It's true, I was carrying on -- holding three fingers in the air, yelling catchphrases and various sounds of joy throughout the household, etc. It's been truly fun watching the franchise, our franchise, show the benefits of moving the ball, playing together and not wilting in the moment. To win two games out of the first three against a tough, tough team like the Indiana Pacers on the biggest of stages, the NBA Playoffs, is exhilarating.
Here's the downside: Whereas two games was more than most predicted (not me, mind you, but most), I'm greedy now. I want the whole upset thing for these guys. They're so likeable, so hard-working, so talented....would be a shame to stop the journey now, right?
Alas, as exciting and rapturous as these games have been, there's a long way to go. You have to win four games against a team to move on in this gauntlet. And as much as people have built the mausoleum for the 2014-2015 Indiana Pacers to lay in after this series, it's beyond premature.
The Pacers are a hot streak away from coming together again -- and that's a team that was best in the conference all year. As bad as I'm hearing that they are playing, I see a team with active backcourt that owned the Hawks on the glass with 27 rebounds between Paul George and Lance Stephenson. I see a strong effort from David West and a huge contribution from Luis Scola, whose midrange game gave the Hawks trouble when he was a Rocket as he has the last two games with the Pacers.
I see the Hawks shooting less than 40%, getting outrebounded and remember all too well how the Pacers figured it out in the second half of Game 2 and took the Hawks out of the game.
No wet blanket here, just a reminder....there is still a lot of work to be done to make this unbelievable #eventhehawks feeling complete with an upset of the top seed.
So what do the Hawks need to do to win two more games? The one thing that was worked so, so well thus far....attack! The aggressive Hawks saw the fruits of their labor emerge at the free throw line in Game Three, getting 37 free throws as the go-go-go Hawks and their firestarter, Jeff Teague, stayed on the gas. No matter what the Pacers counter with in Game Four, this HAS to be the identity of the this team: Relentless attack, aggression and execution. Making threes is nice, too.
Many will lament the lack of "HOW ABOUT THE HAWKS" headlines due to the focus being on the Pacers. If that's you (like it's sometimes me), take heart in the fact that I am certain that such lamentations are not emanating from the Atlanta Hawks organization. Let the focus and the discussion be on Indiana, give them all kinds of problems to solve through the media. The Hawks are fine with coming in below the radar, game after game, for as long as the circumstances let them.
If it sounds familiar, it should...this is the Spurs model. If you aren't convinced that this front office and this coaching staff hasn't drilled such things into this team's collective head yet, then you didn't hear Teague launch at least three "That's a great team they have over there"s in a 15 second span during his on-the-court postgame interview after their Game Three win.
The crowd was also huge in Game Three, with Kyle Korver calling it the best he's seen as a Hawk. But there's a Game Four. It's on Saturday at 2pm, Atlanta time. The job is only half done for them, too -- Wearing all-red or whatever needs to be done to give this deserving team a massive home court advantage may be a tiny percentage of the overall formula, but it's a critical part of the overall product just the same.
Being up two games to one has a lovely ring to it -- but it's a garbled noisemaker when compared to finishing the job and advancing to the next round, complete with the upset dialogue. Here's believing it can happen. Here's believing it will happen. I am all-in and so, I believe, is this team. I'm ready for the destination, but I know there is still a long road ahead.
Saturday at 2pm. Philips Arena. Let's. GO. HAWKS!