We won't call it a repeat performance but Game 5 was all too similar to Games 1 & 2 for the Atlanta Hawks. Lost in all of the personal fouls and free throws was just how bad the Hawks were on offense in Game 5.
Before we get too deep into this lets go ahead and address the Josh Smith leaving the game with two fouls in the second quarter controversy. First its important to point out that Smith played the first 17:11 of the game and I don't know if Ivan Johnson was at the table waiting to check in before Smith picked up his second foul but there is little doubt in my mind that Smith was coming out of the game at that point. It was highly unlikely that Drew was going to play him the full 24 minutes in the first half.
Smith probably would have been brought back into the game at some point with two or three minutes remaining had he not picked up his second but lets not get caught up comparing this to Game 1's benching of Al Horford. The two foul rule used by Drew is annoying and often ill timed but he isn't the only coach that does this and its not why the Hawks rolled over in Game 5.
They rolled over in Game 5 because this team has shown no ability to fight back from adversity. Their offense can be a beautiful thing but the moment they meet resistance they splinter in different directions. The Pacers know this all too well and that is why Paul George will give Jeff Teague a slight elbow on the way to the bench because he knows it will take Teague and the Hawks out of their games. That is on the leaders of this team in Teague, Smith and Al Horford to correct instead of becoming part of the problem.
The truth is that Atlanta was hanging in the game by their toenails long before Smith picked up his second foul and left the game. The Pacers attacked their big lineup and Johan Petro specifically to which the Hawks had little answer other than to foul. Offensively, the Hawks bailed out Indiana by settling for long jumpshots which is where they normally turn when things get tough. Indiana built a gigantic rebounding advantage in the early going despite the Hawks going with a big lineup. To make it simple the Pacers took the fight to the Hawks and Atlanta never responded once.
Josh Smith hurt Indiana in Games 3 & 4 by posting Paul George but that never materialized in Game 5. When Frank Vogel adjusted and put Jeff Pendergraph into the game to guard Josh, Smith saw the need to launch two wayward jumpshots before finally attacking Pendergraph off the dribble. Far too many times this team looks like it doesn't know what it wants to get offensively. Like they don't know where they should attack and that clearly can't be the case at this juncture of the season.
As much as we hate to admit it this is what we have seen from this team all season long and we should not be surprised. Its especially been the case since Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia, who are two of the teams tougher players, have been lost to injury.
The NBA Playoffs aren't easy and this Hawks team needs to quit looking for somebody to blame. Its time for them to look in the mirror.