Both the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets are eyeing some adjustments when their first round playoff series continues on Wednesday with Game 2. For Atlanta it could involved some forced adjustments due to Al Horford's finger injury. For Brooklyn, its all about figuring out how to get more shots for Brook Lopez.
The Hawks could be forced into making adjustments that they don't want to have to make depending on the status of center Al Horford who suffered a dislocated pinky finger during the fourth quarter of Game 1. Horford appeared to open the door that he could potentially miss Game 2 with the injury on Monday but it would be a bit surprising if he didn't suit up and give it a go. Still how much will the injury disrupt him? Horford told NBA.com's Sekou Smith on Monday that it was still painful but it was just a matter of getting used to it at this point.
"It's just sore. "They told me it would more sore today and I've just been doing more treatment on it since Sunday night. I went out and shot some today and it felt good, so I was encouraged by that. Last night it didn't feel good at all. You just have to get used to it. There is discomfort with it, though."
Paul Millsap continues to deal with a shoulder injury and is thinking about playing without a protective pad in Game 2 on Wednesday.
"We played around with the pad and cut it in areas and tried to do different things to protect it," Millsap said. "But you know, I might try and go without it the next game and see it how it goes. I guess I just upgraded it to might. I'm trying to balance it out, pain to mobility and I don't know. We'll see what happens Wednesday."
Millsap was effective in other areas of Game 1 as he defended well and finished with seven rebounds to go along with two steals. Still, the Hawks need him to get going again offensively especially with Horford hurting.
If either are limited, Mike Budenholzer could turn to Pero Antic or Mike Scott for more minutes. Antic was effective in Game 1 finishing with eight points and three rebounds in 19 minutes. Scott, who has been dealing with a back contusion, finished with five points in just over 10 minutes of action in Game 1. The Hawks also have veteran Elton Brand and Mike Muscala available. Muscala performed well during the final days of the regular season while playing in place of Millsap.
Following Game 1, Budenholzer talked about the Hawks needing to rebound better and in particular the need to keep Brooklyn center Brook Lopez off of the offensive glass. Atlanta was out rebounded 47-39 in Game 1 and 12-6 on the offensive boards. Six of Lopez's 14 rebounds came via the offensive glass.
That is a concern but it is one that Atlanta has dealt with throughout the season. Lopez's offensive rebounding has garnered a lot of attention in this series but the Nets only finished Game 1 with a 16-15 edge in second chance points. The Hawks scored 15 second chance points despite only grabbing six offensive rebounds in the game.
Brooklyn finished Game 1 shooting 46 percent from the field but Atlanta's defense was pretty good in what it wanted to accomplish. Lopez attempted just seven field goal attempts and Nets coach Lionel Hollins has been under fire for not getting him the ball more. As a somewhat defiant Hollins explained following Game 1, its not always that easy. The Hawks did a good job of taking away the pocket pass on the pick and roll that Brooklyn got a lot of mileage out of coming down the stretch of the regular season.
"If we had to depend on Brook (Lopez) to get 20 shots, we were going to lose by 25. Maybe I should just go out there and say Brook just shoot anywhere, everywhere, any time, and we'll win, right?" Hollins countered, with a hint of derision in his voice. "Come on, man. It's deeper than that. We're going to try to get Brook more shots, but that's the game of cat-and-mouse."
In addition to Hollins, criticism also fell on the shoulders of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson for Lopez's lack of involvement. The duo combined to score 30 points but were just 11-for-28 from the field. Williams talked about how Atlanta's defense took away their first actions with ESPNNewYork's Mike Mazzeo and how the Nets must counter if they want to get Lopez more involved in Game 2.
"I feel like we can play a lot better but their defense is so good against our first actions. We're not gonna score with our first pick-and-roll. We have to as a team swing the ball, swing the ball again, and maybe drive it. We just can't try to come up, screen-and-roll, one pass, shot. That's just playing into their hands and giving them what they want."
"We just gotta find some actions that work for Brook," Williams said. "Because we definitely need to get him the ball -- that little pocket pass that we were getting the last half of the season is not there against these guys. They're doing a good job of taking that away, but like I said, swing, swing and then maybe post him up on the other side. Those are things we can do to get Brook involved, and we need to get him more involved."
Williams talks a lot about swinging the basketball from side to side which is a staple of Atlanta's system. However, longtime followers of the Hawks know too well that swinging the ball with Joe Johnson on the floor often isn't the easiest thing to accomplish. The ball tends to stick in Joe's hands and he is more comfortable probing and prodding his way into position via the dribble than via the pass.
Johnson scored 17 points in Game 1 but was just 6-for-17 from the field and 0-for-6 from three-point range. Atlanta did a good job of forcing Brooklyn to take jump shots. Williams knocked down 5-of-11 attempts and made a pair of three pointers but Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic and Earl Clark didn't and those misses played right into Atlanta's hands.