I feel bad. I really do, but I can be honest. I am guilty of wanting the Hawks to lose last night. It is true. It is all true.
And yet it takes only one win for me to fall in love all over again. Every made basket, every defensive stand felt good It all felt right. We were not made to root against our teams, to play "what if" scenarios about coaches. We were made to cheer, and not three minutes into last night, that is exactly what I did. Game five, for all its horribleness, may just have released us to enjoy the rest of these playoffs. Whether that is one more game or ten, the Hawks are our team. And you cannot help but get excited watching them play nearly 48 minutes of effort filled defense.
Still, after crushing our souls with a mix of everything terrible about this team just three days ago, the least the Hawks could do was make it a realistic victory. Invite us back into their embrace with a measure of truthfulness. And Atlanta did that. For the concerted effort they made in working the high/low post and finding the mismatches, it was quite obvious the team has not tried to play actual team basketball with near enough frequency to actually execute that style now.
Asking your kid to learn to eat left handed because down the road eating with both hands will make you a wildly more efficient eater is all well and good, but just telling him the philosophy behind it, right before you put him in a food eating contest is of little help. One look at the opponent scarfing down hot dogs and what should happen no longer matters, and so when the game got tough, we saw isolations and no ball movement. It was painful. Joe Johnson ridiculous dribbling displays and Al Horford single focus to shoot upon receiving the ball in the post all bled over to fast breaks where Mo Evans refused to pass and Jamal Crawford ridiculously quick shot. At one point, I thought Mike Turico was going to fight someone he was so upset, but this is who the Hawks are. You are not going to make the amidexterous eaters this late in the season. No matter how sense it makes. (And I only use such a ridiculous analogy to point out how ridiculous the reality is.)
What did happen last night and can happen again, was ridiculously good defense. The Hawks did little different schematically. Yes, there were some quicker double teams. A few non switches that let Mike Bibby guard Brandon Jennings, but for the most part it was better executed/more committed effort to the things the Hawks have done all year. The sh@% does work, and it would work even better if we had a coach who could get this kind of effort out of this team during the game fives of the season and not just the game sixes.
In the end, the Hawks are what they are, and when they put forth effort into that flawed thing we call this team, there is still a lot to love. And if you look real hard, despite all the contested jumpers, failed post ups, and centers guarding point guards, you may actually find, buried deep down, a little hope.