Parker and Ganobli, we have Horford, Teague and Millsaps. I still love this team and coach Bud, but we are not built to win in the playoffs and will lose this series in 5. 

miked706
miked706

@mark513  I agree 100%  we will lose in 5 games they have no heart.

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

@mark513 Agreed...its like trying to watch the Braves (best regular-season team) try to compete in the playoffs with finesse pitchers, while power pitchers would totally step their game up and dominate us.

Dis custed
Dis custed

@mark513 First of all in 2015 only Leonard is a star ( today)  three on three . Would you rather have Milsaps, Horford and Teaque  or the older present version of the three named above superstars for more than 12 minutes ?

John Reid
John Reid

The playoffs are not about being the same player as in the regular season, it's about players becoming great when it matters most. Outside of Game 5, where is Horford's great moment? When has Milsap been great? Teague looks mismatched against Ramon Sessions for heaven's sake. All of this waiting around for Korver to make 3's is a death knell, and the guys who were sitting down in the midst of a great comeback need to look themselves in the mirror before tonight's game and ask if they truly have what it takes to win when it counts. If not, new ownership should look to let them all go and bring in players who aren't afraid of the spotlight.

Sautee
Sautee

Where oh where is Olivia to tell us that Millsap is done for the season, LOL?

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

I feel like Muscala probably earned more playing time going forward - not because of the three pointer - but because he helped keep Gortat and NeNe from doing whatever they want down low.  Nene is not that good, and he getting everything he wanted in the first half of Game 3.

ValyboiPCH
ValyboiPCH

I've been btchin about that I'm glad he showed up an I'm looking for great things from him. As Antic he's a defensive liability

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

They just need to play more players to use their defense to wear down the other team. Thabo was a big loss. It's not a 3 point contest you have to score in the paint which has been the difference actually in every playoff game they have played. Washington is taking and making more two's

Pama123
Pama123

@SomewherenSGa There is no excuses for the hawks, washington is simple playing better, and they do not respect the hawks. They have call the hawks everything but a fraud. But if the hawks lose tonight, they are a fraud.

Dis custed
Dis custed

@WPL @SomewherenSGa And if the Hawks win you'll make excuses for Washington because you are not a fan. Why bother posting unless your a Washington troll.

EmoryEagles
EmoryEagles

Win tonight and it changes everything.  Evens the series and we get home court advantage back.  Come on!

itsslomotionbaby
itsslomotionbaby

and if Teague is not healthy what is wrong with giving mack some of his minutes.sometimes mack has even looked better as the prototypical point guard.evrybody say play the starters more minutes in the playoffsa but we have won as a collective unit all year.some nights our stars did not have it. there is no use in trying to drive in a dull screw.if its true about what demarre carol said, its no wonder why they are floundering.we have no heart.when we round out our team for next year we should know whom we could go to war with.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

Winning 60 games is no small task, the starting five put everything they had to give along with Dennis the menace and Thabo's defensive skills (which is sorely missed) and I am not tossing excuses but lets be realistic, no one, especially the news media gave our "Beloved" HAWKS a chance to be relevant and a lot of fans did the same, the HAWKS would be mediocre.

The HAWKS are where they are not suppose to be and that is the number one seed, yet, that's exactly who this team is, a number one seed, Eastern Conference Champs.  The HAWKS players bought into coach Buds system last season and the upset of the Pacers was a possible reality.  The 2nd year of coach Buds system produced four Allstars, a well-deserved honor for coach and players.

Remember, the Wizards were suppose to be one of the teams to beat at the start of the season, the wizards brought no fear then and they bring no fear now.  One thing is for sure and we as fans know the HAWKS will give it their all and suppose to be's and woulda, coulda, shouda's are irrelevant, remember, the HAWKS were never suppose to be in this position. 

A remarkable season has been enjoyed, the bandwagons filled up and HAWK fans could really brag, it's fun and what I know is the HAWKS will get better, be it this season or next.  My dream was a 52-54 win season and it came true and from there I was LQQKING forward to next season building on a max of 54 wins and the HAWKS tos'd that notion into the trash, it was far better than I could imagine.

The HAWKS have not failed me, I go with the one game at a time philosophy and I know they will play their hearts out to the end.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pama123
Pama123

@WaltBBall Hawks are a 47 season ATL failure, this is what they have always done.

Dis custed
Dis custed

@WPL @WaltBBall   Thats 65  SIXTY FIVE before today's game. Lots of teams would like to be playing in the hawks place tonigjht.

Addy10
Addy10

There is no reason in the world for folks that are paid multi million $$ to pay a freakin game and show up with the lousy effort they gave in game 4. They played without pride or self respect, shame on them.