Instant Reaction: Peachtree Hoops member, frootbooty summed up the Hawks well, and how they played in this game by giving us a suggestion of what the team motto should be....
Post-Game Venting: This was a game that the Hawks needed to win, which they did. But this was also a game that the Hawks should have won pretty easily, which they didn't.
ESPN's Doris Burke said on the telecast that she talked to Josh Smith before the game and that he told her there shouldn't be any reason why this game should be close. Josh Smith supported that statement by also saying that the Hawks were able to compete with the Celtics when they had their key players healthy, so this game (which had 5 key Celtics players missing) should be a cake walk.
Looking at the final score, that obviously wasn't the case.
My concern coming into this game was the Hawks' mental preparation, because we've all seen this team play down to the level of their competition and make things harder for themselves. The Hawks just didn't have the desire to blow this Celtics team out. The Hawks had control of the lead for most of the game, but they never really pulled away. The Hawks biggest lead in this game was actually only 12.
I was never too concerned that the Hawks were going to completely blow this game and lose it, but this game leaves me with no boost in confidence.
Notable Stats & Notes:
- Larry Drew never seemed panic. Even with Boston cutting down the lead, and even when they took the lead, LD didn't panic and put the starters in quickly. It was clear Larry Drew didn't want any of his players to play big minutes tonight, and none of them did. Only Josh Smith played 31+ minutes tonight.
- Joe Johnson scored a game high 30 points in 18 shots. 23 of those points coming in the first half. This is only Joe Johnson's 6th 30 point performance of the season.
- Josh Smith had a near triple-double, scoring 19 points, grabbing 12 boards, and....turning the ball over 7 times. Josh Smith made some bad decisions in this game, from bad passing to bad shot selections to bad defensive awareness. He still looked like the best player on the court though.
- Tracy McGrady and Josh Smith combined for 12 of the Hawks' 18 turnovers.
- Jason Collins topped his previous season high that he set last game vs. the Pistons with an 8 point performance. In the last two games, Jason Collins has scored a total of 15 points. Before these two games? He scored a total of 16.
Final Thought: This wasn't a pretty win, but at least it is a win. It's a much needed win. If the Hawks and Celtics do indeed face each other in the first round (which they most likely will be), the Hawks have really put themselves in a good situation to have that important home court advantage. The Hawks are now 1.5 games ahead of the Celtics with only 2 games left for Boston (vs. MIA, vs. MIL), and 3 games left for Atlanta (vs. NYK, vs. LAC, vs. DAL). Even if Boston wins their last two games, Atlanta will have to lose 2 out of their last 3 in order for the Celtics to get the homecourt advantage.
Next Game: This wasn't a good performance in front a national stage, but the Hawks will get another shot at it, as they face the New York Knicks on Sunday on ESPN. The season series between the two is tied, with both teams winning one game in front of their home crowd.