The Atlanta Hawks are moving on.
The Brooklyn Nets, playing at home, threatened to make things interesting for 24 minutes, but following the halftime break, things were far more lopsided. In the end, the Hawks claimed a 111-87 victory and a six-game series win, setting the stage for a round two match-up against the Washington Wizards.
For the second straight game, the Hawks came flying out of the gates early. Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll connected on back-to-back threes to begin the game, and that was just the beginning. Atlanta flashed to a 12-2 spurt to claim a 23-12 lead, and at that point, the road team was 9 for 12 from the field and 4 for 5 from three. Beyond that, the Hawks assisted on each of their first nine baskets, and it was an offensive exhibition.
That production carried for the rest of the first quarter, as the Hawks took a 36-23 lead after those 12 minutes. Korver and Carroll led the way with 11 and 8 points, respectively, and the team was 5 for 7 from three to aid in a 72% shooting clip overall. Even the much-maligned Dennis Schröder scored six 6 points in the opening frame, and things were going swimmingly.
The Hawks led by as many as 15 points at 38-23, but the Nets would come back as they have throughout the series. Brooklyn went on a 7-0 run that came in conjunction with Carroll picking up his third foul, and the Nets pushed that spurt to 14-2 overall as Atlanta scored only four points in the first seven (!) minutes of the second quarter.
Fortunately, Mike Budenholzer's team was able to keep a six-point lead at the half, but it wasn't for lack of "trying" to give the advantage away in the second quarter. The Hawks shot 6 of 19 from the floor to score only 15 points in the period, and aside from Paul Millsap (14 points, 5 rebounds in the half), there were few positives to discuss.
Needless to say, the third quarter was slightly more pleasurable.
The Hawks scored 41 (!) points in the third, beginning the period on a 23-3 run to take a 26-point lead. From there, Atlanta never looked back, upping the lead to as many as 28 points and effectively ending the series. When the 12-minute onslaught ceased, the Hawks had connected on 16 of their 24 shots from the floor (6 of 9 from three), and with 15 fast-break points, it was beautiful to watch.
With the game firmly in hand (for a nice change), the stretch drive was simply one to enjoy with an eye toward the second round match-up against the Wizards. The bench carried the load from a playing time perspective, and even with the Nets climbing within 18 points (bringing Horford and Korver back off the bench), there was never any legitimate danger en route to the final result.
This was a fully dominant performance from the starting five, and the numbers tell the story. Each of the quintet was +16 or better in the game, with Paul Millsap (25 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Kyle Korver (20 points on 6 of 10 from three, 8 rebounds) serving as the engine of the offense. DeMarre Carroll was (again) nearly flawless with 20 points on 7 of 8 shooting, Jeff Teague added 13 assists and Al Horford did Al Horford things with 18 points, 7 rebounds and strong defense in the paint.
There will be plenty of time for discussion about the struggles of the bench, the six-game gauntlet against Brooklyn and, of course, the upcoming series with the Wizards. For tonight, the Atlanta Hawks closed out a series with a 24-point blowout on national television. Enjoy it.