There are lopsided losses and then there is what happened to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. Cleveland left very little to analyze after they delivered a 123-98 beatdown in Game 2. Don't let that 25 point margin of victory fool you. This game was never that close.
The Hawks actually started well jumping out to a 7-2 advantage in the early minutes of the game but the Cavaliers were just getting loosened up. By the time the first barrage of three-point baskets fell it was 35-20 at the end of the first quarter. Cleveland slammed the door shut in the second outscoring Atlanta 39-18 and pushed the lead to as many as 38 before settling for a 74-38 advantage at the half.
The game was academic long before the halftime buzzer with the Hawks left to pick up the pieces before the series shifts back to Atlanta for Game 3.
Atlanta's season now hangs in the balance and Game 3 could be pivotal one for this roster.
While long term decisions won't necessarily be made on this series alone, an ugly finish to an inconsistent season may well help the front office to determine that this group has reached its peak and is in need of rebuilding. If they can fight back at home and show Game 2 to be an aberration, then perhaps this roster needs just a few minor additions.
Game 2 is a reminder that any series against the Cavaliers was never going to be easy. As dysfunctional as Cleveland's regular season was at times, they were still the clear cream of the crop in what was an improved Eastern Conference.
It also serves as a reminder that while the Hawks are a well coached unit full of hard working veteran players, talent is a huge trump card in the NBA. Cleveland has a more talented roster top to bottom and sometimes that is just more than even the best coaching staff in the world can overcome.
We are 90 games into the 2016 season for this Atlanta Hawks team and I still really don't know what to make of them. On one hand, they are the team from Game 1 that can rally an 18 point deficit in the second half to take the lead on the road. On the other, they are a team that can lose focus early and be down nearly 40 points in the first half of Game 2. This is nothing new thought as this is something they have battled for the entirety of the 2016 season.
I guess the beauty of it is that we really don't know which team will show up in Game 3.