2011 NBA Playoffs: Hawks 103 - Bulls 95 : Game 1 Instant Reaction

Quick Thought: You would think that the Hawks had a sponsor's pass to the playoffs by the way folks talk about them. Now you know.

Summary:

There was everything here in the Hawks 103-95 Game 1 win in Chicago for the Bird Watchers who have been in it since the start of the season.

Jeff Teague played FORTY-FIVE minutes in Game 1. That he chased Rose all around the court and dared him to hit outside shots (11-27, 2-7) allowed Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford to stay fresh and combine for a best-case-scenarioish 20-34/7-9 for 56 points.

Al Horford actually didn't sit the rest of the first half after picking up his second foul in the first quarter. This was critical as Horford, along with Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia, helped keep the Bulls off the glass in the second half and locked them out down the stretch. Horford's 9 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists were steadying.

There was really good ball movement, resulting in 20 assists against 10 turnovers. Joe Johnson gave the ball up, and got it back in better position to shoot, playing no small role in his good shooting tonight.

The defense was active and held the Bulls to 44 percent shooting and rebound from allowing 6-12 three point shooting in the first half to only give up 2-6 in the second..

There were some inspired substitution from Larry Drew, bringing in Damien Wilkins and Zaza Pachulia at just the right times and got guys out at the right times.

The Hawks came out strong, ran out to an early lead, and played well from ahead the rest of the way, even when the Bulls pulled ahead by 6.

So now the Hawks, who have been summarily dismissed in two series, have surprised again in a Game 1. Some day the league will have to admit, when they play hard for 48 minutes they are a tough matchup for any team in the league.

The Stars:

This game was why Joe Johnson was re-signed by the Hawks in the offseason. We can shake our fists at the sanity of the length and cost, but there was no winning this game without Joe's myriad ways to score. Joe finished 12-18, 5-5, 5-5 for 34 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. 

Jamal Crawford was on his game as well, especially after a technical free throw got him going. Crawford was 8-16 for 22 points and 3 assists. His three in the final minute put the Hawks up by 11 and effectively made Kris Willis declare "Dagger!

Can't say enough about Jeff Teague. Man was balling tonight. Again I have to mention that his efforts defensively ensured that, not only would somebody actually stay around Derrick Rose tonight, but that Johnson and Crawford did have to die trying. He was 5-11, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and a single turnover. And he only committed 2 fouls in 45 minutes. Derrick Rose drove at him, on him, shot through and over him, and never got to the free throw line. That's worth mentioning. Honestly, could Kirk Hinrich done better?

Also:

I'm out of gas. I have to admit. I'm buzzing on this win. Very proud of the team to play ball like this right from the start. Great efforts all around. With the exception of some odd passes into thin air, Josh doing his no-wait-I-got-this jump shots in the third quarter, and the occasional breakdowns in transition defense, this was a great game. Maybe the best playoff win since Game 2 in Chicago in '97.

I'm embracing. The analytics can wait until the offseason. Let's Go Hawks!

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