The Hawks were back on the practice court trying to regroup and refocus after a poor showing in Game 1 of their first round series against the Indiana Pacers. The team had a lengthy film session where head coach Larry Drew grilled the team on their energy and effort level in the first game. Drew called it "mind-boggling" that they could come out and get that out-played from an energy standpoint. Hawks fans will find it no surprise that Drew's focus was on the energy level of the team as that has been the keyword of nearly every press conference he has had in his three years as head coach.
After the film session the Hawks spent another hour or so on the practice court trying to make the necessary adjustments before they return to Indiana for Wednesday's Game 2. When asked about what specific adjustments they will make, Drew laughed and said, "You think I'm gonna tell you that?" It was worth a shot. Drew, known for playing things close to the chest, would only say that it is "possible" that the Hawks will make a lineup change prior to Game 2.
The biggest news out of Hawks practice was that Josh Smith sat out to get treatment on a sprained right ankle and Drew said that he is "day-to-day." Drew would not say if Smith would be available for Game 2 and said that he will be evaluated Tuesday and Wednesday and if he does not play then he either start Ivan Johnson or Johan Petro in his place.
The focus of the practice was on executing better on both ends and playing with pace. Drew said the Hawks did well early on when they jumped out to the early lead, with dictating the pace, but then they got too stagnant.
"We gotta run more. At the beginning of the game I thought our tempo was really good. We were really running to attack and then offensively we were running our sets with pace. When we run it with pace, we get good ball movement. When we started isolating, we got into a situation where we got stagnant isolating, standing around and started taking bad shots. That led to them running. I told our guys, a bad shot is just as good as a turnover. Again, this is playoff basketball, you have to do the things that are going to give you an advantage and do the things you feel you are good with. I feel we are good when we run and when we move the basketball because we become hard to defend because we are less predictable."
Drew also talked about why Al Horford, and the rest of the starters, stayed on the bench for so long in the second half.
"No, [injury] had nothing to do with it, especially there in the fourth quarter. I had Petro and Ivan in there and those guys were doing a great job for me. In fact, they cut the lead under 10 and I was going to ride them as long as I could until we were within striking distance. We got in a situation where, I believe it was an eight point game, and they were at the free throw line. They missed the free throw, got the rebound and got a three-pointer out of it. So we were right there with the group that was out there. It was not a situation of him being hurt or anything. We just had a group in there that was playing well and I decided to stick with that group before eventually bringing [the starters] back."
Speaking of Al Horford; he spoke after practice with us to discuss many things, among them, the offensive woes of the starting unit. Horford said he thought the problems on the offensive end, and their lack of a consistent attack, stemmed from shot selection. (Try and see if you can figure out who Al is talking about without explicitly saying his name)
"Shot selection is important, we have to take good shots. We have to execute what we do with all five guys. If four of us or three of us are doing what we are supposed to do, and the other one isn't than it's not going to work. So we have to work together."
So, yeah. Seems pretty pointed, but I'll leave the speculation to you all as to who he may be talking about. No matter what, the Hawks have to do a better job pushing the pace, moving the basketball, and opening up the paint against the stingy Pacers defense.
The Hawks will be back at practice Tuesday morning before flying out to Indiana prior to Game 2, which will be shown nationally on TNT and locally on Fox Sports South as well as the local radio broadcast on 680/93.7.
I will leave you with this stat once again. When the Hawks lose in the playoffs, they lose big. They've lost by and average of 18.3 points in their 29 playoff losses since 2008, but they have won three of those series (They lost big against Miami, Orlando, and Milwaukee when they beat them). So hope is not all lost just because of one big loss; that's just how the Hawks do it in the playoffs.