Game 1 couldn't have begun any better for the Atlanta Hawks, but there is still work to be done on the ending. Atlanta came out of the gates hitting on all cylinders but saw all of that slip away in the second half of Sunday's Game 1 loss to the Washington Wizards.
"They made more plays in the second half than we did," head coach Mike Budenholzer told the media following the game. "Defensively, we just had a couple of lags and lulls that allowed them to get back in it and get a little separation. Offensively, we have to be more aggressive. We've got to get to the paint and attack more, and continue to move the ball. It has to start with us being more aggressive offensively and us getting more aggressive getting to the paint."
Atlanta started well enough scoring 63 points in the first half to take a 10 point lead into halftime. The Hawks converted 52 percent of their field goal attempts in the first 24 minutes and were 9-for-17 from three-point range. The second half was the polar opposite as Atlanta's offense managed to score just 35 points on 25 percent shooting. The Hawks scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter while going 5-for-28 from the field.
"I think in the first half, we were able to get in the paint," said Kyle Korver who finished with 13 points but was just 5-for-15 from the floor. "We really got into the paint. We hit some jump shots too, but we were in the paint first. As the game went on, we didn't get into the paint as well as we did before. We have to watch the film and try to figure that out. We definitely missed some good looks too. We still had some good looks in the second half that we just have to make. I thought we did a better job in the first half of getting into the paint.
Budenholzer echoed Korver's concerns saying that the settled for too many jumpshots in the second half. "We did the majority of the second half. You always have to be careful. I think we had some good looks, but I think we'll get better looks. More consistent scoring if we're more aggressive driving it, more aggressive continuing to put pressure on the rim and attack."
Atlanta finished the game with a 42-32 edge in points in the paint, but 26 of those points came in the first half. Like Korver said, the Hawks some looks that they just weren't able to make. According to NBA.com's SportVU stats, Atlanta made just 15-of-49 uncontested field goal attempts.
"The biggest thing was we missed a lot of open shots, shots around the rim," said DeMarre Carroll who finished with a game-high 24 points. "Defensively, I think we were solid, but offensively, you can't score 35 points in the second half and expect to beat this team."
There was a quick turnaround for the Hawks between Friday's Game 6 win against Brooklyn and Sunday's Game 1. Still, the Hawks didn't think that fatigue played a part in the loss.
"You can't really worry about fatigue," Carroll said. "It's the Playoffs. We were at home with our home crowd, so our adrenaline should've gotten us over the edge. Offensively, 35 points in the second half, you can't do that and beat a team like Washington."
"They didn't know who they were playing, but maybe they had more time to prepare," Korver acknowledged. "But they didn't know either, so that's not really an excuse. It was a quick turnaround, but we have another day and we're going to play again in Game 2, and hopefully we're going to be better.