The Atlanta Hawks lead the Brooklyn Nets by a 1-0 margin after a seven-point win in Game 1 on Sunday, and the two teams get back together on Wednesday evening for Game 2. There were mixed feelings, at least in some circles, following the series opener, though, and the Hawks will be looking to put their stamp on the series before heading up to Brooklyn for the next two contests.
Health has been a consistent matter of worry for Atlanta in recent weeks, ranging from Thabo Sefolosha and Mike Scott in reserve roles to Paul Millsap's shoulder ailment, but it appears that all systems are a go for Game 2. Al Horford was clear in his intention to play following some possible indications to the contrary, and Millsap himself was defiant in avoiding excuses concerning his shoulder following a woeful showing in Game 1.
With that positive injury report on the table, the Hawks must play better in Game 2. Atlanta struggled on the offensive end in the second half of Game 1 (especially in the third quarter) due to stagnation and some faulty execution, but against an inferior opponent, they were able to escape with a victory. Still, no member of the team, from Mike Budenholzer to each player, seemed overly thrilled in the aftermath, and they know that improvement must be in the offing.
On the Brooklyn side, the Nets could get an infusion of talent with the potential return of Mirza Teletovic for Game 2. Televotic has been out since January 22 with blood clots in his lungs, and while Brooklyn will undoubtedly play it safe with the 29-year-old forward, he provides the visitors with a legitimate scoring option that didn't exist off the bench without him. It remains to be seen how much or even if he can play at all, but Teletovic could be an interesting match-up, especially in comparison to Mike Scott.
Individually, the Atlanta Hawks need more from Paul Millsap. That much is clear after one of his worst performances of the season, but beyond that obvious uptick, the point guard play left something to be desired over 48 minutes in the opener, and the duo of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder will be aiming to build on the short flashes of brilliance they displayed in Game 1.
Some have pointed to Game 2 as a potential "turning point" in this series, should Brooklyn manage to escape Atlanta with a seemingly unlikely win. To the extent of which there could be pressure in Game 2 of a first round series, that pressure is on the home team in this one, as the Hawks flatly need to play better in order to achieve their goals. Budenholzer and company will undoubtedly be searching for a jumpstart in that direction on Wednesday. Stay tuned.