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2011 NBA Playoffs: The Atlanta Hawks Head Confidently Into Game 3 Against Chicago

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A few news and notes as we get ready for one of the biggest games in Atlanta Hawks history. I call it that because a win tonight at home against Chicago could help propel the Hawks into the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time ever. Atlanta stole Game 1 from the Bulls and seized home court advantage in the process. They need not worry about winning another game in Chicago as long as they take care of business at Philips Arena. Atlanta hasn't always been great at home during the regular season but they are undefeated thus far in the playoffs. 

Shot selection was a major topic when discussing Atlanta's Game 2 loss. Josh Smith was at the center of that discussion as he struggled through two and a half quarters before slightly finding himself for the remainder of the game. According to a report, Larry Drew met with Smith before practice on Thursday to discuss the forward's shot selection.

"I want him flying all over the place," Drew said. "I don’t want him sitting out there just shooting jump shots and trying to make plays off the dribble."

No doubt that Atlanta needs Smith and Al Horford to pick their games up if they are going to pull the upset in this series. Horford is shooting just under 40% from the field in the playoffs and the Hawks need to look to put him positions where he can be successful offensively. 

The forgotten man through the first two games of the Chicago series has been Zaza Pachuila who has played just eight minutes in each of the contests. If Horford and Smith can't pick their play up then perhaps Drew should turn to Pachulia who was Atlanta's emotional spark during the first round against Orlando. While Pachulia probably can't provide the offensive contributions of Horford or Smith but maybe he could match the energy that Joakim Noah has brought to Chicago. 

As we have discussed many times, it is really hard to predict this Hawks team but Atlanta seems confident. Jamal Crawford made headlines yesterday when he offered up a statement in regards to Chicago's Game 2 victory.

"If that's their best shot, we're in good shape," Crawford said. "As bad as we played, to be down six with four minutes to go, we had our chances. We'll take some positives from it and watch some tape."

Crawford clarified the statement this morning on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike show saying that it wasn't meant as disrespect to the Bulls but rather talked about how much energy was in the United Center that night and even though it was a must win for the Bulls, Atlanta found themselves down just six late without playing their best game. It sounds a lot like Atlanta respects Chicago but sees them as a young team that they believe they can beat. The Hawks get a chance to prove that tonight in Game 3.