UPDATE: Carroll’s not badly hurt. Ergo, the Hawks aren’t done

052115_hawks_main_CC24
052115_hawks_main_CC24

Jeff Teague scored a lot of points, but his team lost. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

We interrupt the gloom and doom for this bulletin: In a best-of-seven, Game 1 is the least important. Losing Game 1 is no fun, but it still leaves you three losses from elimination. We note that both the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost Game 1 — at home, no less — of Round 2, and each won in six, each tracking the same path: Win Games 2, 4, 5 and 6.

The Hawks have already received good news this morning: According to a report by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, an MRI on DeMarre Carroll’s knee showed no structural damage. He has a bone bruise and a mild hyperextension. Per Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN, Carroll is listed as questionable for Friday’s Game 2.

Even if Carroll misses a game or two, let’s recall that the Washington Wizards lost John Wall, who means more to them than any one man means to the Hawks, and won Game 3 without him. It was only after Wall returned for Game 5 returned that the Hawks told hold of the series. Keep that in mind as we run through a few more points, some perhaps salient.

Lost in the rubble of Game 1 was this: Kyrie Irving wasn’t himself. He scored 10 points in 27 minutes; six of those 10 came on two first-quarter 3-pointers. Playing on a bad leg, he had no burst and couldn’t guard anybody. (Those 17 first-half points scored by Jeff Teague were partially a function of Irving’s absence of mobility.) The Cavs are already without Kevin Love; if Irving can’t play any better than he did in Game 1, Cleveland will have to scrounge for points. J.R. Smith isn’t going to go for 28 every night; if he did, he wouldn’t be J.R. Smith — he’d be Stephen Curry.

The Hawks might have been better off if Love hadn’t gotten hurt. Tristan Thompson, who was just another bench guy after Love was imported to fill out the latest made-for-LeBron Big Three, has been massive. He scored 13 points and took 10 rebounds (five offensive) Wednesday and was the best big man on the floor. Before the game, I’d made the bold assertion that the Cavs’ inside guys — Thompson and Timofey Mozgov — were the least imposing the Hawks have faced in this postseason, my belief being that the Nets’ Brook Lopez and the Wizards’ Nene and Marcin Gortat were better. But Game 1 became Thompson’s fourth consecutive double-double as a starter. Showed me, didn’t he?

Teague scored 27 points against four assists; the Hawks managed but 38 second-half points: Cause and effect? The Hawks drove through the Cavs for 51 first-half points, Teague and Dennis Schroder flashing past Irving and Matthew Dellavedova and even Smith. (Iman Shumpert was otherwise occupied in locking up Kyle Korver.) But the price of getting to the basket was ball movement. The Hawks would have only 19 assists, their lowest total of a postseason that has spanned 13 games, and made only four treys, also a playoff low. It’s unclear whether that was the Cavs’ intention — let Teague have everything he could get in exchange for disrupting the Hawks’ pace-and-space — but if so, it was a deft bit of Rope-A-Dope.

Which isn’t to say the Hawks are dopes. They’re demonstrably not. But their offense hasn’t been very good this postseason, and they have to find a way to start scoring again. They rank ninth in these playoffs in offensive efficiency, and five of the teams ahead of them have been eliminated. Over the 60-win regular season, the Hawks tied for sixth in offensive efficiency. Much of that has to do with …

Kyle Korver, who scored in single digits for the fifth consecutive game. Over the regular season, Korver didn’t have such an extended run of single-digit games, but the playoffs — stop me if you’ve heard this already — can be different. Esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore asked Cavs coach David Blatt before Wednesday’s shootaround what facet of the Hawks’ offense Cleveland would make its point of emphasis, and Blatt essentially ducked the question. The real answer would have been the same as for every Hawks opponent since the All-Star break: “We want to run Kyle Korver off the 3-point line.” Bradley Beal did that for the Wizards. Shumpert did that in Game 1. Korver got only five shots, making two 3-pointers and finishing with nine points in 36 minutes. (Smith had 28 in 35.)

If Carroll can’t play in Game 2, who guards LeBron James? Kent Bazemore would probably get the start, unless Mike Budenholzer chooses to go tiny and deploy Teague and Dennis Schroder in tandem, which would leave Korver on LeBron, which nobody wants. Bazemore is tall and rangy and quick, but he’s not nearly as strong as Carroll. (Or Thabo Sefolosha, whose absence just became a huge deal.) By going small itself and deploying LeBron at power forward, Cleveland forced Paul Millsap to guard No. 23 for long stretches, and he did well enough: LeBron’s clinching dunk was the result of a botched switch. But Millsap on LeBron isn’t a long-term answer, if for no other reason that the Hawks’ most versatile scorer would have to expend so much effort at the other end. Sure enough, Millsap missed eight of 11 shots Wednesday and made three turnovers.

Bottom line: Aren’t the Hawks in over their head? It looked that way in the second half, but these are the playoffs and a series can turn on a dime. The Cavs were 9.4 seconds from being down 3-1 against Chicago until LeBron took matters in hand and hit the saving jumper. If the Hawks can win Game 2, this will be a series. They’ll have to play a lot better to win Game 2, and if Carroll isn’t available, playing better won’t be easy. But weird things happen in postseason. Love got hurt and Thompson emerged. Let’s see if some Hawk — the forgotten Mike Scott, perhaps? — can take a similar star turn.

Further reading: The Hawks’ shots stopped falling; J.R. Smith’s didn’t stop.

Further still: For the Hawks, a happy night turned sad.

Reader Comments 0

113 comments
ZackR
ZackR

CowbellHell, 14 Hours Ago: "the Hawks are gonna go out there and dominate this game mark my words."


Mark Bradley: "The Hawks will win this series."


It seems Hawks fans may be a bit premature, and may want to learn to modify their predictions with phrases like "I think" or "I hope" rather than simply making blatant assertions.

pbond3
pbond3

Gotta love Mark "Homer" Bradley and his hometown picks. Couple years ago the Braves were gonna beat LA in the playoffs, right Mark?

"With all thy getting, get understanding."  Please.

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

The Hawks aren't done? 

Want to put money on it.

Lots of wasted paychecks spent on these two games to see Hawks rendition of we are not worthy to be on the court with King James.

DamonH
DamonH

"and they have to find a way to start scoring again. They rank ninth in these playoffs in offensive efficiency, and five of the teams ahead of them have been eliminated"

doesn't look like that will be happening and in the words of Paul Pierce, "series"

ajp121
ajp121

We don't have the big DOG but we have the wolf pack! Now go HAWKS and devour Cleveland!

Pssst! Tips: (1) They're not guarding Korver when he slips below the free throw line which is why he is grabbing a good number or rebounds. Why not have him slash to the weak side of the post. At 6'7" if he doesn't have a good look he can make a good pass. (2) Why not try Horford defending LeBron so that he can't just back him up and score like he did with Carroll and Milsap. If LeBron dribbles facing the basket against anyone on our team help is needed to make him pickup the dribble. (3) Schroeder, a point guard is supposed to (a) maintain control of the ball, (b) pass the ball instead of dribbling for 10-12 seconds and (c) try to look for ways to get the ball in the hands of another player so that he can score.

Fierce
Fierce

We'll see what happens. All I know is, if you want to win, you do all you can to achieve said feat. Watching Kyle Korver run away from LeBron James at the end last game sickened me. If nothing else, it's a perfect illustration of Atlanta teams in the big moments. Instead of stepping up to the competition, we wither and back off.

colt07
colt07

Yet again the Hawks are in a game that may well be the biggest game in ATL Hawks history. If they win we have a series. If they lose stick a fork in them, they are done. I think I see the fat lady heading this way with a fork in her hand!

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

SHUT UP all you freakin chickin littles jeez...the Hawks are gonna go out there and dominate this game mark my words.  I say Bud adjusts, Baze plays good D on Lebron and we move to 1-1 and everybody on this blog can stop crying...


GO HAWKS GO

ZackR
ZackR

@CowbellHell

Okay, we marked your words.  You couldn't have been further from the truth.  Where can we get our money back?

Sloan
Sloan

Paul Millsap was wretched in game 1 BEFORE he had to guard LeBron at the end of the game. Horford was pretty bad as well and no one has blocked out Tristan Thompson yet! If Carroll can't go, I fear for the hawks chances to avoid a sweep, but the our post players have got to step up for us to have any chance at all.

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

Mark Bradley on target again . . . . . NOT.  When the Hawks lose tonight, the series is over and the Hawks will shut down Carroll for the year which would be in his best interest.  The Cavs are winning this series with their "B" team.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Maybe Carroll will lost that silly haircut now that James schooled him while he wore it..................

huffyman
huffyman

STARTING LINE UP


TEAGUE - KORVER - HORFORD - MUSCALA - MILLSAP

Cousingeorgestone
Cousingeorgestone

Uhhhh, yes they are out, have you been watching them lately???!!   Korver has his head up his you know what, they go through prolonged slumps where they cannot score meaning no lead they have is ever safe, they get their arses kicked on both the offensive and defensive glass and they simply are overmatched.  Why oh why do all Atlanta teams seem to lose the  first game of the playoffs, no matter what the sport, time after time after time.

Katzenjammer
Katzenjammer

@Cousingeorgestone The Atlanta teams don't always lose the first games. They blasted the heck out of the Yankees in the first TWO games in NEW YORK....but ofcourse they lost the next four.

kevkat
kevkat

A major problem is Kyle Korver. I know the defenses rev up during the playoffs, but come on. Never thought I'd say he was a liability on offense..and he couldn't defend a man pronounced innocent....

camelToeJoe
camelToeJoe

@kevkat


Blame the white guy.  Comical.  Korver draws more attention than any Hawk.  Idiots don't see that.  

DewayneDixon
DewayneDixon

Turnovers and JR Smith killed the Hawks! I don't expect Smith to stay that hot; otherwise the Hawks would have won! If Smith continues hitting hopping back, fade away 3's, then the Hawks are in trouble. LeBron will get his points just don't let anyone else go off. Teams did this against the Shaq led Magic! Go Hawks!

playmeortrademe
playmeortrademe

1) I'm probably missing something, but not sure why Hawks didn't put the offensive game in Teague's hands with the way he abused the Cavs defense.  Inexplicable.


2) If the refs are going to call bogus offensive fouls on the Hawks 5-6 possessions pergame, that's a killer. It's like spotting the Cavs 6 points cause the Hawks avg. about a point per possession.  But it's not like we did not see this coming a mile away.


3) Hawks are awesome in transition.  If Smith misses a few of those threes and the Hawks get out and run, then the score is flipped.


Bad night, it'll be an uphill battle to beat Cavs and the NBA 4 of 6.  Maybe when the NBA figures out how flippin' boring it is to watch LeBron or Harden go iso for entire stretches and then bull rush their way to the hoop, it'll change.  I'd rather see good team basketball like the Warriors and Hawks play. 

cspecial
cspecial

officiating is what beat the hawks.that official crew were allowed to come in and take the game away from atlanta.coach bud got to become more vocal and get on them.smiling at them won"t stop the cheating they are doing.with the game tied at 65, they handed cleveland 7 points which the hawks fell behind and was never allowed to come back due to bad calling by the officials.these officials need to be watch and suspended.they were awful and it was funny to them.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR shut up silly troll, cspecial is absolutely right...refs gave you that game with those bogus offensive fouls and then you couldnt hold on to a 15 point lead when Demare went down and we go on a 13-2 run.  It goes 1-1 tonight and I bet you wont be back on here tomorrow troll

McGarret
McGarret

Korver appeared to have found his stroke early on. He hit a couple of tough tre's that were waved off due to penalties in the lane. I thought he had it but they couldn't get him off. I agree game 1 is just that, game 1. I can't make a prediction based on it. Each game in a series has its own identity.

I actually feel a bit more optimistic right now than I did at 10:45 last night.


It's one game...and it's the least important of the series....yes, we might still lose the whole thing but I feel good about Friday. 

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

Don't pump the brakes Atlanta, slam them.  Cleveland will beat Atlanta with their "B" Team in this series.  No Kevin Love, virtually no Kyrie Irving, injured Iman Shumpert, and still the Hawks will go down quietly.  Coach Bud doesn't have an answer and the miracle luck of playing teams without their best players won't matter against the Cavs.  It's been a good year though, especially the first half of the season.

smells like bananas
smells like bananas

I'm more concerned about the mental and emotional injuries the Hawks must be suffering . The soft play last night was embarrassing . Loses happen . Getting out of the way so players can dunk untouched and letting players take repeated wide open 3 pointers is simply disgusting . 

gulfwavesgary
gulfwavesgary

OK. Shroeder takes way too many shots to miss 80% of them. What were the Hawks doing to guard JR Smith. Teague did a good if not great job as team leader. Milsaps hurt shoulder really shows up on foul shots. The ref's are bought off to advance King Lebron to the finals. Carroll gets carried off the court. Antic is really the worst 7 foot basketball player I have ever seen. And the Hawks still almost won. Please fans do not give up on the Hawks yet. GO HAWKS. BEAT CLEVELAND!

odoggQ
odoggQ

Skinny legs Carroll cannot stop LeBron, slow him down, yes. Carroll along with Sefolosha was suppose to be the answer to defending the wings in the East (LeBron and Paul George, etc.).

Why is everyone surprise Korver cannot get his shot in the playoffs when teams become more focused. It was predicted. He needs way more space than the Splash Brothers and J.R. Smith for that matter. 

Millsap always struggle against taller defenders when the game becomes a half-court game. He hesitates on his shot not wanting to get it blocked. Why isn't Mike Scott getting some of his minutes? And remember coach said Mike plays one position, the 4, so I wouldn't expect him to play the 3 against LeBron (sign of desperation).

I know it's too late now, but it would have been nice for coach to get John Jenkins some minutes when he was resting his starters heading into the playoffs. He's a pure shooter and they could use it now. 

Horford lack of rebounding hurts the Hawks chances of getting out and running. Wonder if the Hawks staff could improve DeAndre Jordan's free throw shooting? Is there any truth to his not enjoying Chris Paul type of leadership? 

Jerry916
Jerry916

You have to use what is working offensively.   Cleveland ran that high pick and roll with LBJ setting the pick over and over again, because the Hawks kept switching, leaving Teague on LBJ.  The Hawks have to use Teague and Schroder  driving to the basket until Cleveland stops it.  If the Defense collapses into the paint, then kick the ball out to the shooters.


Antic has to play some defense, and body up on Thompson, if Coach Bud is going to keep putting him in the game.


Millsap is still hurting (shoulder), and whatever Mike Scott did or didn't do, needs to be addressed so that he can get some playing time.



TPCP
TPCP

Is it just me or does anyone else think that Schroder takes a lot of bad shots, killing rallies immediately? How many shots did he miss last night? Not only does he take bad shots, he throws them up quickly before any Hawk can get into rebounding position. Man, that kills the morale of everybody else on the team. If we haven't got a fast break, let's work for a good shot, not just throw up anything and hope it goes in. Come on Hawks, play your game.

Jerry916
Jerry916

@TPC He took some bad shots last night.  Game 1 was not one of his better performances, but he'll adjust, as will the rest of the team.

mic404
mic404

Good takeaways from last night, 1) outside of J.R. you held the Cavs bench to zero points, 2) J.R. can shoot you in, and he can shoot you out of a game. He most likely won't have a game like that this series. 3) Kyrie Irving re-injured himself, says he probably won't be 100 percent moving forward. 4) Carroll will most likely be back this series.

mic404
mic404

FREE MIKE SCOTT!!! He's your 2nd best shooter, and one of your best bench players??? The bench is what got you here, the starting 5 is average at best. Coach Bud is suddenly going to defensive in his lineups.

Chopp
Chopp

@mic404 2nd best shooter?  Pump the brakes pal.

MV7
MV7

Korver is killing us and it tough to watch him get completely shut down this entire playoffs.  It's time to play Mike Scott and let him play his game.  Put him on LeBron since it doesn't matter who guards LeBron big or small.  We have to make LeBron a jump shooter

Ray Russell
Ray Russell

@MV7  Lol.  Mike Scott is not going to make LBJ a jump shooter.  Way too strong for any other Hawk than Demare.

smells like bananas
smells like bananas

@MV7 I couldn't believe how bad Korvers D was last night . I was embarrassed for him .  

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I think defensively the Hawks can stay in games. But as I've repeated time and time again this team has trouble scoring points and staying above the fifty percent range for four quarters. You either have consistent scorers like the Warriors or you don't.