Called for flopping: The top-seeded Hawks get swept

Atlanta Hawks Shelvin Mack (8) walks off the court  coming out of the game followed by DeMarre Carroll as the Hawks fall 118-88 to the Cavaliers for the sweep in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Cleveland.      (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)  MARIETTA DAILY OUT; GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; WXIA-TV OUT; WGCL-TV OUT

Gone with the wind off Lake Erie. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

They won 60 games and reached the Eastern Conference finals, two signal achievements, but in the end the best team in Atlanta Hawks history reminded us it was still an Atlanta Hawks team. In the end, it embarrassed itself.

Go ahead. Make any excuse you want. Injuries? Yes, the Hawks had injuries. But let me remind you that in Game 2, they started four 2015 All-Stars to Cleveland’s one, and they lost by 12 points — at home in the series’ biggest game — after trailing by 20. In the elimination Game 4, they were down to three All-Stars and Cleveland was up to two, and the No. 1 seed was beaten by 30.

The Hawks were 60-22 in the regular season, having gone 10-2 against the teams they’d face in the playoffs. They went 8-8 against those three opponents — Brooklyn, Washington and Cleveland — in postseason. The path to the NBA finals couldn’t have been any more inviting: Round 1 brought the 44-loss Nets; Round 2 brought the Wizards, against whom the Hawks were 3-1, and not Toronto, against which they’d gone 1-3, and Washington lost its best player for half the series.

Then the Hawks faced Cleveland, which lost Kevin Love in Round 1 and was without Kyrie Irving for half of the Eastern Conference finals. Even before Kyle Korver suffered an ankle injury and the series shifted to Ohio, it was all but done. The Hawks mustered a professional effort in Game 3 — they lost in overtime after wasting a four-point lead with 1:24 remaining in regulation — but mailed in Game 4.

You can say that the Hawks, in the end, were outmanned. If so, they were outmanned by what was, in Games 2 and 3, a one-man team. (Yes, the one man was LeBron James.) You can say that the Hawks were unaccustomed to high-level playoff basketball and didn’t know how to act, but this was also the first conference final for Irving, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova, and they seemed to figure it out.

Make any excuse you want, but here’s where I note that, after Game 3 in a tied Round 1 and after Game 2 in a conference final where they’d already lost at home, the Hawks themselves conceded they hadn’t played hard enough. (And this was before the 30-point loss in an elimination game.) That cannot happen, but it did, more than once.

As much as I enjoyed watching the Hawks during the regular season, those Hawks were a playoff no-show. If you hadn’t known they were the No. 1 seed, you’d never have guessed by how they played. They weren’t precise. They were rarely the aggressor. They were lucky to survive Round 2, in which the final four games came down to last-second shots. Come Round 3, they were ready to go home. And so they have.

Reader Comments 0

174 comments
Greg Ast
Greg Ast

Fire the coach. don't renew Milsap, trade Carroll to Toronto for James Johnson. That should do it.


BTW, as a Raptor Fan, we'll take any and all your "garbage".


I mean did you SEE what happened to Toronto in the playoffs?


:-)

maps_retired
maps_retired

your tone mark is way off, GREAT SEASON , and Paul 7621 nails it great strides in the playoffs….. will watch to see if it can continue.

Paul 7621
Paul 7621

All-in-all, I'd say the Hawks made great strides this year. This is not a team that should be blown up. They need some more size and a few upgrades on the bench. They peaked too soon this year, which is better than usual, where they don't peak at all.

DawginLex
DawginLex

Good lord


Complaining about this team that overachieved and actually won 2 playoff series?


Turn in your Hawks card Mark. You have lost it sir

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

Also, Budenholzer  doesn't get off of the hook. What he accomplished in the regular season with this collection of career back ups was deserving of the COY award. However, in the playoffs he was often confused and had trouble making adjustments. He appeared to be a "system coach." The team also no confidence and quit under his direction in the playoffs.

MauryL
MauryL

atlanta has only one title in all the years of professional sports---1995 braves, and that was a strike shortened year.  This is depressing.  I may move back to new jersey next year if i can find a job somewhere. 

RonMexico
RonMexico

@ClubShark Point taken, but 1995 wasn't the strike-shortened season. That was 1994, and there was no World Series that year. 

Jug Tavern Dawg
Jug Tavern Dawg

@RonMexico @ClubShark  Shark is right, Ron.  1995 was strike-shortened as teams only played 144 regular season games due to the '94 strike carrying over into April of '95.  The Braves didn't play their first regular season game until April 26.

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

Bradley is right. This Hawks team is mentally soft and they quit. They achieved more than anybody thought they would, but  have reached their ceiling and will have to be blown up if the Hawks want to compete for a championship. So while the regular season was nice, it amounted to nothing more than a pleasant diversion. This group of players are not the answer. Horford is the only true all-star on the team. Every other position needs an upgrade.

Paul 7621
Paul 7621

Nah, they could use a real center and some more size and a little better shooting off the bench. Other than that they're good.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Regular season masters/Playoff losers just like every other team in this town. Must be something in the Atlanta air.

iwake up wavy, baby
iwake up wavy, baby

Wow, just wow. This is the type of support the team gets from local writers. This team played with heart. How about us as fans start giving credit for this team has done in 2 years. 38 wins to 60 wins, 1st round exit to ECF, 8th seed to 1st seed. This is what I called progress with this new era of Hawks basketball. I can now see impact free agents wanting to come to Atlanta to play now that we are establishing ourselves as a winning team and a winning organization. So what we lost in the ECF, its not like anyone predicted for us to get there anyways at the beginning of the season. Last time i looked you didnt have to LOOK like a number 1 seed to advance, you win by any means in the playoffs. The Hawks did just that and went farther than ANY OTHER Hawks team in Atlanta history, and you sitting behind your computer still mad. SMH. 

Paul 7621
Paul 7621

Yes, this is a much better point of view. Think back to the expectations at the beginning of the season. People would have said you were crazy to believe the Hawks would win it all. They're in a much better position now for attracting better players.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Well, Houston just got tossed in 5 games, and they had James Harden and Dwight Howard.  I fail to see how that is going to feel any better for Houston fans.

Really, you want flop in this postseason, it's the Clippers.  They had Houston by the throat and let them off the hook, loosing the final 3 games after being up 3-1 in the series.  In game 6, they had a 19 pt second half lead at home and blew it.

McGarret
McGarret

True but at least Houston tried to compete and gave it tremendous effort in the loss. James Harden deserved to have a bad game given all the heart he's shown throughout the whole playoffs. Lousy FT shooting by Smith and Howard notwithstanding, I would feel pretty good about the efforts they gave when up against the wall.

Totally different vibe about these birds,

UnseenWorld
UnseenWorld

You can't even double-team LeBron because every opposing player pays at least half-attention to him, so he doesn't get double-teamed, he gets team-teamed. This is what opened up the game to some of the Cavs lesser-known and newer players, some of whom were shooting 3's like they were in practice.


But...as long as LeBron is in the NBA, you can't use him as an excuse. Rather, he's something you have to take into account. You have to find a way to counter him. He'll probably be a factor in the league for at least another 2 or 3 years.

chasjons
chasjons

All great teams have a player that must be double teamed and the Hawks really didn't have that.  We need a rim protector on defense, someone like Thabo (healthy)  to D up Lebron,  and a low post threat. We basically have no post up players except for Milsap, but he isn't large enough to get easy baskets.    If I were a GM I'd trade Horford for a big shot blocker and I'd be aggressive on the free agent market for a post threat.   I love Horford's game, but I think he is overrated and we need a big who can post.  Onward and upward! 

JohnCL
JohnCL

The Hawks overachieved in the regular season. Coach bud deserves a lot of credit for that. 

The Cleveland series as well as the Wizzards series exposed several flaws in the roster.


1. No rim defender. Al had a 5 block game agains the wizards but that's not his game. He's a 4 playing the 5.

2. No rim finisher on offense. The Hawks play below the rim. The only consistent penetration they got against clevleand was from Schroeder & he seemed to have his shot blocked 50% or more of the time. Caroll & Milsap were also constantly getting shots blocked. 

3. No rebounders and a poor concept of team rebounding. No one follows their shot, Even when the blocked out on D, they would still lose rebounds, often standing and watching Cleveland rebound.

4. They are too slow and not Athletic enough to compete with Cleveland. 

5. Hawks need consistent 3 point shooters. Korver was off his game the entire post season. The others, Milsap, Teauge, Scott, Mack, etc... were not only missing contested 3 pointers, but wide open 3 pointers consistently.

6. The Hawks were out hustled. There was little sense of urgency. There were numerous occasions where they just didn't go after the ball, most notably game 3 with less than 1 minute to go when Scott watches the ball go out of bounds.

7. The Hawks did not trust their offense and ball movement down the stretch. Game 3 they had the last shot. Play call seemed to be have Teauge stand at half court and dribble only to take a contested 3 pointer against a man a foot taller. Crazy!


Add all of that up and include the very very biased officiating and it's a wonder the Hawks didn't lose by 30 every game. Management needs to go out and get coach Bud a Center, a couple of Long armed tall forwards who like to bang and crash the glass, another shooter, and a guy who can finish at the rim. Maybe that's asking a lot, but it's gonna take a lot to play for all the marbles.

atlanta spirit
atlanta spirit

"Injuries" as an excuse for Atlanta?  I stopped reading right then.  I can't take it anymore.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Let me keep it real why Hawks played so awful the entire playoffs because of Coach Bud.


Coach Bud get and F GRADE the entire playoffs and was out Coach by all Coaches.


You don't changed your style of Coaching because of the playoffs, the Hawks was winning during season because of Coach Bud to play his entire bench including 12 man deep sometime, this was what energize and kept the entire team playing with fire, once the playoffs came he went from a solid 10man rotation to and 7 or 8 man rotation, once the starters had a bad game, this threw the entire team off because of Coach Bud decision to rotate only 7man disrupting and changing the adjustment on what made the Hawks great have now became there worst enemy with no substitute pattern that was discombobulated and now everybody scrambling and being off base, I blame the entire playoffs woes on Coach Bud because of his substitute pattern.


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

Zapp
Zapp

Millsap will be a loss in the regular season, but he became a liability against taller or faster players.  Moose should see more playing time next year because he hustles, with good skills.  Korver probably would be better served as a sixth man to give a team instant offense.  In the playoffs he absolutely hurt the team with poor three point shooting, and he was too obvious about his moves.  More times than not, he had defenseman on him all of the time time.  They desperately need a defensive big man to shut down the lane.  I got so tired of watching guards going down the lane for easy layups in the playoffs.  They still have a good team, but they need some more players before this team gets too old.

AllanK2768
AllanK2768

Cavs fan in the house! Hawks fans...not sure what happened to your team. I was expecting a showdown between two steller teams. Injuries did affect both teams, Cleveland has a great bench and it looks like Atlanta needs to make some moves. 


The refs missed fouls on both sides (just like every game), LeBron is the best player in the league (wish he could make his fg percentage better) and shouldve been the MVP. I hated LeBron when he left my city but I realized that it was his choice to play with his friends and it was the only way it could be done. He is back and where he goes, the NBA Finals follow! 


I have had my heartaches following Cleveland sports for the last 47 years, losing stinks! Stop the finger pointing and move on to next year, I expect to see the Hawks back in the playoffs! 


#ALLinCLE

Climate Disrupter
Climate Disrupter

the Hawks are short and weak.  Cleveland is big, tough and talented.  4-0 result.  They could play 100 series and Cleveland would beat this hawk anywhere and anytime.  Clearly clearly the better team was Cleveland.  Bazemore now knows it.  The Hawks have to add to their roster.

km42
km42

Our Hawks lost because they deserved to.  They will never get the calls that LeBron gets.  Don't even go down that road!


The Hawks live and die by the 3, and it was exposed to a good, but not great CLE team.


LeBron losing in the Finals will be the only joy I could get the rest of this season.  He is the ultimate whiner and for someone who's the greatest player in the game, its a sad example for him being the face of the NBA.

Trey Drier
Trey Drier

@km42

Awwwwww....poor poor loser.  Lebron is laughing at you and your pathetic team while making $60MM a year.  He doesn't give a damn what idiots like you think.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Trey Drier @km42 This is the problem with fans in general. They all of a sudden become arrogant. What is interesting to me is that you were probably the same guy burning Lebron's Jersey after he left for Miami. You're team dominated the Hawks in every phase of the game. Enjoy the finals; and may the best team win. But, I understand, when you have a history of losing like Cleveland and Atlanta, these kinds of things are said by fans.

MauryL
MauryL

cleveland is a lot better---lebron's the best player in nba history and the hawks have no big scorers to match

Whitesorm
Whitesorm

Hi Hawk fans, referee haters, Labron haters and those with rational comments.


Great regular season, but post season is way different, even for those of us sitting in stands.  Every action is magnified and diagnosed like it was brain surgery.  I see by the comments here that the arguments for and against the Hawks and Cavs would be very similar if the Cavs lost, just change the city of the moaners.  

You know the fans can be a 6th man.  I was able to attend game 2 of Cavs-Bulls in Cleveland and the crowd was electric the WHOLE game.  Watching your home games against the Cavs, it seemed your fans really didn't get into it.

We may have the same mindset when the Indians make the playoffs.  It's good but we know the Indians will never beat Detroit, so why get all worked up?

Anyway, great regular season, looking forward to next season, Mike from near Cleveland.

gmaye
gmaye

Poor Mark Bradley, he never get it right with no Atlanta Teams, he said the hawks would win in 7, he said the Falcons would make the playoff, he said UGA would go to Nat, he said the braves would win the Division. 


Mark Bradley has been wrong for at least 20 years now, any other big city this guy would be history as a sports writer,  Hawks like the braves, falcon, UGA, are losers with no heart, this city is loserville and Bradley make excuses for these lousy teams in this city.

Ghawky
Ghawky

I agree with Mark that the main problem with the Hawks was that they didn't show up in the postseason, especially their offense. The defense was good enough for the most part, though not always. As constituted, they were plenty capable of having success and getting to the Finals where they, nonetheless, probably would have lost to a better team. They just didn't perform well in areas in which they were capable of performing well. 


Most of their postseason deficiencies appeared and were evident after the all-star break. In the second half of the season the Hawks noticeably started relying more on drive and shoot rather than drive, dish, and swing. Difficult, contested field goal attempts became more frequent, the beautiful ball movement less so. Korver also started losing his shooting touch in the debacle at Boston just before the all-star game where they blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead to a vastly inferior team. Korver's shooting was erratic thereafter. A broken nose didn't help. Their defensive intensity was spotty as well. You could almost count on them giving up 30 points in the first quarter, no matter the opponent. In addition, the perimeter defense was never the same after they lost Thabo back in January. I was hoping that they were simply bored down the stretch, but the same team showed up against Brooklyn.


Still, they might have survived another round had their jump-shooting not gone completely AWOL. I've read a lot of comments that they need more inside, but the frontline generally outscored their opponents. In game 1 against Cleveland the Hawks had a 62 - 54 advantage on two-point field goals while converting 57% of them. They won the FT line by 4. The loss was almost entirely due to missing 19 of 23 three-point attempts. They were outscored 30 - 12 on treys, and it wasn't Cleveland defense. The Hawks had plenty of good looks. For example, by game 3 Cleveland wasn't even guarding Schroder on the perimeter. Schroder's good shooting had compensated somewhat for Korver's decrease in production in the runup to the playoffs, but he and almost all the Hawks except Carroll couldn't find the bottom of the net on open shots in the postseason with any consistency. The defensive rebounding was terrible against Cleveland, but that was partially due to their trap and rotate defense. They were never a great rebounding team, even at their peak.


I would also add that Budenholzer, who was deservedly Coach of the Year, didn't have a great postseason himself. He was way too slow to react to their struggles on offense like, say, giving better offensive players a run off the bench. He acted like the game plan was chiseled in stone. The four guys he designated as reserves for a particular game were going to exclusively play in that game, no matter the situation. He was allowed to change his mind if, say, the team couldn't make a shot to save their lives. I'm also bewildered as to why he let the offense slowly degenerate from the work of art that it was back in January. The team was not going to knock down shots that efficiently all season, but, as noted, they started playing differently as well. Between the injuries and the rest days, which didn't keep the team healthy, the Hawks never had much rhythm after February. The postseason prep was a fail, though that was partly due to the injuries.

Trey Drier
Trey Drier

@Ghawky

So then according to your analysis Korver was not a big loss, which goes against what all these whiny Hawks fans have been saying.  Bottom line is Cleveland came to play with their A-game and Atlanta didn't. They got caught up in a word battle with an undrafted bench player named Dellavadova. Absolutely nobody outside of Cleveland knew his name until this series.  After Irving went down, all Hawks fans were applauding and thought they could take the Cavs out.  The Cavs lost Kevin Love for the the season and played most of the series without its #2 player Kyrie Irving.  The Hawks played with no heart.  No desire. No sense of wanting it all. The Cavs on the other hand out-hustled and outplayed the Hawks in every meaningful category. Its going to be a long hot summer Hawks fans.  Grab a cold beer and watch the Cavs take down the Warriors in 6.  Mark it down.

tm3
tm3

@Ghawky  I totally agree with your assessment of the team. The only positive the team can take from the elimination is they should understand their weaknesses. It's only our hope as fans that they will address the weaknesses this offseason.

Ghawky
Ghawky

@Trey Drier @Ghawky


Korver was a loss, even if he wasn't in peak form. He spaced the defense. No team was going to risk daring him to shoot.  His defense is also underrated. However, his loss did finally force Budenholzer to make adjustments in the rotations that were long overdue.


My point is that their loss didn't have a lot to do with the Cavs. The Hawks weren't playing that well on offense heading into the playoffs and that didn't change in the first two rounds. In fact, multiple players were at their season's worst in making open jump shots during the postseason.The Cavs were the beneficiary


Golden State is shooting the deep ball, defending it, and rebounding much better than the Hawks are in the playoffs. What worked against the Hawks isn't going to translate to Golden State unless Curry and crew crack under the Finals pressure. I doubt Golden State will cooperate by shooting under 25% from the arc in three games. The Hawks shot decently in one game and should have won it. I'm not too optimistic about the Cavs redeeming the Eastern Conference in the Finals.

Trey Drier
Trey Drier

@Ghawky

I am.  Say what you want about Atlanta shooting (which I agree with) but the Cavs would have won in 5 or 6 with the Hawks playing reasonably well.  I said early on in Feb that the Hawks peaked too early.  I've seen it before.  It happened in Cleveland when Lebron was on his first tour.  We won 66 and 63 games but never could win it all.  We lost to Orlando and Boston in successive Easter Conference finals.  Lebron was a young player back then.


Lebron learned after those disappointments that its how you finish, not the number of wins in the regular season.  Its why he and the entire team are playing their best ball now.  Its why he laughed when asked about Atlanta's 3-1 regular season record against the Cavs.  You learn from experience.  Hopefully the Hawks now understand it.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Trey Drier @Ghawky If not, you'll be saying the same things Hawks fans are saying now. I know ho Cleveland fans think. It's easy to be arrogant right now but remember, you burning Jersey and probably calling this guy this guy all sorts of names after he left for Miami.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@trey drier

Will you come back to post if Cleveland losses to GS?

JesseWhite
JesseWhite

Don't get the fans that keep saying "great season". This is like going out for a nice dinner having a great meal then having a pile of flaming poo brought out for dessert and presented with a huge bill. Not a nice dinner. A ruined. Terrible. Experience. See...the finish affects EVERYTHING. Great season? Heck no! This was a terrible, garbage, utter waste of a season that did more harm than good. No one is falling for this team again.

drmaryb
drmaryb

Draft Better next time.