Cleveland rocks. The Hawks sink like a stone

Atlanta Hawks players watch from the bench in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Says it all, does it not? (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland — They trailed by 18 points in Game 1. They trailed by 41 in Game 2. They’ve lost nine games in succession to this opponent over the past 11 months. They’ve lost every playoff game — 10 in all — they’ve worked against LeBron James’ teams. If you’re the Atlanta Hawks …

Stop right there. Let’s rephrase. Be glad you’re not the Atlanta Hawks.

The pragmatist in me knows that the Cleveland Cavaliers have won two home games in this series, which is what a No. 1 seed is supposed to do. But the manner in which they took Wednesday’s Game 2 was so breathtaking that it might have taken more than breath from the underdog Hawks. It might have taken their heart.

The Cavaliers made 18 3-pointers in the first half, 25 all told. (Both were NBA records, and not just in a playoff game. In any game ever.) The Hawks ranked second in defensive efficiency over the regular season. They’ve yielded 104 and now 123 points to Cleveland. The Cavs had 74 points at the half in Game 2; the Hawks had 70 after three quarters.

Yes, there’s a difference in talent: The Cavs have LeBron, and also Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson. The Hawks, however, have four All-Stars from last season and two from this. They aren’t as good as the Cavs, but they shouldn’t be getting the score doubled on them. (With three seconds left in the first half, Cleveland led 74-36.)

“It’s tough to take,” Al Horford said, which was pretty much all any Hawk could say. The fourth quarter became laughable — the Cavs’ subs were slinging 3-pointers hand over fist to try to break the record, which was 23 — and someone wondered if the Hawks felt they’d been rendered laughing stocks. Horford seemed more shocked than ticked.

“If you’re in that position,” he said, “you probably want to (set a record).”

Which they eventually did. Dahntay Jones hit No. 24. Mo Williams hit No. 25. In the grand scheme, these were footnotes to Smith’s six astonishing first-half treys, but the home crowd ate them up.

The series shifts to Philips Arena for Games 3 and 4, which should favor the Hawks. But the Cavs have won their past three games in Atlanta, two coming in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. They’re good enough to win anywhere. Through two games, the Hawks have given little indication they could prevail here, which they’d have to do to take the series.

After this wipeout, the Hawks would do well just to force a Game 5. They said they were better prepared for this series against the Cavs than they were last May, but that bit of bravado ignored two cruel truths: The Hawks aren’t as good as they were last season, and these Cavs are better.

The rally from 18 down in Game 1 semi-obscured the bigger picture — the Hawks had been roundly outplayed for 2 1/2 quarters and even after taking a fourth-quarter lead lost by 11 — but Game 2 brought the difference between teams into sharp relief. The Cavaliers did as they pleased. The 25-point final margin flattered the visitors, who never drew nearer than 21 over the final 32 minutes and 47 seconds.

Someone asked Horford if the Hawks could rally themselves and make this a series. “That’s a big question for us right now,” he said. “We had a game plan we thought was really good. It got discarded.”

We could run through the list of Hawks who had bad games, but what’s the point? (Dennis Schroder, the only reason the Hawks had a chance in Game 1, scored 22 fewer points in Game 2.) The whole team was terrible. Or maybe the Cavs are so good that it doesn’t matter what the Hawks do.

There’s a reason LeBron’s teams keep winning the Eastern Conference. This is the best of his Cleveland teams. It’s hard to imagine these Hawks halting it — or even beating it once.

Further reading: The Cavs rain treys and inundate the Hawks.

Reader Comments 0

19 comments
pistol
pistol

This is what you get when you run a very  competent GM out of town because of a whining few (like our esteemed Mayor Reed)! Coach has no one looking over his shoulder and giving him feedback and support since he is also the GM. Cleveland is not that good, but they have loads of confidence because we did not correct our weaknesses after last season's loss to these guys! WHERE is Humphries? We cannot control our defensive boards so we are sagging on their shooters! This wasn't addressed in the off season because we have no GM! Coach is too close to his team and doesn't look at the personnel from a cold analytical stand point. Have the courage to say we were wrong, shut Wilkins up, ignore the media, and REHIRE Danny Ferry to fix this mess or be embarrassed again next year!

Brandon Nelson
Brandon Nelson

Atlanta knows Cleveland's personnel well enough to not be blindsided. To me at this round of the playoffs, with the exception of injury. there are no excuses. I go back to the mid 1980's Indiana University and this alleged story. Mike Giomi is having a bad first half. At halftime in the locker room Coach Knight brings him forward and grabs his testicles while asking him what they are. Giomi answers testicles, and then Coach Knight proceeds to implore him to play as if he had some... man could the Hawks use a guy like Coach Knight right about now!!!    

The_Shade
The_Shade

Series is over.  But there is still time to even the score with Della-va-dirty.  

umm
umm


This Hawks team is fighting way out of its weight class.


The Hawks are a good regular season team. When they are playing well they are a fun, stylish team to watch, and are more than capable of beating up on the NBA underclass. But it is a fact of NBA life that teams without a superstar make no real noise in the playoffs. Championship caliber teams have at least two superstars. Who exactly on this Hawks team would qualify?


The Cavs have two superstars. Kevin Love doesn't in my mind qualify but he still has a skill set that forces teams to alter their defensive strategy in ways that open up the floor. Even when his shot isn't falling he still impacts the game in other ways. JR Smith isn't a superstar but he can still from time to time sure do an impressive impersonation of one. And Tristan Thompson is another guy the Hawks can't control. 


Could the Hawks take a game in Atlanta? Sure, it's possible. It's very unlikely the Cavin shoot like that again and they also have stretches when they lose focus. After game two, does anyone see a reason why the Cavs should feel the slightest bit threatened by this Hawks team? But even at 3/4s speed the Cavs look so much better than the Hawks that they're able to turn it on again when necessary. "Oh, do you mean we need to pay attention again. Okay."


Nothing will change for this team until they get a superstar. Kevin Durant anyone?


B_D
B_D

I have a hard time believing the Hawks can do anymore than possibly win one game in this series.  As a long time fan, I have said over and over, none of the teams really in contention don't have a player you assume will make the Hall Of Fame.  When I look at the Hawks I don't see someone that looks like a shoo-in.  Since Ted Turner, we have never had owners who were willing to put in the bucks to lure someone here of that stature.  Maybe the new owners, who I have seen not quotes from so far, will be more willing to part with the cash to bring that type of player to the team.  

The guys are getting some wide open shots but they just aren't falling.  They are even missing layups.  It seems like Coach Bud could do something to Kyrie the same way they are defending Korver to get him slowed down.  Plus, when he was in Kris played decent ball.  What did he do to get in coach doghouse to have Muscala come in before him.  Look for Kris to get more playing time this series, especially against "TT". 

tmndc
tmndc

Looked like the Washington Generals out there last night. Just needed the ball up the shirt routine and maybe LeBron throwing a bucket full of confetti on our bench . . .

RollDawg
RollDawg

I'm 60 years old. I'm a passionate fan of all our "professional" sports teams. This HAS TO BE THE WORST period in our awful history. My wife and I attended 22 home games for Hawks last season: ZERO this season, ZERO Braves games last season and certainly ZERO this season. We cancelled our Falcons season tickets. I'm now officially done folks.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@RollDawg How bout the UGA tickets........they don't win anything either?

irishmafia1457
irishmafia1457

So much for mark's excuse theory in his last column ..oh the Hawks only shot 24% or whatever it was, while failing to mention it was exactly the same as what Cleveland shot. Like all Atlanta teams ,oh and UGA, always overrated, always an excuse why they didn't win, exactly why ATL is a wasteland of sports.

RangeRover
RangeRover

A well coached team is never embarrassed like this.  But this is what happens when a team promotes a rookie head coach to president.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Yea........but there still stuck with the Browns!

UncleMike
UncleMike

Cleveland is still a cesspool, just like Bark Madley's reporting...we really do hate you

rgpat
rgpat

Ugly, pathetic,lousy defense. I could say more but I won't.

Falcaints
Falcaints

is anyone truly surprised? The Hawks like all Atlanta teams are "average". No play makers.