ATLANTA - APRIL 20: Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after a basket against the Milwaukee Bucks at Philips Arena on April 20, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Hawks were the better team tonight this much is clear, but with a bench that was borderline horrific, it may be safe to say that these starters, if pressed into 48 minutes, can win on the road, the playground, in the sheep house, and any and all of the foreign countries represented by the Bucks' players. Actually, check that, just put the front court in, and victory might be assured (mandatory Andrew Bogut missing caveat here). Watching those 15 and 10 minutes without Josh Smith and Al Horford respectively were painful, and while I have little doubt the bench will play slightly better in other games and oddly contorted Bucks layups will not go in quite as often next game, I know for a fact that blocked layups do not go in. No doubt always beats little doubt, and right now no doubt is up 2-0.
On that note, Josh Smith was three pouts, two jump shots, and one pass away from a perfect game. Just dominant. I honestly don't know how he only had two blocks. That is the only thing I am angry about right now. And Al Horford was not that far off. Anyone just doing a box score drive by was not watching the sensational perimeter defense (or at least force mediocre players into being mediocre defense) and box outs possession after possession. If their were assists for rebounds, Al would have had a triple double. Those two scored 41 points on 24 shots. One paragraph for two performances like that is down right disrespectful, but I feel bad having not re-watched the game and not being able to give you specifics. Ok here is one, Josh Smith driving the ball for a double (extended single?) clutch dunk for an and one that basically epitomized what could make Josh Smith a starter in the all-star game one day.
And deep breaths. Feeling more reasonable. Deep breaths. Feeling more reasonable. And reasonable. Joe Johnson had a very good night. Played high energy defense all game. Pushed the pace much more than normal, and he hit enough of his tough jumpers to keep the Bucks out of reach when the front court was off the court or without the ball. With Jamal Crawford and Mike Bibby having off nights, Joe mixed in enough easy shots with tough ones to keep the offense surprisingly potent. And the two blocks?!? Shoot....
The Hawks took care of business, and for the most part, they did that business well. The blueprint for success is quite clear. Joe Johnson is the most point getter, the big point getter, but the engine point getter and point starter that is the Josh Smith and Al Hoford. Maybe not every series, but certainly this one. When the crowd gets hostile, when the two point deficient seems a little more direr, lets hope Woody knows what to do. Just in case, I have already sent 42 game two tapes to their Milwaukee hotel.